The owner of Edwardian Confectionery is Michael Barnett, a skilled sugar boiler since circa 1959. He was able to keep up the firms traditional production of a widely popular range in hand crafted boiled sweets and rock, still using copper boiling pans for mixing ingredients before a hand rolling process upon huge cooling tables. A Barnett family interest has since been expanded by relations adding city retail outlets branching out The Treat Kitchen.
Anyone around Huthwaite will fondly reference this small factory pronouncing its dialect spelt title. Company name did, nonetheless, convey its founding Edwards surname. And if or not it was by clever design, that still manages to market fact how the company continues an old traditional process of hand manufacturing their sweet products. It also could just be coincidence finding a Mrs Henrietta Sarah Elizabeth Edwards last listed 1941 amongst six established confectioners. But from marital home in New Zealand, Mrs Shirley Ward is unable to link much elder relations, when explaining her father Alan joined uncle Harold to begin this venture.
Harold Edwards apparently served out his apprenticeship at a confectionery firm believed situated in Kirkby. When jobs became hard to find after the Second World War, Harold suggested his brother Alan could join him in trying to supplement both their incomes by boiling up and making sweets themselves. They claimed apple sugar filled initial glucose demands when sugar imports were still rationed, which soon began reaping reward.
Building upon growing success, the brothers eventually sought premises from which to establish this viable enterprise. A spacious plot made available by extending far end of Barker Street gives current address. At first though, that only sited a large wooden shed erected to simply serve as their workplace fronting the roadside. Shirley shares earliest memories from year 1952, when a three year old Miss Edwards stood inside that upon a crate helping mum bottle sweets. And packing foil lined tea chests destined for British Guiana reveals how Edwardian Confectionery had largely been established through early years by exports far beyond local sales.
Harold eventually built a modest sized bungalow aside the factory unit, addressing 79 Barker Street. Allowing Alan to then do likewise, their works first needed to be relocated to its still present position at far rear corner that plot. In fact, the old wooden factory was replaced to create a much larger floor space by joining up two Nissan Huts. Brothers once explained they'd managed to cheaply acquire a couple of ex army prefab units, and there's little doubt now, they'd found them in Huthwaite as redundant remnants of its Prisoner of War Camp. Accessing the factory yard openly remains between those two bungalows since completing the layout circa 1960. Lacking a visible sales frontage did mystify many customers looking for our
Tuffy Factree shop.
Manufacturing vast variety of boiled sweets ranged between Pear Drops and Little Fishes favoured by smaller children, to individually wrapped soft centred flavours treating adult tastes. But factory profits came by selling wholesale. Their reputation was not widely asserted until pit workers could afford seaside holidays, and the British custom of returning with small gifts turned into hearing expectant cries
Bring us back a stick of rock!
Edwardian Confectionery became the company name best associated with traditionally made rock. Fruit and aniseed flavours were not just kids coastal treats, but mint was the appealling choice elsewhere. Their unique winning formula was by individually wrapping pieces. No more sticky handling in underground heat, when becoming often found in coal miners snap tins. Stopping crafty pit ponies eating it first was more difficult.
This Huthwaite factory initially turned into an entire family concern. Brothers employed their own wives, father, plus any other close relations in various capacities. Harold, being the skilled sugar boiler would chiefly take charge over production. Alan mainly kept their accounts as book keeper, but could fix the rather antique sweet wrapping machines between delivery driving. Employing more staff hardly caused problems because mutual friendships easily found most willing ladies neighbouring within same street. Through all the productive years, Huthwaite folk did gradually replace each working family member as they in turn inevitably passed away.
After losing his wife and seeing off his daughters own family emigration, Alan ultimately faced next sad death of his brother. He managed to continue the business alone, maintaining trusted loyalty to both customers and staff whom he prioritized when deciding upon retirement. Approaching another well reputed and similarly long trained sugar boiler, he finally offered Mr Barnett the established company name as a going concern, with a financial deal difficult for him to refuse. Martin also purchased the fronting bungalow, which did mutually form part of their agreement. Making that his own home, the current owner has also proven true to his word by keeping a very genuine interest and equally high company standards from guestimated year about 1986.
Mr Alan Edwards made basic plans for a comfortable retirement - to be reunited with family. Mrs Shirley Ward expressed much pride, and thankfulness her father shared his last fifteen years with them all in New Zealand.
Please note lack of specific years, genealogy links, or photos so far of these influential Edwards in Huthwaite.
Written 24 Aug 13 Revised 19 Apr 17 © by Gary Elliott