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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HISTORY TODAY published my first essay on a SUGAR LUMP in October 2001.

Written by Ron Noon at 15:47 on Sunday, July 28th 2019

In composing this short blog I wondered just how many people would read it and be genuinely interested in my fact of the day? Anyway here I vaingloriously go: History’s most famous sugar lump, the animated cartoon character Mr Cube has reached his three score and ten?  70 years of age on a very wet July 28th 2019.

So Happy Birthday “you psalm singing little bugger”! “Excuse me” responds the sensitive reader. Well by way of explanation, after Mr Cube’s first appearance in the Evening Standard on July 28th 1949 the command from the President of Tate & Lyle, the Imperial Sugar Giant threatened by Labour leader Clem Atlee’s plans to nationalise the sugar industry, was that this powerfully symbolic ally of the Tories and Fleet Street “must always be a knight in shining armour. He must never be a psalm singing little bugger”!

But the only sugar cube in history with a prefix, did become precisely that. A little bugger with prefix motives. In achieving them he was a brilliant success. Anti-nationalisation slogans like Tate not State, Dear, Dear, Dearer and so many other messages targeted at the “Socialist hydra” appeared on sugar packets daily and in a free press that gave Mr Cube free advertising reaching millions. Britain’s version of Asterix the Gaul helped reduce Labour’s massive 1945 majority to just 6 in the General Election of 1950. When the Tories returned to power in 1951, Mr Cube was a powerful illustrative ally of more than just Tate & Lyle in a climate of grey austerity, rationing “BBC steam radio” and absent digital data from Cambridge Analytica! 

Anyway pun aside, that is why on this little bugger’s 70th birthday, I’d like to state an early priority in terms of resuming my blogs and my never ending loyalty to the boys and girls from the whitestuff. That has never changed and what we achieved in 2006, 2007 and 2008 was always intended to be a living and vibrant public history legacy.  After four years of inactivity because of the devastating stroke my darling wife Gail suffered in April 2015 my family want me to pick up the sugar bowl and reactivate this site as well as doing everything I can as Gail’s patient carer. She want’s me to do it and so I will try to make a start by getting back some of this once “historic’ sites, freshness and relevance to our city and the wider “sugar world”  of Love Lane Lives. The sooner the better.

A couple of years back I made a few statements of intent but now I have to match that with the reality of new blogs and new ideas and links. Not easy because composing this and writing late evening after a long but wonderfully enjoyable christening day for our eighth grandchild Florence, is very hard. I’ve obviously lost the knack and the confidence that I had when blogs were “saturated” with the accumulating knowledge from my sugar research and my passion for writing about the extraordinary ordinary lives of those boys and girls from the whitestuff, who worked at Henry Tate’s mother mother plant.  Tonight’s writing is a step towards rekindling that dedication and enthusiasm and I promise those who are genuinely interested in my fact of TODAY that I will pick up at the very least later on this week the history of a lump of sugar that provides “a whole lesson in political economy, in politics and also in morality”.

My great sugar mentor Albert E Sloane had even more choice language to describe Mr Cube than Leonard Lyle.