The Guinness Book of Record claims that Lyle’s Golden Syrup is the oldest brand still in existence today, the design of the tins having been unchanged since 1885.
The image still depicts a dead lion surrounded by a swarm of bees. There is also a quote from the Bible where in the Book of Judges, Chapter 14, Verse 14, the strong man Samson was said to have killed a lion and then returned to the scene to find that some bees had formed a comb of honey within the creature’s rotting corpse. The sight of this resulted in Samson’s comment: “...out of the strong came forth sweetness”; the very same words that are quoted on every Syrup tin - and it all began in 1865 when Abram Lyle set up his Glebe Sugar Company in Greenock, in Scotland. 
Lyle's factory in Greenock 

Golden Syrup was the result of waste produced in the refining process. The deliciously sweet, sticky syrup went on to sell in great quantities which eventually  resulted in Abram Lyle (see left) moving his company south, basing it in Plaistow on the outer edges of East London where he was able to concentrate solely on the syrup's manufacture. 

And Lyle's  East End refinery on the Thames was in very close proximity to another belonging to Henry Tate.

Henry Tate was the son of a Unitarian minister who  started his professional life as a Lancashire grocer but he also entered a business partnership with John Wright, a sugar refiner from Liverpool.
Henry Tate
Although that partnership came to an end, Henry continued to be involved in the sugar business, setting up his refinery on the Thames and developing the popular sugar cube – an enduring product that even went on to have a cartoon character built around it with the creation of Mr Cube in 1949.
But, long before that, at around the same time that Abram Lyle was attaining success with his Syrup, Henry Tate was using his own great wealth to fund the Tate Gallery in London, to which he donated his own impressive collection of art.
With  foundations built in the Victorian age the two companies did not actually merge until 1921, by which time they were refining half of the country’s sugar. And now, just like Cadbury’s before, the brand has been sold to an American firm – with American Sugar Refining recently acquiring the historic business for £211 million.
I wonder if Mr Tate or Mr Lyle would find that news to be so sweet, or whether it would leave a somewhat sour taste in their mouths?


  1. I do adamantly believe in separation between church and everything, but I guess, in this cake, I mean case, one biblical reference won't hurt.

    Great post. Essie. Loved it.

  2. The site of the factory in Greenock is still there

    British Sugar are the owners (?)