Blists Hill Victorian Town is the star location for the final episode of a TV food history programme set to air on BBC Two on 2 August.
‘The Sweet Makers: A Victorian Treat’ is the third episode in the series that has explored the history of sweet-making from Tudor times, into the Georgian era and finally onto the age of Victoria and the First World War. Four modern confectioners use original recipes to fill their recreated Victorian sweet shop and discover how the quest to satisfy our national sweet tooth transformed Britain.
Guided by food historian Dr Annie Gray and social historian Emma Dabiri the 21st century sweet makers came to Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge, to experience first-hand the life of confectioners in late 19th and early 20th century England – a time when cheap sugar meant sweets for every class in society for the first time. Children finally get their hands on chocolate, and the modern brands that we still know and love today are dreamt up.
Running their own workshop, every treat the team makes across four days is used to stock their sweet shop, from jars of beautiful boiled sweets to their own version of fruit pastilles and an enormous Easter Egg.
The confectioners are chocolatier Paul A Young, wedding cake designer Cynthia Stroud, sweet consultant Andy Baxendale and chocolatier Diana Short – and they’re using period equipment, original recipes and authentic ingredients.
They’ll discover the alarming adulterants and toxic colours used in sweets, the Quaker families who dominated confectionery, and the poignant letters sent back from the First World War trenches.
Viewers may recognise a selection of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums on the screen. As well as using the Victorian Town’s Confectioners as the setting for the programme’s Sweet Shop, the show will also feature a get-together at the Shelton Tollhouse, one of the period exhibits at Blists Hill Victorian Town and the Victorian ceramic workshop at Coalport China Museum is transformed into a sweet-making heaven.
Richard Aldred, Marketing Officer at Ironbridge Gorge Museum explains “We welcome a lot of different film crews at the Ironbridge Gorge Museums. We always have to think creatively when offering venues in order to meet the Directors brief. On this occasion, the director was looking for a Victorian factory workshop and Coalport China Museum was the obvious candidate, as it is based in a typical Victorian factory building. We can’t wait to see the end result on the screen.”
‘The Sweet Makers: A Victorian Treat’ is scheduled to air on Wednesday 2 August on BBC Two at 8pm. The previous two episodes are available to catch up on BBC iPlayer.