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Love Lane Lives - the boys & girls from the whitestuff

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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Workers plan to stop sugar supply!

Written by Ron Noon at 15:22 on Friday, March 11th 2011

I was with Albert E Sloane on Wednesday afternoon in the Punch and Judy and I told him of a GUESTBOOK entry from Mike Greenhall “the sugar boiler from down under”! Mike has written in to our site a number of times before and his latest email from a still shaken New Zealand was in response to my request for comments from people about their memories and experiences of the 90 day redundancy notice period. Was there an alternative to the closure of the Liverpool refinery? “Maggie Thatcher” had clearly snubbed Liverpool and was busily fine tuning what became one of the best and arguably most infamous of all acronyms? THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE was popularised and propagandised as TINA but John MacLean was not having that and before I reproduce Mike’s comments this is what Albert E Sloane’s friend in conflict argued:

“We believe there is an alternative to closure of the Liverpool refinery, but to investigate and carry out that alternative requires time. We are asking very simply for a suspension of the 90 day notice to explore that alternative.”


I wonder what impact a PROTEST SONG of the calibre of that produced by HILLSIDE SECONDARY SCHOOL, 28 and a half years later and recently played on this site for the very first time, would have had on the struggle? Both the title, SAVE OUR SUGAR, (S.O.S.) and the words sung out with such gusto by those wonderful school kids were/are the biggest retort to those who get bitten by TINA.

Here’s the link for a quick refresher in terms of the lyrics and the pash in which the kids delivered the SAVE OUR SUGAR song:


Hi Ron,
      You asked about the 90 day notice,  to be honest, I don’t remember very much about the 90 day notice period now. I do remember that just before Christmas, we were working on a 10,000 ton export order and just completed it before the Christmas shut down.

We had worked flat out to complete the order in the hope that it would prove our worth. Instead, we were informed that, though we had completed the order efficiently and ahead of time, the refinery would not re-open after the Christmas shut-down, and with the exception of a few management personnel who were to be transferred to London, the rest of the employees would be receiving redundancy notices.

Though we had been half expecting it, it still came as a shock. As I had come straight   from school into the refinery, I could not imagine being employed anywhere else, particularly as my particular skills, sugar boiling, whilst being very important in the sugar industry, were of no use at all outside the industry.
  When we returned after the shut down, I remember there were all sorts of plans to fight the closure with offers of support from various unions, particularly from the docks and transport unions, but the heart had gone out of the people, we had been worn down to the point where most just wanted it over and done with.

We had to turn in every day of the three month notice period and during that time we had to empty out all the tanks and storage vessels. As each was emptied, it was locked off, I believe to prevent sabotage, not that anyone cared any more. We spent most of each working day sitting in various rest rooms round the factory killing time. I spent most of my time in the Pansman’s changing room on the Recovery Pan Floor along with Dicky Hart, the Recovery Pansman and Sid Jones, the Recovery Receiverman.

I remember on one day, coming in from the canal car park, which was a section of canal alongside Pall Mall that had been filled in. I can’t remember now who I was with, but we were looking up at the refinery, from which a couple of wisps of steam were drifting up, and this person quietly said” It’s like a sleeping giant”. That’s what it was like, completely silent.

At some point during this time I remember attending a mass meeting in the Vauxhall Road Canteen during which Albert “Tod” Sloane addressed the meeting. I don’t remember much of what was said now but one thing I remember him saying and something which has stayed with me till this day “This is where we live!” It sounds corny now but Never was a truer word spoken. 

I hope this is of some interest, though it was a long time ago now and I don’t remember a lot! Give my regards to Albert,assuming he “hasn’t popped his clogs” recently!  “THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE!” Tell him I still remember.

Regards, Mike

I am delighted to say that Albert has decidedly not “popped his clogs” and was in fine form on Wednesday afternoon, very much cheered by Mike’s kind comments.

Michael Wray (MWW from the Wirral) responded to John’s lovely letter:

“Hi John. Besides working with Frank on a daily basis, I went down to a presentation at Tate & Lyle Croydon with your dad in 1978, The “Tate & Lyle News” had announced that the company was asking for employees’ ideas- not necessarily connected with sugar- into which the company could diversify. IIRC, Frank’s idea involved an innovative form of double-glazing. I’d also put forward a suggestion and we were both invited to a presentation at Croydon HQ. It was my first-ever visit to the capital, so Frank arranged that we should travel there by train together. Without him I would’ve been lost.”

Subsequent to that was a letter from Collette Kidd which again demonstrates how we can collectively ensure that Love Lane Lives live on:
“Hi John callaghan. I have an old picture of Frank callaghan and his mates, the drivers of tates. I was left it by my mum when she died. Your dad was good mates with my Uncle Gerry & John Mcgovern. ;Have you ever heard of them? They lived in Rose Place.”
P.S. I was handed this in the PJ last Wednesday. Can anyone remember the CRYSTAL team of 1968?