4) THE SUGAR HOUSE
Until the 12th century, people in Britain generally relied on honey as a sweetener because cane sugar was so expensive, as it had to be imported. Although two sugar refineries were in operation by 1544, the majority of cane sugar came from Amsterdam and Hamburg.
Sugar House Island’s sugar refinery is first recorded in 1843. Elizabeth Reynolds is named as the owner of a sugar ‘distillery’ (comprising a meadow, gardens and buildings), and its location can be seen in the curve where Sugar House Lane meets High Street, Stratford.
The Victorian building known as ‘The Sugar House’ was thought to have been the refinery but, when the building was cleaned, it revealed a date which disproves this.
London’s sugar refining industry moved east over time, and Tate & Lyle’s Thames Refinery (near Silvertown) is one of the largest in the world today.
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