All in their hands: Walters’ Palm Toffee

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 due to its banana flavouring.

walters_Palm_Toffee_tin,_pic1

Nathan B Walters was naturalised as a British subject in 1899.

Production was relocated to a 1.5 acre site at Westfields Road, Acton in 1926. A former aircraft factory, it was one of the largest toffee manufacturing sites in the United Kingdom.

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 advertised as produced from pure cane sugar and milk. The basis of its success appears to be that it 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 a colossal fire in 1935. The blaze could be seen 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.

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 was acquired by J & P Holland of Southport, the largest toffee manufacturers in the world, for £385,000 in 1960.

J A & P Holland was acquired by Cavenham in 1965. Cavenham closed the Acton factory shortly afterwards.

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8 thoughts on “All in their hands: Walters’ Palm Toffee”

  1. 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🙂☘

    1. 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

      1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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