Bringing the authentic source of sweet satisfaction to your family through generations
We have been refining cane sugar in east London since 1878, and our roots run deep. We want our business and people to continue to thrive – from the raw sugarcane through our whole supply chain – and aim to become the most ethical and sustainable cane sugar refiner in the world.
Henry Tate’s Thames Refinery opened its doors in 1878, by the docks in East London, well placed for the supply of raw sugar.
Work at the factory was all done by gas lighting, supplied by steam boilers. The electric motor did not appear in Thames until 1905.
The refinery in 1894 employed around 2,000 people and occupied 36,000 sqm.
A Thames refinery employee, Hamilton, was known for being always cheerful.
Sugar was moved within the refinery by horse-drawn carts up until 1954.
Looked upon as a good employer, Thames attracted several generations of families. Pictured here, is Miss Morgan.
The refinery celebrating the nearby King George V dock opening in July 1921. That same year, Tate and Lyle merged businesses.
Before the 1030s, sugar was weighed by the grocer for each customer. Tate & Lyle Sugars started printing their logo on paper packets. The creation of a recognizable brand was a major innovation.
The refinery stayed opened during the war, and hosted 123 workers and their families who lost their homes to bombing.
The delivery of a crane in March 1950 was part of a big transformation from bagged to bulk raw sugar, reducing man hours by 70%.
with the Equal Pay campaign, women were able to get time in lieu like the men.
By 1981, most of the factories around the docks had closed. Tate & Lyle Sugars was one of the few that remained.
A factory line of the caster sugar packing, which gradually became more machanised
An aerial view of the Thames factory, which remains the largest sugar refinery in Europe.
Twelve years ago, the refinery was honored by a visit from Her Majesty The Queen.
140 years on, in the same factory, we’re still as passionate about making great quality sugar.
We have maintained our historic image and unchanged taste with an ethical manufacturing process from the farm to store shelves.
Our sugar starts with farmers who grow sugarcane. Cane farmers can be smallholders, medium or large estate farmers; farms can be independently owned or owned by the sugar mills themselves. Sugarcane is increasingly harvested mechanically, although some of it is still harvested by hand. In both cases, the cane stalk is cut close to the ground and the leaves are removed. The harvested cane is then transported to the sugar mill.
The first stage of processing is the mill. Mills are located close to the farms so that the cane is fresh when it arrives. This maximises the content and quality of the sugar that can be extracted from the cane. Milling involves squeezing the sweet juice from the sugarcane, and this is used to make sugar. The fibre that is left over from the milling process is called bagasse. Most cane mills use the bagasse as a fuel source to power the mill. Generally, the bagasse produced during the crop generates all the fuel needed for the sugar mill, with some to spare, so it is often used to provide green electricity for the local community as well.
A range of transport types including lorries, rail and barges transport the raw sugar from the mill to the port of export. Raw sugar is then loaded on to bulk ocean-going ships for its journey to Thames refinery in London. Around 20 vessels a year arrive at our jetty in London, carrying between 5,000 and 45,000 tonnes of raw sugar. The journey takes from 2 to 8 weeks depending on which supplying country the raw sugar is being shipped from.
Our Thames Refinery receives raw sugar from our ASR Group mills such as Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) as well as many third party mills. In the refining process, large quantities of raw sugar have impurities removed from them and are made into a wide range of brown and white sugars, as well as syrups and treacles. Products are packed and delivered to retail and food service customers as well as food and drink manufacturers.
At Tate & Lyle Sugars, we have been refining cane sugar on the banks of the Thames in East London since 1878. Since then, customer requirements have grown and we’ve developed our range of Tate&Lyle ® products tailored to the different needs of our customers. Take a look at our range and how you can use them!