In The Sugar Girls of Love Lane, Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi, the authors of the Sunday Times bestseller The Sugar Girls, tell the remarkable stories of those who worked at the famous Tate & Lyle factory in Liverpool.
For over a hundred years until it closed in 1981, Henry Tate’s flagship sugar refinery at Love Lane dominated the Liverpool skyline – and was the beating heart of the local community. More than 10,000 workers passed through the doors of the factory during its lifetime, with some families counting four or even five generations of service. Young women leaving school in the post-war years were drawn by the good wages and the unrivalled social life that Tate & Lyle offered.
When they arrived, they started at the very bottom, sweeping sugar off the floors, before graduating to packing and weighing by hand. The work was tough, with girls expected to stack heavy bags of sugar onto pallets five feet high, and by the end of the day their arms were aching and their stockings full of sugar dust. But, despite the hot, heavy work, they found their own ways of having fun, and the friendships they formed would last a lifetime. As well as the female friendships, many women met their future husbands at the factory, and expected their own children to follow in their footsteps.
Barrett and Calvi's social history of the post-war era casts a warm and nostalgic look back at one of the most iconic factories in the north, bringing back a vanished era of hard work, community spirit and simple pleasures.
Duncan Barrett studied English at Cambridge University and now works as a writer and editor, specialising in biography and memoir. He is also the author of The Sugar Girls, GI Brides, The Girls Who Went To War and When the Germans Came.
Nuala Calvi is a writer and journalist. She trained at London College of Printing and has written for The Times, Independent, BBC, CNN and numerous Time Out books. She co-authored four previous books with Duncan Barrett.
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