Nuala Calvi co-authored The Sugar Girls and has been a journalist for eight years with a strong interest in community history pieces.
The Sugar Girls - Gladys's Story: Tales of Hardship, Love and Happiness in Tate & Lyle's East Endby Duncan Barrett
This is Gladys’s story, one of four stories from The Sugar Girls. During the Blitz and the years of rationing, the Sugar Girls kept Britain sweet. The work was back-breakingly hard, but the Tate & Lyle factory was more than just a workplace - it was a community, a calling, a place of love and support and an uproarious, tribal part of East London.
‘Gladys changed into her new uniform. The dungarees hung loosely on her boyish frame, the crotch resting somewhere down by her knees and the backside looking like a crumpled sack waiting to be filled with potatoes. The short-sleeved blouse seemed to have been designed with a buxom matron in mind, and one with arms as thick as her legs, not a skinny, flat-chested 14-year-old. What kind of monstrous creatures worked in this Blue Room?’
In the years leading up to and after the Second World War thousands of women left school at fourteen to work in the bustling factories of London’s East End. Despite long hours, hard and often hazardous work, factory life afforded exciting opportunities for independence, friendship and romance. Of all the factories that lined the docks, it was at Tate and Lyle’s where you could earn the most generous wages and enjoy the best social life, and it was here where The Sugar Girls worked.
This is an evocative, moving story of hunger, hardship and happiness, providing a moving insight into a lost way of life, as well as a timeless testament to the experience of being young and female.
Includes Gladys’s own personal photographs of life as a sugar girl.
Duncan Barrett studied English at Cambridge and now works as writer and editor, specialising in biography and memoir. He most recently edited The Reluctant Tommy (Macmillan, 2010) a First World War memoir. Nuala Calvi also studied English and has been a journalist for eight years with a strong interest in community history pieces. She took part in the Streatham Stories project to document the lives and memories of people in South London. They live in South London.
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Not what I was expecting - it was okay - read more like a girls diary - somewhat bored with it.
Fascinating. Highly recommended!! The lives of 4 girls who worked for a sugar company in England. The history of the time - just after World War Two - was riveting. Each girl was unique and each life interesting. Great non- fiction. Other excellent fiction and non- fiction writers during World War One and Two and after are - William Jarvis, Judith Lennox, Margaret Mayhew, Melynda Jarrett, Vera F. Cracknell Long, Eileen Townsend, Pamela Winfield, Soraya Lane, Anne DeCourcy, and Iris Jones Simantel. I enjoyed GI Brides also written by Duncan Barrett. A++++++