Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

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Oct 2018

Tue 09 Oct 2018
Doreen Jolly - Sir Henry Tate.

Doreen started her story with an introduction to the Chorley Unitarian Chapel, the second oldest Church in Chorley opened in 1725. The Father of Henry Tate (1819-1899) was Rev William Tate (1773-1836) who was born in Newcastle upon Tyne. He was Wesleyan Methodist and decided to become a minister. He worked in Hebden bridge and married Agnes Booth in 1797. William could write but Agnes couldn’t. Chorley Unitarian people had heard about William Tate and approached William to come to Chorley but William said “I do not see the finger of providence pointing in the direction of Chorley”. The wealthy Crompton family funded the Chapel and asked William if he could suggest a figure of money that may point the finger of providence towards Chorley maybe we could come to some agreement. A figure was agreed and William and Agnes move to Chorley from being Minister at Dukinfield in 1799. They lived on Terrace Mount opposite the Chorley Parish Church of St Laurence. In June 1799 they had first of 12 children. 8 survived.


They soon had to move as Park Road was being widened so they took up residence in Water Street at no12 where the Council Car Park is now. They were only there 2 or 3 years. The Cromptons paid for the building of the current Ministers House for the Tates when Henry was about 5years old. William was also a teacher and educated Henry with other children. When Henry was 13 he moved to an apprenticeship with his older brother Caleb in Liverpool. After a 7 years an apprentice he soon got his first shop and married Jane Wignall and had 10 children, 1 died. His business expanded to 6 shops. He decided to start buying in bulk to get better prices and increase profits. He decided to go into sugar refining and also decided to try and be a City Councillor and was successful for the Lime Street area. He only stood one term as he wasn’t happy with meetings etc. He went into partnership with John Wright, a sugar refiner of Manesty Lane in Liverpool in 1859.

Sir Henry Tate

Where henry Tate was born

Water Street, Chorley, Henry's 2nd home

Henry's last home in Chorley

Chorley Unitarian Chapel and
grave of Rev William Tate

Henry Tate sold his grocery business in 1861 to concentrate on the sugar business. He built his own sugar refinery at Earle Street in 1862. When Wright died Henry bought out his share of the business and brought in two of his sons, Alfred and Edwin and re-named the business Henry Tate & Sons. At the time sugar refining was big business with 74 refineries in the UK but also there was a sugar tax which was soon dropped. The consumption of sugar quadruples. Henry expanded by building a new refinery on Love Lane Liverpool. He started by using the Greenock sugar refining machinery. He soon changed to a more efficient method introduced in France by Bovin and Loiseau. He bought the rights.
In 1874–5 he bought a derelict shipyard on the Thames at Silvertown. It was to be the site of his largest refinery, which began operating in 1878 under the control of his son, Edwin. Tate bought the British rights to Eugen Langen’s sugar cube manufacturing process in 1875. Previously sugar had been sold in large cones and servings had to be broken off with a hammer and was inefficient. Pre-packaged “Tate’s Cube Sugar” was soon a great success.

Grave slab of Rev William Tate

Rev William Tate

Plaque to Sir Henry Tate which is wrong about Tate & Lyle

Abram Lyle (1820–1891) is noted for founding the sugar refiners Abram Lyle & Sons and had a similar career path to Henry Tate and he also set up a sugar refinery in London. Lyle however was more famous for manufacturing Lyles Golden Syrup.

An unwritten agreement was that Henry Tate would produce sugar cubes and Abram Lyle would produce syrup.
In 1921, after Tate's death, Henry Tate & Sons merged with Abram Lyle & Sons to form Tate & Lyle.

Henry built an Institute near his refinery for his workers but doesn’t mix with his staff.
1883 cheaper sugar from sugar beet comes in from Europe.

Abram Lyle (1820 - 1891)

Henry and his wife Jane lived at Park Hill Mansions, Streatham but hadn’t been there long when Jane died. Within 18months Henry had re-married. His new wife was Amy Hislop 30 years his junior. Henry wanted to make museums, libraries, scholarships etc available to all. He paid for libraries to be built at Brixton, Streatham and South Lambert and a large library at Liverpool University. In 1896 retired from the business completely and leaves running in the hands of his sons. In 1899 he donated funds to help Herbert Parke build and equip Chorley Library. On Sunday afternoons he opened his private art gallery at Park Hill Mansions to the public.

Park Hill Mansions, Streatham

Mausoleum in West Norwood Cemeterye


Tate Britain, Millbank, London.

Tate Britain, Millbank, London.

He built the National Gallery of British Art where Millbank Prison used to be. It opened in 1897 and was called the National Gallery of British Art. Then from 1932 to 2000 it was known as the Tate Gallery and thereafter Tate Britain. He donated 65 paintings and 6 sculptures. Others donated as well. Henry said the gallery was a thank you to the nation for his prosperous business ventures over 60 years. In June 1898 he accepts a knighthood. On 5th Dec 1899 Henry died aged 80. His body lies in a mausoleum in West Norwood Cemetery.
The Blue Plaque to Henry Tate by the Unitrian Chapel says Henry Tate founded Tate & Lyle which is incorrect.
The Tate family donated money for the Chorley Unitarian Chapel’s organ and gravestone for William Tate. The Silvertown Refinery in London is still operating but sold 2010 to American Sugarholdings.

Tate Britain, Millbank, London.