Memories are all gold as Terry's story told

THE historic Clock Tower remains one of York's best known landmarks despite a question mark hanging over the future of the sprawling site for more than four years.

The Terry's factory on the outskirts of the city still remains a reminder of York's proud and long heritage in the chocolate-making industry even though production halted back in 2005.

Now a fascinating insight has been revealed into the past of the world famous chocolate brand with the first published history of Terry's, which was officially launched yesterday.

More than 50 former employees from directors to bakers who worked at the factory were interviewed for the book, The Story of Terry's, which has been written by the York-based author Van Wilson.

The book includes an account of how a dozen workers accompanied Sir Francis Terry to London for him to receive his knighthood in 1936 after their names were pulled out of a hat.

An interview with Peter Terry, who died in 2006, also relates how a company chemist's latest creation was not met with the reaction he hoped for when Sir Francis took one bite before throwing the box out of the window.

Tales of romance are also included – Tony and Audrey Lambert from York met at the factory and used to secretly pass notes to each other on chocolate wrappers on the production line.

Ms Wilson said: "It has been a privilege to be involved in this project and to get the chance to speak to so many interesting people about their time at Terry's. They talk of their work, their friendships, their love for the company and their sadness at its demise.

"Through their thoughts it becomes clear that Terry's was very much more than a workplace, it was a community and played a very important part in York's recent social history.

"This book will hopefully act as an important account of this as well as a fascinating insight into one of the country's biggest chocolate brands."

The book began as a series of interviews commissioned by York Castle Museum, which looks after a large proportion of the Terry's archive. The interviews were carried out by Ms Wilson and Mike Race, of the York Oral History Society.

The accounts by the former workers proved to be of such historical value that it was decided to turn them into a book, which was launched yesterday at the museum.

Members of the Terry family attended the launch including Anthony Terry, who was the last of the family line to work at the factory.

Mr Terry, 59, who worked in the company's marketing department between 1977 and 1979, travelled up from London for the launch.

The father-of-three, who still works as a marketing consultant, said: "When I worked at the factory the company was being taken over by Colgate Palmolive, and it was quite a turbulent time.

"But I have very fond memories of my time at Terry's, which seems to be a common theme running throughout the book. Everyone who worked there appears to have really enjoyed going into work, and it was a real family firm.

"It is obviously a shame that the factory is no longer operating, but the book gives a wonderful insight into its history."

Another of the book's interviewees, David Meek, 70, who worked as an electrician at the factory for 35 years up until 1990, was also at the launch.

Mr Meek, who still lives in York, was one of the many workers who had a strong family connection to the company - both his father, Harold, and his grandfather, Henry, were long-term employees who each clocked up 50 years of service.

He said: "It was a wonderful place to work, and if you kept your nose clean, you had a job pretty much for life."

A commemorative chocolate sponge cake was created using an original Terry's recipe by baker Fred Thomas, 58, from Acomb,who worked in the factory for four years in the 1970s.

Long history ended in 2005

Joseph Terry, who was born in Pocklington, came to York to serve as an apprentice apothecary before setting up a chemist in Walmgate.

His life took a different turn in 1823 when he married Harriet Atkinson, a relative of Robert Berry who had a small confectionery business.

By 1926, Terry's moved to a purpose-built factory off Bishopthorpe Road where some of the most enduring brands were created .

Terry's was taken over in 1993 by the multi-national food corporation, Kraft, which closed the York factory on September 30, 2005, moving production abroad.