A NEW exhibition has opened at York’s Chocolate Story in King’s Square to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of one of York’s most important companies, Terry’s.
No more excuse is needed to run a series of old photos showing what life was like inside the Terry’s factory for the people who worked there.
The photographs on these pages were supplied by York’s Chocolate Story. Many were brought in and given to the attraction by visitors who had once worked at Terry’s. And they give a wonderful glimpse of factory life both before and after the Second World War.
There are plenty of eyewitness accounts of what it was like to work at the factory, of course, thanks in part to York oral historian Van Wilson’s 2009 book The Story of Terry’s.
One of the people interviewed in Van’s book was Audrey Lambert, who started working in the factory just after the war. Her account is the perfect complement to the photographs we’ve got today.
“I worked on a conveyor belt, where the chocolates came down, and we’d to sort them,” Audrey told her interviewer.
At work in the Terry's packing room. Photo: York's Chocolate Story
“We did all the centres, and they’d go on to a big machine and get cut into different shapes, diamonds and squares, and then go somewhere else and get covered in chocolate. At the other end, they would boil the toffee. They put it on a big cool table and cut it up, it all got printed out into individual toffees.
“There was one big room of all the centres. The girls would have a little pan with hot water in, and they’d keep the soft liquid warm. They’d throw a cherry in, whip it round and put it on a tray, and that would be a cherry centre.
“And there was a rum truffle paste in there. The rum was very strong, we’d try it now and again. Neville was in charge, and he’d say, ‘Get a bit if you want’, but you only had it once, it was a bit strong, more like an essence.
Terry's packing room in the 1930s. Photo: York's Chocolate Story
“Then ginger, that would all be in barrels. It was like treacly syrup, and a bit further over was the pineapple, in rings in tins. You’d put them in like a pastry cutter and put a lid on, and push it down and they’d cut into segments...”
The history of Terry’s goes back much further than the 1940s, of course – all the way to the day in 1767 when a Mr Bayldon and a Mr Berry formed a partnership to sell lozenges, candied peel and other confectionery in a small shop in Bootham.
Terry's packing room in the 1960s. Photo: York's Chocolate Story
Joseph Terry himself was a comparative latecomer to the business. Born in York in 1793, he initially became apprenticed to an apothecary – what we’d call a pharmacist today.
But in 1823 he married Harriet Atkinson – Mr Berry’s sister-in-law – and joined the business, making cough lozenges, lemon and orange candied peel and other sweets. Two years later, he joined forces with George Berry, the son of one of his employers, to establish Terry and Berry in St Helen’s Square, York. By 1840 Terry and Berry were selling their products in 75 towns across the North of England.
Following Joseph Terry’s death in 1850, his three sons, including Joseph Jnr, established Joseph Terry & Sons. It became a major employer in York – so much so that by the time Joseph Jnr died in 1898 he merited a warm tribute in the Yorkshire Herald.
“There was no person in the city more beloved and respected,” the Herald noted.
Terry's shop, St Helen's Square. Photo: York's Chocolate Story
After Joseph Jnr’s death the firm passed to his son, Francis, and grandson Noel, who went on to introduce Terry’s classics such as Terry’s All Gold, the Chocolate Orange and, of course, the Chocolate Apple.
The company provided good, secure employment for generations of York people, before closing in 2005, with the loss of the 300 remaining jobs, having been bought by Kraft.
But while it is gone, it is not forgotten. York’s Chocolate Story’s new exhibition is a timely reminder of the Terry’s story in this 250th anniversary year.
- 250 Years of Terry’s runs at York’s Chocolate Story until December 31.
EARLY TERRY'S TIMELINE
Aerial view of the Terry's chocolate factory in 1938. Photo: York's Chocolate Story
1767: Mr. Bayldon and Mr. Berry form a partnership to sell lozenges, candied peel and other simple confectionery from a shop in Bootham.
1823: Joseph Terry, an apothecary, marries the sister-in-law of Mr. Berry and joins the firm of Bayldon & Berry.
1824: A factory and retail shop is built on St. Helens Square in York. Their main business was making and decorating wedding and christening cakes. The firm becomes so famous it is commissioned to decorate the christening cake of Edward VIII.
1825: Mr. Bayldon leaves the business and the elder Mr. Berry dies. Joseph Terry and Mr. Berry’s son become partners under the company name of Terry and Berry.
1828: The Terry and Berry partnership is dissolved and Joseph Terry takes over the business, now called Joseph Terry and Company.
1886: An addition is built at the Clementhorpe factory to produce chocolate as that part of the confectionery business begins to grow.
1895: The company name is changed to Joseph Terry & Sons Limited.
1923: Frank and Noel Terry join the family business and buy a site in Bishopthorpe Road. The new factory was opens in 1926. New products includethe Chocolate Apple (1926), Terry's All Gold (1930), and Terry's Chocolate Orange (1931).
Terry's admininstrative workers. Photo: York's Chocolate Story