Terry’s Confectionery Works
Terry’s originated in 1767 when William Bayldon and Robert Berry opened a shop in York selling candied peel, lozenges and other sweetmeats. In 1823 Bayldon and Berry were joined by Joseph Terry who had married Bayldon’s niece, Harriet Atkinson. This saw the company occupy premises at St Helens Square.
Terry’s was unusual in that it exported its products around the country from an early stage. When still at St. Helen’s Square it exported to 75 towns across the north of England, into the Midlands, and as far south as Luton and London. The quantities were all small, rarely exceeding a value of £10 with a maximum of £18. Road carriers were preferred to rail.
When the business began to expand rapidly, especially in the manufacture of peel, and larger premises were opened at Clementhorpe, the size of consignments increased, and railways probably played a larger role. Joseph Terry had originally leased a riverside site at Clementhorpe to house his stocks of peel. The riverside location was important as all supplies of sugar, cocoa, glucose, orange and lemon rinds in brine arrived by steamer (along with coal supplies) on the river. Twice a week the steam packet vessel would disgorge its cargo of sugar, cocoa and coal.
Joseph’s son, Joseph Terry (Later Sir Joseph Terry) joined the firm in 1851, and was responsible for the new factory at Clementhorpe. He drove forward the expansion of production using innovative steam-powered machinery. In turn, his eldest son, Thomas, joined the business, and became a director in 1880. Thomas built up the export trade, especially with Australia and New Zealand.
Work began on the large new factory at Clementhorpe on the banks of the Ouse in 1862. By 1867 the Company had a catalogue of over 400 items, including 13 varieties of chocolate goods.
Terry’s Confectionery Works (See below). This is a bird’s eye view of the Works in about 1894 looking west across the River Ouse. The name ‘Terry & Sons’ is emblazoned across the front of the building. The main building on the river front was about 80 metres in width. This was where the main manufacturing took place. Behind it are the management and administration buildings while, to the left are further manufacturing areas and the two furnaces, each with its smoking chimney (Photo from Hugh Murray).
The Yorkshire Gazette was able to report on 29th December 1888 that “Sir Joseph Terry and Sons, wholesale and export confectioners, had seen good business during the year – and quite as good as in 1887.”
“The Late Sir Joseph Terry”, (From an original by Photo Petershaw of York, captured by John Stevens, September 2019).
Sir Joseph Terry was, by this time, a renowned citizen of York. A successful entrepreneur, he also devoted his energies to civic and philanthropic activities. Sir Joseph was described as balding and rotund, but with plenty of side hair and mutton-chop whiskers. He became a councillor for the Monk Ward in 1860, and was appointed sheriff in 1869. Between 1874 and 1894 he was an alderman, and Lord Mayor four times – in 1875, 1886, 1887 and 1890 – as well as being Deputy Lord Mayor twice. He was knighted in 1887 for services to industry, and was active in York’s business and charitable organisations. He died of heart failure in January 1898.
By the mid 1890s the works had grown to cover most of the land between the river and Bishopthorpe Road, an area of almost 1.2 hectares. The company made a bewildering array of confectionery products including candied lemon, citron and orange peel, medicated and other lozenges and a variety of chocolates.
The photo above shows two arched entrances to the works off the river front. The right-hand one led through into a large courtyard, and was bordered by offices for caretakers and timekeepers. Straight ahead lay the function rooms for entertaining corporate guests, boardrooms, offices for managers and administrators.
The works made widespread use of coal for heating and processing, with a wide variety of steam-powered machinery. Two large furnaces on the southern range of the buildings provided the essential power.
The works were divided into a number of departments, each one focusing on a specific product or range of related products. The boiled sugar department involved flavouring the refined sugar and mixing the ingredients. In the starch room gum-based products were made. There were also liquorice and lozenge rooms. Further departments were devoted to chocolate products, covering the whole process from mixing to packing, and the manufacture of candied fruit peel. The latter arrived at the plant preserved in salt, which had to be removed before they could be crystallised by heat and sugar-coated. By the late nineteenth century these candied peels were reported to be in decline, whereas chocolate products were booming.
Other products had a medicinal component, rather than being pure confectionery. These included violet, orange and opopomax cachous and lozenges of exotic flavours – ipecacuanha, squill, tolu, coltsfoot, liquorice, Pontefract cakes, cayenne, ginger and strong mints. Other areas of the plant were concerned with storage, bottling, labelling, packing and quality control. The latter was especially important for products for distribution through chemists and pharmacies.
By 1890 the workforce at Clementhorpe had grown to around 300. Van Wilson describes how they started work each day at 6 a.m. and worked a 59-hour week. The working week was gradually reduced, reaching 47 hours in 1919. Better overtime pay and longer annual holidays were also introduced, partly as a result of trades union pressure. On 24 May 1890 the Yorkshire Evening Press recorded how “The employees of Messrs. J. Terry and Son’s confectionery works, Clementhorpe, York, have been conceded advantages without having resort to trial of strength between master and man, which is always attended by unfortunate results.”
Terry’s Boiling Department early twentieth century (Source: York Press)
Terry’s Lozenge Department early twentieth century (Source: York Press)
In the late 1890s the Clementhorpe Works of Messrs. Joseph Terry and Sons could rightly be described as “one of the largest and most important manufacturing concerns in the city of York.”
A drawing of the works in 1907 shows the 3-storey river frontage, with a number of boats loading. The wording on the factory front now reads ‘ Joseph Terry & Sons Limited, Wholesale and Export Confectioners’. The name ‘Terry’, written vertically, has been added to one of the furnace chimneys.
Further extension of the premises took place in 1919, and there is a photo in the Borthwick Institute of the foundations being laid.
The modern extension to Terry’s Confectionery Works viewed from Cherry Hill Lane (Source: Hugh Murray)
Looking up Clementhorpe towards the modern extension to Terry’s Works. (Photo Hugh Murray)
The Clementhorpe works reached its highest state of development in the 1920s. Apart from the main plant there was also a cocoa storage facility on Vine Street. Eventually, however the Company simply outgrew the site at Clementhorpe, and a decision was taken to move most of the manufacturing activity to a greenfield site. A new factory was designed and constructed on the outskirts of the City on Bishopthorpe Road. This had been open countryside up to that point, so it was possible to design an imposing, modern factory complex where all the latest machinery could be installed.
Following the construction of the new works at Bishopthorpe between 1926 and 1930, Clementhorpe continued, but mainly as a storage facility. Limited manufacturing included mint lozenges and sugared almonds, involving sugar boiling and crystallising processes.
Work was often dangerous. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 3 July 1925 reported the death of a Clementhorpe man, Charles Brown aged 25, a plasterer’s labourer. He fell head-first off a 9 foot platform at the Terry’s Works.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Visits to Works, 1936, report includes the following:
“Messrs. Joseph Terry and Sons Ltd., York. The firm was established in York in 1767, and moved to its present site at Bishopthorpe Road, where the main works are now situated... The old factory near the river at Clementhorpe is still used for heavy processes such as the manufacture of chocolate before manipulation into the various forms of plain and assorted chocolates offered to the public.”
By 1937 the overwhelming majority of Terry’s employees were at the new Bishopthorpe Road works; just 136 were still working at Clementhorpe.
 This date was celebrated in a deluxe product called ‘1767 Assortment’ and a works taxi with the registration 1767 VY.
 The Story of Terry’s of York, Van Wilson, York Oral History Society, 2017.
 Victoria County History