This is Joan’s story, one of four stories from The Sugar Girls.During the Blitz and the years of rationing, the Sugar Girls kept Britain sweet. The work was back-breakingly hard, but the Tate & Lyle factory was more than just a workplace - it was a community, a calling, a place of love and support and an uproarious, tribal part of East London.
‘Joan had joined Tate & Lyle expressly for the social life, and she was determined to make the most of it. She could see that her old friend Peggy already had an established group of her own among the sugar girls, so she set about building a new set of friends. It wasn’t difficult for Joan, whose cheerful self-confidence, natural chattiness and naughty sense of humour acted as a magnet to those around her.’
In the years leading up to and after the Second World War thousands of women left school at fourteen to work in the bustling factories of London’s East End. Despite long hours, hard and often hazardous work, factory life afforded exciting opportunities for independence, friendship and romance. Of all the factories that lined the docks, it was at Tate & Lyle’s where you could earn the most generous wages and enjoy the best social life, and it was here where The Sugar Girls worked
This is an evocative, moving story of hunger, hardship and happiness, providing a moving insight into a lost way of life, as well as a timeless testament to the experience of being young and female.
Includes Joan’s own personal photographs of life as a sugar girl.
An authoritative and highly readable work of social history which brings vividly to life a fascinating part of East End life before it is lost forever.’ Melanie McGrath
‘Delightful, a terrific piece of nonfiction storytelling, and an authoritative and highly readable work of social history which brings vividly to life a fascinating part of East End life before it is lost forever.’ – Melanie McGrath, bestselling author of Silvertown and Hopping
‘This vivid and richly readable account of women’s lives in and around the Tate & Lyle East London works in the Forties and Fifties is written as popular social history, played for entertainment. If it doesn’t become a TV series to rival Call The Midwife, I’ll take my tea with ten sugars.’ Bel Mooney, Daily Mail
About the author
Duncan Barrett studied English at Cambridge and now works as a writer and editor, specialising in biography and memoir. He was also the editor of The Reluctant Tommy (Macmillan, 2010) a First World War memoir.
Nuala Calvi is a writer and journalist. She trained at London College of Printing and has written for The Times, The Independent, the BBC, CNN and numerous Time Out books.