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.