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Walkers' Nonsuch Ltd, Toffee Manufacturers, Longton

  • The Confectionery Works in Lovatt Street were built in 1894 by the Horleston Brothers.

  • Edward Joseph Walker started selling confectionery in the late 1800's.

  • In 1907 Edward Walker had a sweet shop at 64 Stafford Street (now called The Strand).

  • Edward Walker started to make toffee in the back of his shop and in 1915 his son Edward Walker started to help with the business.

  • Walker's Nonsuch became a limited company in 1922. 

  • Walkers' acquired the Horleston business in 1947 and moved their business to the Lovatt Street Works.

  • In 1961 Walkers acquired Siddalls Blue Churn Confectionery. 


Horleston Bros. Ltd. built their Confectionery Works in Lovatt Street, Longton in 1894
Horleston Bros. Ltd. built their Confectionery Works in Lovatt Street, Longton in 1894

Horleston Brothers also had 'Stall 1' in the Borough Market, Market Lane, Longton


Lovatt Street 
(140, High Street) 

—Here is Back Lovatt Street—

37-39 Crosby, Georgina, butcher 

—Here is Normacot Road—
—Here is Malt Lane

Horleston, Bros., Ltd., Mount Pleasant Confectionery Works, wholesale confectioners.

Carter William, Leopard Inn (B.H.) 

—Here is Normacot Road—


Lovatt Street

from: 1907 Staffordshire Sentinel 'Business Reference Guide to The Potteries, Newcastle & District'



Walkers frontage is in Calverley Street
Walkers frontage is in Calverley Street
originally named Lovatt Street, renamed to Calverley Street in the mid 1950's


Walkers Nonsuch Ltd, Registered Office
Walkers Nonsuch Ltd, Registered Office


Walkers' Nonsuch Ltd, Toffee Manufacturers, Longton
Walkers' Nonsuch Ltd, Toffee Manufacturers, Longton

photos: June 2011


the original entrance gate with the datestone of 1894
the original entrance gate with the date stone of 1894



Walkers' toffee factory, Longton
Walkers' toffee factory, Longton 

Bing Maps



Walker's Nonsuch Toffee with the castle logo
Walker's Nonsuch Toffee with the castle logo

Walkers' Nonsuch takes its name from Henry VIII's legendary 'Nonsuch' palace which was described 
as the 'palace of all palaces' for its exquisite splendour there was 'nonsuch' like it. 
In the same was Edward Walkers' reputation was as the creator of the most delicious toffee 'nonsuch' like any other.


Walker's warehouse in nearby Locketts Lane
Walkers' warehouse in nearby Locketts Lane


Tin of Walker's Grade 1 Nonsuch toffee
Tin of Walker's Grade 1 Nonsuch toffee 
"Delicious to the Palate"
"Strengthening to the Body"


Walkers' Traditional Slab Toffee - complete with a hammer to break the slab
Walkers' Traditional Slab Toffee - complete with a hammer to break the slab
"Made with Care for you to Share"


Limited edition Nonsuch delivery vans
Limited edition Nonsuch delivery vans 


Limited edition Nonsuch delivery vans
Limited edition Nonsuch delivery vans 



Sweet odour in streets was sign of temptation

"And 50 years ago there was a good chance that the tasty titbits were made by one of North Staffordshire's own toffee and sweet manufacturers like Walkers' Nonsuch or Old Betty Plant's.

Besides these household names, there was quite a list of other local sweet makers – Winton's and O J Moss's in Stoke, Leese's and Siddall's at Fenton, Evans's and Edge's at Newcastle, and Garbutt's at Normacot, to mention only a few.

"Siddall's made sweets called Blue Churn," says pensioner Jane Harrison. "I also remember sherbet dip, which made your fingers and your tongue yellow, and aniseed balls which seemed to last forever. "I particularly liked what we used to call gobstoppers. They were very large and changed colour in your mouth, so you took them out and showed them to your friends."

Although Old Betty Plant's disappeared in the 1970s, the Hanley firm is remembered with affection for products like dairy mints, sugared almonds and herbal cough drops.

And there really was an old Betty Plant, according to Hilda Gratton, who worked at the firm for almost 40 years. "The name wasn't made up, as many people think, " she says. "The business was started in Stoke by Albert Plant, who named it after his mother Elizabeth, or Old Betty, who made her own toffee.

"Later, the Nadin family from Stockton Brook took over the business and opened the factory in Morley Street, Hanley, around 1914."

Like Betty Plant's, Walkers' Nonsuch also started as a one-man business at Longton and is still flourishing as a family concern today after more than 100 years. More than that, the firm can include among its satisfied customers the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who praised "your delicious toffee" in a letter of thanks sent on her behalf in 1994.

But why Nonsuch? As marketing director Emma Walker explains, the name is taken from Henry VIII's Nonsuch Palace, for which the claim was made there was "nonsuch like it".

"My great-grandfather Edward Joseph Walker began with a sweet shop in Longton with his sister Florence," says Emma. "He sold toffee which he made himself to his own recipe and demand grew so rapidly that he had to open a small factory."

The founder enrolled his son Edward Victor into the business and in 1947 the firm moved to premises in Calverley Street, Longton, where boiled sweets had been made from 1894 by the previous owners, Horleston Brothers.

Edward Victor's son Ian joined him in 1955 after working at the factory during school holidays as "chief bottle washer".

"You have to remember that in those days our sweets were delivered to shops in glass jars, not plastic," he says. "We brought back all the empty returns and I washed them."

Ian, the firm's long-time managing director, recalls that when he started they made threepenny bars of toffee which were still hand-wrapped in wax paper. However, Walkers were already breaking into the export market. An early sale overseas went to Yemen packed in tea chests, followed by more exports to the Caribbean.

John Ekin, who retired this year after 49 years with the company, remembers stencilling the name Barbados on cartons due to be shipped to the West Indies.

During his long career John spent some time in the works at a time when materials were put into machinery by hand – a far cry from today's automated processes.

"For hard-boiled sweets you boiled water, sugar and glucose in copper pans up to a temperature of 410 degrees Fahrenheit," he explains.

"You poured the mixture onto chilled plates and stirred till it was like plasticine, added the flavour, rolled it until it was like a piece of rope and then put it on another roller to reduce its size ready for the cut and wrap machine.

"I would say our tray toffee was the main seller, along with hard boiled sweets with fruit or mint flavour. But whatever the type of product, our prime concern was always quality. We never used anything which was synthetic or second-rate."

Hilda Gratton, now 91, also learned how to make boiled sweets after starting work at Old Betty Plant's factory in Hanley in 1931.

"We produced tons of boiled sweets every week in about 100 different varieties," she says. "When we were boiling there was a sweet smell in the streets all round the works.

"I'd say we made more of the herbal cough sweets than anything else.

"There was always the temptation to eat sweets ourselves, although the management tried to stop us. William Nadin had the best job as chief taster of his own sweets."

Hilda recalls that the boiling shop could be a dangerous place and remembers one girl being scalped by a cutting machine when her long hair got caught in the belt.

Old Betty Plant's remained in operation until 1970 when the family-run company was taken over by a confectionery group and the Hanley factory was closed down.

Winton's toffee factory operated in Leek Road, Stoke, according to Blurton pensioner Pat Bromley, who says her mother worked there wrapping sweets in the 1920s.

"She described the factory as a dilapidated dump with rain falling inside," says Pat. "The workers were allowed to eat the sweets, but they soon got sick of them"

The factory was demolished before the Second World War and National Coal Board offices built on the site.

Specialist collector and Sentinel contributor Chris Morris has childhood memories of visiting shops in Middleport and scouring the shelves for his favourite sweets.

"Without fail, I came across an Old Betty Plant's jar," he says. "Its label showed a lady wearing a long crinoline dress, a poke bonnet and wire-rimmed spectacles.

"I also had a liking for trays of Walkers' Nonsuch toffee broken into pieces.

"It was lovely toffee which made your mouth water, but there was one snag.

"If you left it in your pocket too long, the paper bag stuck to the toffee and you had a hard time trying to separate them." "

John Abberley
Sentinel Newspaper
August 2008




contents: 2010 photos


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Normacot Road, Longton 

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