Jam maker Louisa’s efforts brought sweet smell of success to Shoreham

The orange peel being cooked in huge pans, while the flesh is being similarly treated elsewhere. In order to preserve the essential oil of the peel - that's where marmalade gets its piquant tang - the peel is cooked in large pieces and shredded later
The orange peel being cooked in huge pans, while the flesh is being similarly treated elsewhere. In order to preserve the essential oil of the peel - that's where marmalade gets its piquant tang - the peel is cooked in large pieces and shredded later

SWEET smells used to fill Dolphin Road in Shoreham, when Cook’s jam factory was in business.

The firm, L. Cook and Co Ltd, manufactured jams and chutneys from its small factory, and much of the fruit used was grown on the south side of Middle Road.

Production ceased in the early 1950s, but a feature from the March 5, 1938, edition of the Worthing Herald gives a wonderful insight into the work there.

Writing as part of a Behind the Scenes series, reporter G. Clarke wrote: “Marmalade is a confection designed to spur an appetite – to induce the Englishman to eat a little more after a rasher or two of bacon and a fried egg.

“You realise that forcibly when you go behind the scenes at a jam factory during the marmalade season, which is at its height now.

“Your appetite, perhaps stirring sluggishly at the exotic scent of the chests (half-chests is the real name) of oranges from Seville with still a dark green leaf here and there, will (metaphorically speaking) open one eye and shake its head when you go into the boiling room where the scent now hangs in heavy, steamy clouds.

“And when you finally see the liquid poured into a jar, it is wide-awake and keen.

“A man who has worked in a jam factory will tell you that at marmalade time, he will feel hungry long before his meal-times.

“It is interesting to visualise when you go round the jam factory of Mssrs L. Cook & Co Ltd at Shoreham, where, in the season they convert half a million oranges into marmalade, that a young married woman, Louisa Cook, founded the business by making jam at the back of her fruit shop in Queen’s Road Brighton.

“Her sons started a fruit garden and things prospered so fast that Louisa Cook lived to see the extensive works open in Shoreham.

“Her grandson, Mr L.M. Cook, is manager there now.

“The process of marmalade making is quite simple. The oranges are peeled, the peel is boiled and chipped, the orange boiled and pips extracted, and then the two are boiled together with liquid sugar.

“An intriguing fact is that the oranges are always boiled with their own peel.

“Then the golden liquid is cooled and bottled. Everything is on the move in the bottling room – bottles career here and there until they are filled and capped.

“Up they go in a lift to the store room, into boxes and then for an apparently perilous run on a gravity conveyor.

“Their fingers moving like lightning, girls cover them, tie the covers on with string and neatly trim them at the rate of four a minute.

“Those fragrant oranges, gathered from groves in Spain, seem to exhale as they are unpacked from the chests a breath of that sunny country. It is a most un-English scent, yet an hour or two later the oranges will become an essential and characteristic part of the Englishman’s breakfast table. As the roll is to the Frenchman, so is marmalade to the Englishman.

“Strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, apricots and many other kinds of fruit are turned into jam in season and the process is very much the same as with marmalade.”