Tate’s first venture into cane refining was in 1859 when he went into partnership with sugar refiner John Wright in Liverpool. When their partnership ended, Tate’s two sons, Alfred and Edwin joined the business and Henry Tate & Sons was born.
Tate had an eye for innovation and technological advances. During the construction of the Love Lane Refinery in Liverpool in the early 1870s, he adapted the plans to accommodate a new refining technique that would increase the yield of white sugar. When the refinery became operational in 1872, it produced 400 tons of sugar a week.
Tate was keen to extend his business, and saw London as a potentially profitable market. In 1878 Henry Tate & Sons opened the Thames Refinery at Silvertown in East London, where Tate & Lyle-branded sugar is still made today.
Henry Tate was created a baronet in 1898 and died in 1899. As well as leaving money to many good causes, he gifted his collection of contemporary paintings to the nation, forming the nucleus of the famous Tate Gallery, now known as Tate Britain.
Find out more about the history of Tate & Lyle by visiting our history page.