Does anyone else like the idea of a tankerload of molten chocolate as much as I do?  This photo shows staff members at Mackintosh’s Norwich factory in 1961 filling up a tanker with molten Caramac, ready to be transported to a biscuit factory.  Caramac was an entirely new idea when it was invented by Mackintosh’s in 1959.  It was “neither chocolate nor toffee but has the best qualities of both, the smoothness of chocolate, with the nicest taste of toffee”. 

To find out more about the history of Caramac and reminisce about your childhood favourite sweets, come and see the Toffee Town exhibition at Halifax Visitors Centre and Art Gallery, from 28 July 2012.


Delicious Beyond Description

By 1895 the demand for Mackintosh’s toffee was so great that production had outgrown their original pastry shop premises.  John Mackintosh had by this time taken warehouse space in Bond Street, Halifax, and opened the Mackintosh Steam Confectionery Works.  In 1898 they opened another factory on Queens Road.  This fantastic stained glass window came from the factory at Albion Mills and probably dates to the 1920s.

John Mackintosh named himself the “Toffee King”.  The company advertised heavily from the very beginning and emphasised the high quality of their toffee using the brand name Toffee de Luxe. The little girl in the window can be seen holding a tin of Toffee de Luxe, which was exported all over the world, and advertised as “the foundation stone of public favour”.

To learn more about the history of Mackintosh’s toffee visit Halifax Visitors Centre and Art Gallery from 28 July 2012, when the exhibition Toffee Town will be celebrating the history of confectionery manufacture in Halifax.

Toffee Town


Did you know that Halifax is the home of modern toffee?  Until the end of the nineteenth century it did not exist as we know it today.  In 1890 Violet Mackintosh blended together the flavour of English toffee with the texture of American caramel to produce Mackintosh’s celebrated toffee, the world’s first modern toffee.  The Mackintosh’s sold it in their pastry shop at 53 King Cross Street, Halifax.

Chewable toffee proved so popular that by 1922 more than 20 confectionery companies were operating in the Halifax area, including Mattocks, Evercreme, Riley Brothers and Turner and Wainwright’s.  We think that this jigsaw was produced to publicise Turner and Wainwright’s, or “Turnwright’s”, in about 1912.  The back of the jigsaw has a lovely drawing of their factory, or “Steam Confectionery Works”, at Brookfoot Mills in Brighouse.

To find out more about the history of confectionery manufacture in Calderdale, visit the exhibition at Halifax Visitors Centre and Art Gallery from 28 July 2012.

Jack Frost

detail of signature quilt


This image is taken from an embroidered quilt currently on display at Bankfield Museum and seems very appropriate to the current weather conditions!

The quilt was made by members of the Sunday School from Bethel Methodist New Connexion Chapel in Brighouse, in 1898.   This style of quilt is known as a “signature quilt”.  They could be used as a way of rising money for charity, with each person sponsoring a patchwork piece, or as a remembrance for a group of friends.  The text stitched into the centre of the quilt suggests that this example was made as part of the Sunday School’s Christmas celebrations.

detail of central panel


Each of the triangular pattern pieces was written or drawn on in ink, then embroidered using red yarn.  You can see many fantastic satirical drawings and jokes embroidered on the quilt, including caricatures and cartoons.

fashions for 1898 as featured on the quilt

Lucy Locket lost her pocket…

…Kitty Fisher found it

Not a penny was there in it

Only ribbon round it

Pockets  for women were once separate items worn tied around the waist.  They could be worn singly or in pairs, and contained useful things which you might need during the day, such as your pincushion, thimble, scissors, money, keys, scent bottle or comb.  Today many women use their handbags to carry essential items like this around with them, although the contents might have changed slightly!

These pockets are made of linen, embroidered with woollen yarn.  The motif of flowers growing out of pots was very popular in British embroidery from 1750 to 1800.  Satin stitch, cross stitch and chain stitch were used to create these colourful patterns.

The making of pockets was used to teach needlework skills.  We don’t know who made these pockets, but they certainly made the most out of the materials they had, as you can see the selvedge of the fabric along the bottom edge.  Pocket making could also teach girls how to be good and frugal housewives.

Unfortunately we don’t have very much information about who these pockets might originally have belonged to.  The right pocket is embroidered with the initials “MR”, and the left with “JR”.  The design of the left pocket also features a heart.  This suggests that JR was someone who MR cared about a great deal.  They might have been their husband, sister or friend.  Women sometimes gave pockets to female friends as gifts.  This pair could have been made to commemorate a marriage or a friendship.

In the 18th century pockets were usually worn beneath petticoats, which had slits in the side seams so the wearer could put their hand through.  “Pickpockets” made a living from stealing pockets.

During the 1790s fashions changed in favour of skirts which were too narrow to wear a pocket beneath.  Many women started to use decorative bags called reticules, although lots stuck to separate pockets, and they continued to be worn throughout the nineteenth century.