Love Lane Lives

The history of sugar in Liverpool and the effects of the closure of the Tate & Lyle sugar refinery, Love Lane

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Date Night: The Tates & Lyles yoked together in a Feb 27 1921 MARRIAGE.

Written by Ron Noon at 14:01 on Saturday, February 27th 2021

“On 27th February 1921, the British sugar world was appraised of the most important news…of its structures’ evolution: a merger was about to take place between the firms Henry Tate and Sons and Abram Lyle and Sons.” Phillipe Chalmin. The Making of a Sugar Giant:Tate & Lyle 1859 to 1989.

History used to get a bad name because it was associated in too many people’s minds with dates and memorising them, rather than the more challenging and intellectually challenging task of interpretation and analysis of WHY those dates were significant. INTERPRETATION and selection are very much part of the DNA of REAL History and that’s why it was, always will be a vitally important subject, one that is perennially contested and fought over.

“History is the lie that historians agree upon” opined Voltaire in the Oyster circa 1958 (Fact or Lie?) It’s not a verifiable fact but bias and subjectivity and where we come from and are patterned, shaped and “socialised”, enters into everything that “we” opine upon. (FACT: Anyone who ever used the OPINE word in Croccy where I grew up would not have survived the Oyster and after after a disconsolate walk up Middle Way to the Lobster would have sprinted out to catch a 14c down to the Pier Head, hopefully to get back to the Wirral.)

SOME PUNDITS would say that history was/is about developing the memory at the expense of the intelligence”! If that were the case I must be getting more and more intelligent as I travel through this last of the Summer Wine phase of my life as a teacher of History. (That is decidedly subject to selection and interpretation of EVIDENCE. “Facts are sacred, opinion is free.” A DEAD but erudite editor of the MANCHESTER GUARDIAN.)

A KEY POINT is that “a people without a past is a people disposessed”. Yes IT IS. It’s also a source of NATIONAL MYTH MAKING. Would you trust the present incumbent of No. 10 with his views of BRITISH HISTORY? Would you have trusted the incumbent of 10 Downing Street 31 years ago at Prime Ministers Question Time when she replied to this pompous chap?

“Is my right honourable friend aware that there is considerable concern about the teaching of history in our schools today? Instead of teaching what are vaguely called themes why can we not go back to the Good old days when we learned dates by heart and learned the names of the kings and queens of England, and of our great statesmen and warriors and of our battles and of the glorious deeds of our past.” Sir John Stokes

“As usual my honourable friend is absolutely right. This is the subject of a very very vigorous debate as to what children should be taught in History. I agree with him. Most of us are expected to learn from experience of history, and we can’t do that unless we know it. They should know the great landmarks of British history and should be taught them at school. I agree totally with my honourable friend.” The Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher.


Tongue in Cheek answer! THE CONGRESS OF MERSEYSIDE circa 1981.

The Congress of Merseyside The comment column in The Echo on February 3rd coined this phrase to describe the convening of a Special Conference, to fight the closure announcement, adding that “this could well become an important milestone in the history of our community”.

But what if Mrs Thatcher refused to meet the delegation? She actually gave the request short shrift and referred it to the Minister of Agriculture, Peter Walker.

30th January 1981 was the day when Alfred Stocks the Chief Executive of the City of Liverpool wrote to the Prime Minister expressing the alarm felt by the City Council on hearing of the decision to close Love Lane, and then he followed that up with a second letter dated 2nd February. In that he reported a special meeting which had been convened in Liverpool at which there were representatives from all Merseyside District Councils, the leader of the Merseyside County Council, Members of Parliament and the European Parliament, the Bishop of Liverpool and the Archbishop of Liverpool, representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and the Trade Unions concerned. That was the Congress of Merseyside! Stocks was requesting a meeting of this far from ordinary deputation, with the Prime Minister.

Maggie’s own goal?  It was to take the actual closure and the Toxteth riots in June to smuggle her into to the city.