Royal Visit as Tate & Lyle celebrates 130 years of sugar refining in London

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HM The Queen and the HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited Tate & Lyle’s historic sugar refinery today in Silvertown, London, to commemorate 130 years of sugar refining at the site.

Thames Refinery began production in 1878 when Queen Victoria was on the throne and Disraeli was Prime Minister. Twenty-three Prime Ministers and five Monarchs later the refinery is still going strong and Tate & Lyle sugar remains one of the Nation’s most well-known household brands.

Tate & Lyle has processed cane sugar from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries for 130 years - even keeping production going through the London Blitz despite several direct hits – and today processes around 1 million tonnes of sugar every year.

A fortnight ago, Tate & Lyle announced that it would start the process of switching its entire UK retail cane sugars range to Fairtrade by the end of 2009 (beginning with 1kg bags of white granulated cane sugar). The Queen received a special edition bag of Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Cane Sugar commemorating 130 years of production and the first fortnight of Fairtrade.

Ian Bacon, Chief Executive of Tate & Lyle, Sugars said: “It is a great honour that Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh visited our historic site today and met so many of our employees. These are exciting times at Tate & Lyle. We are in the process of moving our entire retail cane sugars range to Fairtrade and are making significant investments at the refinery, including a novel biomass boiler which will cut fossil fuel consumption by 70% from 2009. Investments and innovation will help us ensure we remain a well-loved UK institution for the next 130 years!”

During the visit The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh toured the production process and also met two community partners based on the site: Auction My Stuff and Community Food Enterprise. Tate & Lyle invests in both organisations providing office space and equipment, business mentoring and financial support.


Interesting Facts

· 1878 was the year Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the telephone to Queen Victoria.

· The refinery’s annual output has increased from an average of 214 tonnes per week in 1878 to 1.1m tonnes per annum today.

· At its peak over 3,000 people worked at the refinery. Today around 1,000 people (including contractors) currently work on site.

· Vessels delivering raw cane sugar to Tate & Lyle are the largest cargo ships to berth in the Capital.

· Lyle’s Golden Syrup (which just celebrated its 125 birthday) is made just up the road at Plaistow Wharf – the two companies merged to create Tate & Lyle in 1921.

· Henry Tate endowed his collection of contemporary paintings to the nation. His bequests included funding the building of the famous Tate Gallery, now known as Tate Britain.

· On June 29, 1959 The Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh opened Redpath Sugars (then owned by Tate & Lyle) during their visit to Canada for the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway.

· 23 Prime Ministers: H. H. Asquith, Clement Attlee, Stanley Baldwin, Arthur Balfour, Tony Blair, Andrew Bonar Law, Gordon Brown, James Callaghan, Sir Henry Campbell -Bannerman, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Alec Douglas-Home, William Ewart Gladstone, Edward Heath, David Lloyd George, Ramsay MacDonald, Harold Macmillan, John Major, The Earl of Rosebery, The Marquess of Salisbury, Margaret Thatcher, and Harold Wilson.

· 5 Monarchs: Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI, Elizabeth II.

Notes to editors
Auction My Stuff is a social enterprise selling donated items on eBay by individuals and companies. All the selling is done by fantastic unemployed young people getting the skills, experience and confidence for work and every penny of profit goes to the parent charity Community Links. Young people come to Auction My Stuff because they want to learn new skills and get new experience to help them get work. Currently celebrating its first birthday, Auction My Stuff has provided more than 50 structured work placements and has raised more than £40,000 for charity in the first year alone. Community Food Enterprise Limited (CFE) is a not for profit community food business based in the London Borough of Newham which works to safeguard and sustain the right to the right food as a fundamental condition for individual and community health and well being. CFE’s aim is to develop a viable and sustainable community food enterprise that will provide training, capacity building and employment opportunities for members of the community. About 70% of CFE’s work is concentrated in nurseries and schools (key stage 2) and this includes delivering fruits to nurseries, assisting schools to set up fruit tuck shops and providing them with provisions for breakfast clubs. CFE also operates 13 Fixed Social Food Outlets and 1 Mobile Food Store.

Photos of the Royal Visit will be uploaded to the press release during the morning of 14 March 2008

Click here for our press image gallery

About Tate & Lyle: 
Supported by our 160-year history of ingredient innovation, we partner with customers to provide consumers with healthier and tastier choices when they eat and drink. We are proud that millions of people around the world consume products containing our ingredients every day.

Through our expertise in sweetening, fortification, and texture, we develop ingredient solutions which reduce sugar, calories, and fat, add fibre and protein, and provide texture and stability in categories including beverages, dairy, bakery, snacks, soups, sauces, and dressings.

We have more than 3,500 employees working in around 57 locations across 39 countries. Science, Solutions, Society is our brand promise and how we will achieve our purpose of Transforming Lives Through the Science of Food. By living our purpose we believe we can successfully grow our business and have a positive impact on society. We live our purpose in three ways, by supporting healthy living, building thriving communities and caring for our planet.

Tate & Lyle is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol TATE.L. American Depositary Receipts trade under TATYY. In the year to 31 March 2023, Tate & Lyle revenue from continuing operations totalled £1.75 billion. For more information, please visit or follow Tate & Lyle on LinkedinX (Twitter)Facebook or YouTube