Six of the best old-fashioned sweet shops from Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 17:18 15 August 2013 | UPDATED: 17:44 12 January 2016
Tony Greenway harks back to the good old days of sticky strawberry sherbets and acid drops.
Because I was born in the late 1700s, I remember when sweets were sold in old-fashioned sweet shops. In fact, these establishments were SO old-fashioned they were called ‘ye olde-fashioned sweet shoppes’ and at least one of them kept their money in a drawer instead of a till.
All of them had explosively coloured, teeth-rotting delights in hundreds of jars stacked high on shelves around the room: sour apples, aniseed twists, strawberry and lemon bon-bons, coconut mushrooms, white mice, acid drops, pineapple cubes, cola cubes, bulls eyes, midget gems, liquorice allsorts, lemonade powder, humbugs, wine gums, dolly mixtures, jelly babies, flying saucers. (Do shout out if your favourite isn’t listed).
I’d always buy a quarter of strawberry sherbets which the ancient shop-owner would tip into a little paper bag. He’d then hold the bag by the two top corners and twirl it over and over to twist it closed. After a couple of days (if they lasted that long) the strawberry sherbets would stick to each other and the paper, so you got a mouthful of strawberry sherbet and a mouthful of bag.
These days, my children mainly get their sweets from newsagents or the supermarket. There aren’t many (or any) jars or bags and there is definitely no twirling. It just isn’t the same, but you can’t tell them that — although I try. When they ask: ‘Dad, would you like a Starburst?’ I reply: ‘Yes please, but I remember when they were called Opal Fruits.’ To which they invariably say: ‘We know. You used to eat them on the way back from the Workhouse. That’s the 876th time you’ve told us.’
Anyway, we took the kids to Haworth a few weeks ago and visited the famous Mrs Beighton’s, which is a treasure trove of sweet nostalgia. ‘This place is a bit like my olde tucke shoppe at school,’ I told them. And do you know what? I think they finally understood the magic of it all.
If you’re after an olde worlde sweet experience, I’d stock up at the following places, if I were you. Welcome to traditional sweet heaven…
Dalesman Café & Sweet Emporium, Gargrave
This is the only specialist sweet shop on the Pennine Way, and Linda Hartnell, who runs it, says that she deals in ‘Nostalgia with a capital N, underlined three times.’ The Emporium features more than 150 kinds of sweets in glass jars, and vintage tins are stacked four-high on the shelves above her. You can now order ‘sweetzas’ — like pizzas, but made out of sweets on a 12-inch board and served in a pizza box — (by mail order or for collection) for openings, corporate events, get well soon or any other special occasion that takes your fancy. The cafe also serves vintage afternoon teas, too, by appointment, plus there’s a vintage garden room.
Mrs Beighton’s, Haworth
Located at the top of Haworth’s historic Main Street, Mrs Beighton’s traditional sweet shop isn’t especially big, but it is especially wonderful. If you can’t find anything in here that you like, stop looking, because it probably doesn’t exist.
Ella, my 12-year-old, LOVES Mennells, which can be found opposite Malton library — and there’s no better recommendation than that. Sweets are served the old-fashioned way from a jar and there are so many jars it takes ages to choose. Or, at least, it takes Ella ages to choose. But that’s half the fun.
Oldest Sweet Shop in England, Pateley Bridge
This one first opened its doors in 1827 — I remember it well — and it stocks every sweet known to man, from liquorice and aniseed to sherbet sweets, from pick ‘n’ mix lollipops to fudge and toffee, plus loads more.
The Lollipop Tree, Huddersfield
Sweets, chocolates, gifts - everything from acid drops to Yorkshire mixture. In the spring and summer The Lollipop Tree also sells locally produced dairy ice cream.
The Sugar Mouse, Easingwold
Former journalist Angela Spencer had always dreamed of owning her own sweetshop. In 2010 that dream came true when she opened The Sugar Mouse. There are more than 200 jars on display here in magical surroundings and much of the sweet-stuff is produced in Yorkshire (including cakepops and miniature cupcakes made by Angela). The Sugar Mouse sells artisan chocolates and fudge, frozen yoghurt, 50-plus favours of milkshake and smoothies, too.