Clarnico re-emerging at Sweetwater

Yesterday I took a walk in the October sunshine through the old Clarnico site at Hackney Wick. The area’s recently been opened up as the Olympic Park gets developed – and it’s a great place to visit. Just take the train to Stratford or Hackney Wick and walk about.

Local map small

On this local map you can see Clarnico Quay beside ‘You are here’ and, to the right, a new area called Sweetwater which is yet to be developed, taking its name from all the confectionery made here in the past. The 19th century Clarnico factory complex comprised much of what is within the circle drawn here.

Clarnico Quay

Here is the original building still standing beside Clarnico Quay with the Copper Box Arena behind it.

White Building

The White Building and Yard Theatre are in old Clarnico premises on the other side of the canal, north of the Carpenter Road bridge.

Sweet Water

Sweetwater awaits development beside the Olympic Stadium.

Clarnico 1921 from above Reduced

Here’s the same area in 1921, with the main canal running top to bottom (instead of side to side as on the map above). You can see the Carpenter Road bridge in the middle, with Clarnico Quay beside it to the right and the White Building on the other side. All the wasteland to the right is now the Olympic Park. Hackney Wick to the left is now bustling with artists, cafes and new housing developments. In the foreground is the wonderfully named ‘Fish Island’, home to Forman’s who have smoked salmon there for over a century.

If you fancy an interesting walk in East London, start with this area in Hackney Wick, then follow the canal and River Lee south to Three Mills – lovely old buildings – then head southwest along Limehouse Cut to Limehouse Basin and the Thames. East London is bursting with new life at the moment. It’s fascinating to see this emerge alongside the city’s industrial past.

Posted in Clarnico, Main | 1 Comment

Did you make Regal Crown Sours or Bitter-Lemons at Maidstone?

Do you remember making Regal Crown Sours or Bitter-Lemons at Maidstone? If so, then your help is requested. An American firm called Iconic Candy has brought back Regal Crown Sours in the US.

As their Kenny Wiesen writes: We have returned to the market a candy that was made in the 1960s known as Regal Crown Sours. It was a hard candy in roll pack form with individually wrapped pieces. The candy came in many flavors including sour cherry and sour lemon. It was made for export to the U.S. and was such a big seller that Trebor won the Queen’s award for its export.

We know that Regal Crown Sours were made at the Maidstone plant and we are hoping to connect with anyone that has any knowledge of the product or flavours used at the plant for the hard candies. Please contact me at:

PackRegalCrownsaless moire

If you know anything about producing the sweets, please contact Kenny. And do check out his website to read about old American sweets. Though Iconic Candy will be getting the new sweets made in the UK, they don’t plan to sell them over here.

Last year we posted some pictures and information about Trebor’s success in America in the 1960s


Are you old enough to remember this ad? Earlier in the 1960s, Trebor launched the sweets in the UK as Bitter-Orange and Bitter-Lemon. Here are two young models, Maureen and Rosemary – known as the Trebor Twins – sent to promote the sweets around South Wales and the West Country. TV ads told customers to keep a packet handy at home in case the Twins came to call; then if they answered a question correctly, they would win a prize – maybe a giant teddy bear or even an electric clock.


Bitter-Orange flopped, but Bitter-Lemon was a great success – as were Sour Lemons to succeed in the US later on.

Posted in International, Maidstone, Main, Memories, Products | 4 Comments

Do you know where ‘Minty Bit Stronger’ came from?

Matt Jenner’s been in touch with a question: I was wondering if you could shed some light on the original Trebor slogan for me (Trebor Mints are a Minty Bit Stronger). We’ve had a family story going for years that this came from a competition to win some Trebor sweets years ago. Is this true? I would very grateful if you could shed more light onto this for me.

Sorry to say, Matt, I don’t have a definitive answer for you.  I know the line appeared in this 1960s TV ad:

And as we all learnt at school, the unofficial second line of the slogan is Stick them up your bum and they last a bit longer.

But I’ve not found anything in the Trebor Archive about a competition to come up with the line. Is there anyone out there who can shed light on this? Thanks.

Posted in Main, Memories, Products | 1 Comment

Trebor’s Opportunity of a Lifetime

John Bell has sent us a wonderful account of how Trebor led his family from Essex to Canada in 1950.

Trebor Crest 1950

I was born in Essex, England in 1946. A year earlier, my father had returned from the war not sure of what he was going to do with his life. He toiled at a number of blue collar jobs, including house painting, but Richard ‘Dick’ Bell remained out-of-sorts until 1949, when my uncle presented “an opportunity of a lifetime.” Those were my Uncle Harold’s words.

Harold Dolphin was a handsome, charming man, with lofty dreams and ambitions. One of those dreams was relocating to the new world. His employer Trebor Confections would be the means to that end. Harold convinced Trebor of a burgeoning market for British sweets in Canada. The country was courting the British Empire for aspiring immigrants. At the time, Canada’s population was 14 million, and half its 2 million immigrants were born in the UK. Presumably, the transplanted Brits would delight in the availability of Trebor candies in Canadian shops.

Harold Dolphin, general manager.

Harold Dolphin, general manager.

Dick Bell, warehouse manager

Dick Bell, warehouse manager

My uncle’s mandate was to set up an overseas operation and serve as the company’s General Manager. Harold said he would need a reliable right-hand Englishman to help out. So, when Trebor offered to pay the travel expenses for the Bell family, all that was left for my father to do was convince my mother that this was a good idea. Dick resorted to his brother-in-law’s words of inspiration. He told my mother that Canada would present “an opportunity of a lifetime” for their young son, John.

Travelling several months ahead of the two families, Harold and Dick arrived in Toronto on one of the coldest days of the year, 25°C below zero. They soon signed a lease for an icicled warehouse and office in the east end of the city. Harold hired a small staff that included Trebor Canada’s first and only salesman, a Canadian-born Scotsman, William J. McLeod. Bill, his wife Grace and daughter Elaine, would become family friends for life.

Toronto warehouse 1950

Toronto warehouse 1950

Bill McLeod in 1980

Bill McLeod in 1980

On May 2, 1950, a month before my 4th birthday, the Empress of France pulled into the docks of Quebec City where I was declared a landed immigrant by the Canadian authorities. By train, we journeyed to our new home in Toronto.

Trebor made a big splash as an exhibitor at the Canadian National Exhibition. Brits lined up to buy Barley Sugar sticks and an assortment of other wrapped sweets.

1951 Canadian National Exhibition. Harold at the back. Dick up front serving customers.

1951 Canadian National Exhibition. Harold at the back. Dick up front serving customers.


1951 Canadian National Exhibition. Bill McLeod's the balding man with glasses to the left.

1951 Canadian National Exhibition. Bill McLeod’s the balding man with glasses to the left.

CNE Pass Dick Bell

But making money for the mother ship proved challenging. Importation put Trebor at a cost disadvantage. Other British competitors such as Cadbury and Rowntree Mackintosh were already producing in Canada. After 3 years, it was all over. Trebor terminated the overseas venture. They made a generous offer to bring the two families back to Britain but it was not to be. The Dolphin’s moved to the USA where Harold became a car salesman. That venture was also not to be. Harold’s marriage ended in 1962, and he returned to England where he spent the rest of his days.

My father remained in Toronto and worked in the industrial wire and cable industry in a materials management capacity. He retired from Canada Wire and Cable at 62 and died in 1990 at the age of 70.

The decision by Dick Bell to immigrate to Canada ultimately became my “opportunity of a lifetime.” It afford me a university education, and a successful career that led me back to confectionery industry.

In 1968, I began my business career in marketing and sales in the consumer packaged goods business. After stints at Bristol Myers, Beecham, and Leo Burnett Advertising, I moved to Vancouver and eventually became CEO of Jacobs Suchard’s North American coffee and confectionery operation. At one time, Suchard’s portfolio included a US company known as Brach’s whose specialty was hard candy. Eventually, Brach’s and Suchard was sold and I became a strategy consultant. Now 69 years old, I spend my time writing books and blogs, playing tennis, and enjoying my life with my wife of 45 years, my children and grandchildren. In 2015, my business book, “Do Less Better. The Power of Strategic Sacrifice in a Complex World” was published by Palgrave Macmillan USA.

Thank you Trebor, for that opportunity of a lifetime.

Posted in International, Main, Memories, People | 1 Comment

All about Black Jacks

PackGiantBlackJacksA lowres

The Black Jack site is up and running. Yes – a website dedicated entirely to the aniseed, mouth-staining, divide-people-like-marmite wonder that is the Black Jack.

BJ aficionado Lee Dalloway has lovingly gathered a lot of information, pictures and stories about this humble sweet. Talking of her childhood, a Lydia confesses, “I liked Black Jacks because many of the other kids didn’t like them, so I used to buy them so I didn’t have to share. I know it sounds bad, but I’d still do the same now…”

You’ll discover some recipes such as Black Jack Vodka, whose ingredients simply comprise 10 bars of Black Jacks and a bottle of vodka. (If that’s too much for you, you can now buy ready-made Black Jack Vodka.) Watch out for a large photo of Black Jack cupcakes, with some Fruit Salad cupcakes in the background.

Indeed the clash between Fruit Salad V Black Jack pops up on the Homepage with an invitation to vote for which you prefer. Now, who out there wants to create a website just about Fruit Salad?

Posted in Main, Memories, Products | 2 Comments

The life of a Forest Gate Driver

John Witherington has been in touch to share his memories of delivering sweets from Forest Gate. He writes:

I started work for Trebor in February 1960 as a van boy at Forest Gate with Tommy Lawley as my driver. Mr Braithwaite was the transport manager. I went on to become a driver and actually drove the van in your picture with the lollypopman outside the factory (see below). I left the company in 1964 but still have many fond memories of my time working there. I visited many of the factories under the Trebor umbrella – such as Sharps, Clarnico, Jamesons Chocolates and of course Woodford – but alas the van boys were never allowed to go to Chesterfield with the drivers, which I deeply regret.

John Witherington

Here’s a picture of me as a van boy from around 1961. I’m standing in front of our then new van, while delivering to the back entrance of a shop in Hastings.

Rob Forest Gate 2 Reduced

Rob-Forest-Gate-Lollipop-Man-croppedThese two other photos (which appear on the website as part of /pictures/factory life/Forest Gate in the 60s) are from a year or so later. Both vans are backed onto a portable conveyer belt which we used to unload the crates of empty jars, which fed down through a hole in the wall into the jar wash in the basement. The smaller van (of which we had two) was one I later drove. Van boys who became drivers could only drive these two vans until they reached 21.

The other van is an ex Sharps van with the trailer repainted in the new Trebor colours and was mainly used for running goods between Forest Gate and Woodford. Opposite the factory, on the other side of the road, the vans were washed, refueled and parked ready for the next day’s deliveries. The two end loading bays (which you can just see in front of a van) were the export bays, where sweets going to Chesterfield and exports for Woodford were loaded and goods coming from Chesterfield and Woodford were unloaded.

During my time as a van boy our area was mainly the south coast, from Hastings through to Portsmouth, which usually involved a couple of nights away from home each week. We went out on the Monday with around 20 plus drops, back Tuesday, then a day run on Wednesday to a wholesaler in Southwick by the name of J Tollhurst, then another two day run Thursday and Friday.

I remember many social events. There was the annual Directors’ dance where they hired the Ilford Palais and the whole factory was invited with a guest to let their hair down for the evening. I very much remember Mr Kenyon, who is mentioned in your book, as being the life and soul of the party; he was a well respected man while I was there.  Other events included car rallies, socials in the canteen and one where they took all the van boys and young lads in the factory for a weekend in Yorkshire.

Posted in Forest Gate, Main, Memories, People | Leave a comment

Did you make Black Jacks?

Lee Dalloway is setting up a website all about Black Jacks. Just Black Jacks. And he’d love to hear from anyone who used to make them. Here’s what he says:

I’m currently in the process of setting up a new website dedicated to all things Black Jacks related. Those delicious black, aniseedy penny chews we used to buy from the corner shop as kids, and initially made by Trebor.

I’m ideally looking for someone who worked at the factory that produced these sweets and would be willing to answer a few questions on the production process of Black Jacks, or anyone with childhood memories/anecdotes on these delicious treats.

If you think you can help, please do get in touch via

Many thanks

Lee Dalloway


Posted in Main, Memories, Products | 1 Comment


Does anyone remember Scooples? They were an unusual product developed by Trebor in 1988 – a crispy wholegrain snack, shaped to scoop up a variety of fillings, to be eaten hot or cold. Aimed at the UK crispbread market, they were made by Trebor subsidiary The Lambourn Food Company in Newbury.

Here’s an article about them in The Grocer of April 1988. Does anyone know anything more about Scooples? How were they made? How successful were they? Do you have any pictures?Grocer 16 April 1988 - Trebor Scooples Cropped

Posted in Main, Memories | Leave a comment

Trebor in America

Several months ago Ivan Gibson got in touch with memories of Trebor’s involvement in the United States. Ivan left for the US in January 1966 as the firm’s first overseas placement. Previously he’d worked as a territory salesman for Sharps. Now he was to spend a year with Broadway Confections, Trebor’s partner in the country.

PackRegalCrownsaless moire

Prior to this, Trebor had enjoyed phenomenal success in America with Regal Crowns. Ian Marks remembered Chesterfield factory creaking under the pressure of making over a hundred tons a week of Regal Crown Sour Lemons for the US; more than 3,000 tons of this popular candy sold there altogether. This achievement was instrumental in Trebor winning in 1966 the Queen’s Award to Industry for exports.

IntPromUSSirREgalCrown1963Chicago Reduced

Here’s a picture from a Chicago Trade Show in 1963. The Regal Crown promotion features an archetypal English gent – with bowler hat, pipe and umbrella – rowing a boat full of product. The caption above reads ‘Frightfully sorry we can’t meet the demand for Regal Crown Sour Fruits. We’re getting them here as fast as we can!’ Such promotions clearly worked. The success of Regal Crowns was instrumental in Trebor winning in 1966 the Queen’s Award to Industry for exports.

Ivan Gibson Broadway Confections

Later in 1966 we can see Ivan at Broadway Confections. He’s on the left beside Ben Schnapp, proprietor of Broadway Confections. On the right sits Martin Schnapp, Ben’s nephew who was the firm’s sales director.

Along with Ivan arrived new product from Britain. ‘The idea,’ says Ivan ‘was to introduce four Trebor 10 cent rolls on the back of the success achieved with Regal Crown.’ Here’s the arrival of the first two 20′ containers holding 65,000lbs of 10 cent rolls: the first sweets to arrive in the US in this way.


Posted in Chesterfield, Events, International, Main, People | 1 Comment

Chesterfield retirement pictures

Darren Taylor’s got back in touch with some more retirement pictures from Chesterfield. His mum Doreen Taylor (nee Saxton) has filled in as many names as she can. Can you add any?

First up is the retirement of Ann Powell in the early to mid 1970s.

Retirement An nPowell reduced Front row from left: June Chapman, Marie ?, Brenda Bramley, June East, unknown, unknown, Bill Reid, Ann Powell, unknown, Doreen Taylor, Marion Straw, Jack Straw, Val Wilbraham, Gwen Horton, unknown.

Back row: Pat ?, Margaret Furness, unknown, unknown, Chris Nuttall, Margaret ?, Marion ?, Pat Harrison, unknown.

Next is when Doreen’s best friend Shirley Johnson retired in 1994.

Shirley Johnston retirement reducedWomen from left: Diane?, Mandy?, Jill Gascoyne, Denise Fletcher, Ann Slater, Diane?, Shirley Johnson, Jannete Scattergood, Mona Freeman, Doreen Taylor, Pat Harrison, June Chapman, Rita Armstrong, Vicky Weston and Rita Soar.

Men from left: Mike Parkin, Andrew Cummings, Richard Tudsbury, unknown, Steve Collins, Norman ?, John Dicker, unknown.

Doreen also found an old Working Together from November 1960 – the year she started her 45 year career with the company. It included this retirement notice of Cave Gladwin, who joined Trebor when the Chesterfield factory was set up in 1942 during the war.

Cave retires reduced

Posted in Chesterfield, Main, Memories, People | Leave a comment