A delightful assortment of classic confectionery has bestowed a timeless touch of sweetness upon a new exhibition in Leeds.
Vintage sweet jars from Yorkshire, along with chocolates and toffee tins, are gracing the display at Abbey House Museum’s latest exhibit, “The Power of Persuasion.” This exhibition delves into the tales and strategies behind some of history’s most iconic brands.
Diligent curators and dedicated volunteers have painstakingly recreated a vintage sweet shop, featuring shelves adorned with historic treats enjoyed by both children and adults over the past 120 years.
Among the captivating objects on display are tins of traditional Pontefract liquorice, crafted by Hillaby’s during the 1930s. John Hillaby, the founder, established the colossal steam-powered Lion Liquorice Works in 1850. The establishment, which cultivated its own crops, eventually became the world’s largest liquorice producer. Notably, they produced the liquorice boot famously consumed by the legendary silent film star Charlie Chaplin in the film “Gold Rush.”
The exhibit also showcases a series of toffee tins from Henry Thorne & Co. Ltd of Leeds. Situated near the old West Yorkshire bus station on Edward Street, the company emerged as a prominent name in confectionery production. By the 1960s, it was reputedly churning out more than two million pieces a day from its expansive factory.
Other captivating items featured include historical packaging and advertising materials from Cadbury’s Ltd, a tin of Fox’s Glacier Mints from 1950, and a set of shop scales once utilized at Dawes and Sons on Hunslet Road, Leeds, around 1900, to measure out various types of sweets.
Kitty Ross, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of social history, said: “Sweets and confectionery are among the most enduring and recognisable brands in the world, tapping into a unique sense of nostalgia and the happy memories we have of them as children.
“Most people can fondly recall their favourite childhood sweet or treat as well as the places and people they associate with them, and that’s always been a key part of the products which have stood the test of time.
“In many ways, those brands encapsulate the power of advertising and we can see in them examples of the ingenious tactics different companies have used to appeal to their customers over the decades.”
As well as sweets and confectionery The Power of Persuasion also features other objects which look back at hundreds of years of tried and trusted brands from across Yorkshire and beyond.
Examples include vintage signs which once adorned the streets of Leeds such as a giant pair of spectacles which once hung outside the famous Dyons jewellers and which were rescued from a skip when the shop was renovated.
Also on display is an eye-catching golden Tetley’s brewery sign and a huge wooden arm and hammer which once advertised a Victorian gold beater’s shop in Leeds.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Leeds has been the birthplace of some truly iconic brands which have helped put the city on the map nationally and around the world.
“It’s fascinating to explore how those brands and others have become part of our history and to see some of the many enthralling objects in our world-class collection.”
The Power of Persuasion is open now at Abbey House Museum on January 20, 2024.