Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Sheffield City Archives - Monthly Marvels

Sheffield Food History - Bassetts Sweets

George Bassett established Bassett’s the confectionery firm famous for Liquorice Allsorts and Jelly Babies in Sheffield in 1842.  Over 150 years on, the firm is still going strong and is now part of the Cadbury Trebor Bassett franchise. It is their biggest confectionary site in Europe and produces over 40,000 tonnes of sweets and crisps each year including the ever-popular Bassett’s liquorice and Trebor mints.

Before establishing his own sweet company, George Bassett had to serve his apprenticeship and learn the art of confectionery. Sheffield Archives holds George Bassett’s original Apprenticeship Indenture from 1832

(Sheffield Archives Ref:X159/1). It describes how Bassett was apprenticed to William Haslam, a confectioner of Chesterfield.  As the document shows, Haslam agreed to provide his new apprentice with ‘sufficient meat, drink, lodgings, and all other necessaries’.  In return, Bassett was expected to be a ‘faithful apprentice’ for seven years, agreeing ‘he shall not play cards of dice table’ and ‘he shall not haunt taverns or playhouses’.

Bassett lived from 1818 until 1886, he was a very successful businessman, and was also elected Lord Mayor of Sheffield in 1876. However, Bassett's most famous products, Jelly Babies and Liquorice Allsorts, were actually created after his death. 

Allsorts were created in 1899 as the result of a happy accident (or so the story says). Charlie Thompson was a salesman at the Bassett's company. He tripped while he was carrying a tray of separate liquorice and paste candies to show a potential customer. The candies became jumbled up, creating odd combinations. The customer was impressed and placed an order for the mixed-up candies - the first Liquorice Allsorts.

Discover More.

To find out more about the story of George Bassett’s there are various documents in our collection including:

·       George Bassett’s Apprenticeship Indenture, 1832

(Sheffield Archives X159/1)

·       George Bassett Account Book 1856-1859

(Sheffield Archives X159/1)

·       The History of Geo. Bassett & Co. Ltd (unpublished typescript, by D.G. Johnson, 1974)

(Local Studies Library 338.4 SSTQ)

·       Bassetts of England at Your Service – Geo. Bassett’s & Company, 1950

(Local Studies Library, PAMP 110 SQ)

·       The Bertie Bassett Logo [c.1980]

(Local Studies Library, MP 5832 M)

Or search our online catalogues for more material.

Digesting History.

This blog was inspired by recent Poet in The City digital event, Digesting History, a digital dinner table for a menu of poetry, conversation and film. Digesting History was created as part of Collections in Verse, a collaboration between Poet in the City, the British Library and Sheffield Libraries using poetry events and commissions to bring British Library exhibitions to life in four cities across the UK. The work in Sheffield was inspired by the British Library’s sold-out exhibition Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War. You can view the recording of this event online now. View Digesting History Recording.

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