Walters’ Palm Toffee was one of the largest toffee manufacturers in Britain.
Nathan Baraf Walters (1867 – 1957) was a Jewish Romanian from Botosani. He established a toffee manufacturing business at Poplar, London in 1887. Palm Toffee was the main product, so-called because it was made from palm butter.
Walters was naturalised as a British subject in 1899.
Production was relocated to a former aircraft factory at Westfields Road, Acton from 1926. Located on a 1.5 acre site, it was one of the largest toffee manufacturing plants in Britain.
Walters’ Palm Toffee Ltd had a share capital of £240,000 in 1928. That year, export sales to Europe and the British Empire began.
Palm Toffee was a high quality product available at a reasonable price. It appears to have been mainly produced for the working class market.
Around 800 people were employed at the Acton factory by 1935, including 200 night workers.
The factory was destroyed by fire in 1935. The colossal blaze could be witnessed from miles away. Major Arthur Baraf Walters (1892 – 1973), a director of the company and son of the founder, collapsed at the scene from shock and had to be hospitalised. The factory was rebuilt.
Nathan Walters died in 1957. He left the entirety of his estate to Jewish charities, and his four sons received nothing. The Walters family unsuccessfully contested the last will in the Probate Court.
The end of sugar rationing in 1954 saw a boom in confectionery sales. However by the end of the 1950s this boom was over, as an increasingly prosperous society began to favour chocolate. As a result of this financial pressure and stagnation, the industry began to consolidate.
Walters’ Palm Toffee became loss-making, and was acquired by J & P Holland of Southport, the largest toffee manufacturers in the world, in a friendly takeover which valued the business at £385,000 in 1960.
J A & P Holland closed the Acton factory in 1961. Production of Palm confectionery was transferred to Holland factories in Southport and Birmingham.
Palm Toffee remained in production as late as the 1970s.
Does anyone remember Palm Toffee? Did one of your relatives work at the Acton factory? Feel free to leave comments below.
10 thoughts on “All in their hands: Walters’ Palm Toffee”
I worked in pam toffee Acton from 1957 I don’t know how long for…. I have two ornate tins from there I keep my family papers in?☘
Hi Pauline, can you describe the factory? What were Walters like to work for?
This was my Great Grandfather’s firm. Some of this is news to me. Will the author please contact me.
dear mr cooke interetsting to see your coment as nb walters was
my g randfathers brother if you are interested please feel free to contact me
Dear Victor and Andy,
It’s great to see your comments. Nathan Walters was my grandfather. My father, Charles, was his youngest son and also worked for the company. I was born in 1964, a few years after Nathan died. My half-brother, Michael B Walters, is still alive and well and in his 90s. I’ve gathered a few insights about the business from him over the years. I would love to correspond with you. I live in Ottawa now but am regularly back in the UK.
The famous geographer Brian Berry offers some thoughts about his dad’s work at Walters’ Palm Toffee in the book Geographical Voices. (He’s not very complimentary about them!) You can read it on Google Books.
I would love to be in touch with Victor Bloom and also William Walters. My maternal grandparents were born in Botsani and died before I was born in l936. After the war we used to visit Auntie Lilly who I think was married to an Arthur Walters. She lived in a big house in Acton and we always went home with a big bag of broken pieces of Palm Toffee. As a child I was always thrilled to see trays of Palm Toffee in sweet shops and loved the little hammer you could use. My grandfather Harris Finklestein was I think working at the factory when he was introduced to, and married, my grandmother who was nee Jessie Greif. It was an arranged and unhappy marraige.
I would love to get in touch with you about toffee, Botasani, etc. You can email me at william.walters [at ] carleton.ca
Both my parents worked there pre-war. My Father went back after the war and worked there until 1960. Mr Smith was the works manager and Michael Walters was the owner at that time. My father was a sugar boiler and his name was Cliff Hawkins, he is now, of course, deceased.
I have an old Walters toffee tin with a blonde lady wearing a red strapless swimsuit with a large straw hat in her hand.. does anyone know what year this tin was produced?.. I’ve searched the net but unable to find anything like it.
Would love to see a photo of this