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This is the Tate and Lyle sugar factory, cunningly enough it lives on Factory road pretty much smack bang in the middle of my ‘patch’.  When I was on the FRU and ordered to, “go and drive around – see if you can find someone injured”, I would often drive past it.  As you may know I’m a bit of a geek and factories full of pipes, chimneys belching strange smelling smoke and arcane bits of machinery interest me greatly.  However, until today I’d never actually been inside this behemoth of a factory.

The call was pretty simple – the hydraulics of a fork lift truck had burst, and the fluid had splashed into his eyes.  Luckily he had been wearing safety goggles, so had been spared the full brunt of the spray.  The companies first aider/fireman had already washed his eyes out with plenty of saline, so there was little for us to do except take him to hospital to make sure that nothing had scratched the front of his eye.

But that wasn’t the fun bit…

To show us where the patient was a security guard met us at the main gate – then he jumped into a Vauxhall Astra and drove like a man possessed through the factory grounds towards the patient.

I was driving.

I got to chase him.  I got to chase him the length of the factory.

More importantly I got to chase him through narrow turnings and under footbridges full of pipes.  Smoke was billowing out from vents, while I dodged between lorries and powered up ramps.

In my head the theme music to The Sweeny was playing.

I just may have giggled like a nine year old girl.

While my crewmate attended to the patient I had time to whip out my phone and take a picture of the factory floor.  The place is huge and this is just a small part of the process that goes towards getting a spoonful of sugar in your morning cup of tea.

Yet another thing that I love about my work – I get to go into some strange places.

That, and I get to chase cars.

Inside the sugar factory

(No, this blog is not about to turn into  But I would like to go back there with my proper camera and get some nice pictures of rusty walkways and the like)

16 thoughts on “Sugar”

  1. oooh I know what you mean about the mysterious workings of factories .. I also have an unnatural love for pylons dispite the fact that I find them slightly scary. …. I'm going to regret posting this when I'm more awake

  2. I can just imagine your glee as you did a car chase through a factory… Did you have the lights and sirens on too?

  3. I'm sure if they'd known you were coming they'd have piled up stacks of empty boxes for you to drive through.

  4. if you want fun driving experiances, try driving around kronaspan, on the wales borders. that is fun

  5. My dad took me to that factory when I was about 6 – he was a shipbroker at the time and mostly chartered sugar ships around the world. I remember three things:1) the several storey high mountain of raw sugar that was about a weeks supply

    2) the bulldozers driving around in the ship's holds shovelling the sugar out

    3) the entire ship's interior being covered in brown paper to stop the sugar getting into the carpets and fittings.

    Coupled with the smell, this was an awesome day out for a kid.

    And you get to play sweeney in it. Not fair.

  6. Lynn that comment reminds me of rimmer of red dwarf, do you have a collection of pylons 😀

  7. The chap was lucky to have got just sprayed. I saw some photos of a man's hand which had caught the brunt of a hydraulic leak and basically had been blown up to hot water bottle size before exploding.

  8. You, Tom Renoyalds! are brilliant. The work you put into this site is phenomenal – will a hug as a donation help?Glenda

  9. Ah yes rimmer, fine figure of a man……… ahhh nooo shoot me now. No I don't collect pictures, or talk about them at parties … honest….

  10. The Tate & Lyle factory is amazing. I used to drive past it every day when I worked in Newham. They even have a little archive and museum about sugar : ) Sad I know but I was working for a Museum & Gallery service at the time. They are one of tha last places that still make a cone of sugar (large conical block that you need sugar snips to cut chunks off). Kind of taking the one lump or two rather literally. Check out St Lukes Church, Silvertown as it now has a music hall inside it. Have fun in the sunshine.

  11. Reminds me of when Homer stole a load of sugar & kept it in his garden- at one stage he pulls out thislittle english guy drinking a cup of tea & says 'Where d'you get the sugar for that tea?!'

    He says in an upper-class accent 'I NICKED IT! & I'll do it again!!'

    Ker-lassic Simpsons & yes, I know I'm sad..

    By the way, I just want to PUNCH that woman just reading about her!!

    Also – Well done on FANTASTIC blog & book – kudos *big time*!

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