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The Industries of Scotland
Manufacture of Confectionery


THE luxurious mode of living which has become fashionable with the advance of civilisation has given rise in modern times to many branches of trade which were unknown to the ancients. An interesting example is the manufacture of confectionery, which has assumed dimensions entitling it to mention in any record of industrial progress. Conserves, or fruits preserved in sugar, are mentioned in the works of Shakspeare and other writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Queen in "Cymbeline," addressing Cornelius, says

"Hast thou not learned me to preserve? Yes, so
That our great King cloth woo me oft
For my confections."

Again, in the bedchamber scene in "Taming the Shrew," conserves are among the delicacies offered to Sly in order to delude him into the belief that he is of noble estate. It is evident from these and other passages which might be quoted, that the making of confections was at one time an art practised by ladies of the highest rank, and that among the wealthiest classes conserves and the like were esteemed as the most delicious of luxuries. The consumption of sweetmeats has increased enormously of recent years, and the great advance that has taken place in the quantity of sugar used by the more enlightened nations, as shown in a previous article, is attributable in no small degree to the growing favour which is being extended to the productions of the confectioner, and to the increasing fondness for home-made "sweets." Paris is the chief seat of the manufacture of saccharine delicacies; and to the ingenuity which the French display in devising all manner of dainties is owing many of the choicest varieties of confectionery. Though thus distinguished, however, Paris has by no means a monopoly of the trade. In all the more important towns of Britain sugar goods are produced.

There are several extensive manufactories of confectionery and preserved fruits in Scotland, and some of these have a world-wide reputation. Among the best known firms are the following:—In Edinburgh—Mr Alexander Ferguson, and Messrs R. Shiels & Son. In Glasgow—Messrs J. Buchanan Brothers, Messrs John Gray & Co., and Messrs Robert Wotherspoon & Co. In Dundee—Messrs James Keiller & Son, and Messrs John Low & Son. It is difficult to form an estimate of the extent of the confectionery trade in Scotland, but, judging from the returns of the principal manufacturers, the value of the goods produced cannot be less than L.1,000,000 per annum. The quantity of sugar used is estimated at from 12,000 to 14,000 tons. Upwards of 2000 persons are employed in the trade.

The most extensive confectionery establishment in Britain is that of Messrs James Keiller & Son, Dundee. The firm have a specialty in marmalade—a conserve which they have been chiefly instrumental in bringing into general use. The history of the firm is brief, but it records a brilliant success. About the beginning of the present century, Dundee, which stands in the neighbourhood of a famous fruit-producing district, was pretty extensively engaged in the manufacture of "preserves," and the late Mr James Keller was among those engaged in the trade. By way of increasing the variety of his productions, Mr Keller 'began to make marmalade, and was the first in the country to produce it as an article of commerce. For some years the demand was limited to the town and district; but in course of time the new conserve worked its way into the more important towns of Scotland, and subsequently crossed the Border into England. Between thirty and forty years ago, one of the principal grocery firms in London gave marmalade a trial, and soon secured a steadily increasing demand for it. A new market was thus opened up; and from being a subordinate part of Mr Keiller's business, the manufacture of marmalade took precedence. The little factory set up in an old house near the High Street of Dundee became too small for the increasing business, and more commodious premises were acquired. Successive extensions have been made; and now the establishment, which occupies several blocks of three- storey buildings, is the largest and finest of the kind in the country; while Messrs Keiller & Son's marmalade has become familiar and is relished in all quarters of the earth. Though marmalade constitutes the most important part of the goods manufactured by Messrs Keiller, it is not the only article produced, for they do an extensive business in jams, jellies, and general confectionery; and in giving a description of the manufactory, the processes by which these are prepared will fall to be noticed.

The visitor to Messrs Keiller's manufactory is first conducted to the stores in which the raw materials are kept. There, in boxes, barrels, and bags, are to be seen the fruits, seeds, sugars, gums, &c., used in the trade. Of course, the green fruits are deposited in the store for the briefest possible time; but of the other articles, a constant stock is kept on hand. Oranges are usually in season from the beginning of December till the end of March, and the year's supply of marmalade must be made in that time. The oranges used are the bitter variety obtained from Seville in Spain. They are imported in chests containing 2 cwt. each. Messrs Keiller consume 3000 chests annually, from which they produce about 1000 tons of marmalade, the greater part of which is sent out in pots containing one pound each. The term marmalade is supposed to have been derived from an Indian fruit resembling the orange, and named the Egle Marmelos, or Indian Beal, from which at one period a similar conserve appears to have been made. Marmalade is of the nature of a jam, as it contains the whole substance of the fruit except the internal fibres and the seeds. The first operation in the process of converting the oranges into marmalade is to remove the skins. The fleshy part of the orange is then squeezed to extract the juice, and the "peel" is sent into the cutting-room, where it is softened by being subjected to the action of steam, and is then sliced into "chips." In the early days of the manufacture the peel was cut by hand; but now the cutting is done by a simple but thoroughly effective machine, invented by Mr Wedderspoon Keiller, of Perth (a nephew of the late Mr James Keiller), the author of several ingenious contrivances for facilitating the manufacture of confectionery. Each machine consists of a spindle, from which a number of blades or cutters radiate. The blades revolve within, and close to the side of a box; and in an aperture in the side of the box a tube is fixed. The machines are attended by girls, who take up a handful of peel at a time, and, by pressing it into this tube, bring it into contact with the cutting part of the apparatus, which speedily reduces it to very thin chips.

Certain proportions of the chips, the juice of the orange, and refined sugar are mixed together and boiled to produce marmalade. The boiling-house contains a number of open copper pans about three feet in diameter, and two feet deep. The pans are made double, and the boiling is effected by the admission of steam into the space between the outer and inner vessels. A young woman attends to each pan, the contents of which she has to stir constantly. The time of boiling depends on many circumstances; but the attendants know by experience when the proper point has been reached. The boilers are so worked as to be ready in rotation; and when the contents of one are sufficiently boiled the marmalade is emptied into a pan fixed on a small truck, and conveyed to the filling-room. This is a large apartment, with tables arranged longitudinally, on which thousands of pots and jars are piled. Adjoining the filling-room is a sort of scullery in which the pots are washed by a steam-machine. The jars, which contain from 7 to 14 lb. each, are filled on a set of scales; but, as the pots are made of a uniform size, holding 1 lb. each, they are not weighed. When the contents have sufficiently cooled, the pots are raised by a steam-elevator to an upper room, where they are covered. About fifty women and girls are employed in this department. A circular piece of tissue paper is first laid on the surface of the marmalade, and then a piece of vegetable parchment is tied over all. Formerly, animal tissue was used for covering the pots; but now vegetable parchment, a much more cleanly and equally effective material, is being employed. In the course of the season, about a million and a-half of pound-pots of marmalade, besides a considerable number of jars containing from seven to fourteen pounds, are turned out. It is important to know that, for the present price of one pound of butter, three pounds of marmalade may be procured; so that in this, as in so many other cases, what was a luxury with one generation, will probably become a necessary with the next.

When the marmalade season closes in the end of March, the manufacture of candied peel, now so much used in cakes and puddings, is commenced, and lasts till the jam fruits begin to appear, which usually happens about the beginning of June. The kinds of peel candied are orange, lemon, and citron. The fruits for this branch of the manufacture are obtained chiefly from Messina. After the peel is stripped from the fruit and subjected to a preliminary treatment, it is steeped in a syrup of pure sugar for several weeks, and when taken out, candied, and dried, it is ready for the market. Messrs Keiller make a large quantity of the various kinds of peel every season. The jams and jellies are made in the ordinary way from fruit grown in various parts of Scotland, England, Ireland, and the Continent. Many tons of these preserves are produced annually.

The most interesting section of the manufactory is that in which the dry confections, such as lozenges, comfits, candies, and gum- goods are made. The sugar used in this branch is chiefly fine loaf; and the first operation is the reduction of the sugar to an almost impalpable powder. That is effected by crushing or grinding it in a mill with vertical stones. The conversion of sugar into the various kinds of sweets is carried on in separate groups of apartments, by distinct sets of workpeople. In the lozenge department the first step is to mix ground sugar, water, and gum in certain proportions, and so to form a paste or dough. The addition of a small quantity of essence imparts the desired flavour. After being well kneaded by a machine, the dough, in quantities of 2 or 3 lb. at a time, is passed between polished cylinders, and rolled out into sheets of any required thinness. The sheets are received from the rolling- machine on boards, from which they are transferred to the cutting- machines. Before the invention of the cutting-machine all the lozenges were stamped out with hand-cutters; and for particular kinds of goods cutting is still done by hand. Each machine, attended by a boy and two girls, whose duties are exceedingly light, will execute as much work in a given time as a considerable number of expert hand-cutters. The lozenges are spread out on trays, where they are examined, and all imperfections and scraps removed. Large lozenges bearing mottoes are much in fashion; and these are made from dough prepared as above, but printed and cut by hand. The lozenges are baked by being placed in a hot-room or stove, where they are subjected to a slow heat. Comfits, or confects, as they were originally called, are known in the trade as "pan goods," and are produced by surrounding aromatic seeds with a coating of sugar. The seeds most commonly employed are caraway, coriander, and cassia; but almond kernels and slips of cinnamon bark are also extensively used. After the seeds and cinnamon have been carefully cleaned and picked, they are removed to the pan-room, where there are a dozen large copper pans. Some of the pans are inclined at an angle of forty-five degrees, and revolve slowly; while others maintain a horizontal position, but are violently shaken about. The pans have double bottoms for the admission of steam; and, like the other machinery in the establishment, they are set in motion by a steam-engine. When the seeds are put into a pan, they begin to tumble about in consequence of the peculiar motion which the vessel receives. The pan attendant then pours upon them a quantity of syrup made of pure sugar. The sugar is speedily dried by the heat, and the contents of the pan become white:– As measure after measure of syrup is added, the comfits grow in size, each appearing to receive an equal share of the sugar. By pouring in syrup at intervals, the comfits are made to assume a smooth exterior; while by letting the syrup flow in constantly from a series of minute jets, a rough or "pearled" appearance is given to them. From the din of the pan-room to the quiet but equally warm retreat of the candy and "rock" makers is but a step. Rocks are made by boiling the sugar in a variety of ways, and mixing certain essences with it. The material is worked up into pieces shaped like loaves, and, two or three of these of different colours being pressed together, the workman begins by rolling the mass to a point at one end, and drawing it out into sticks about two yards long. The colours in the attenuated portion bear the same proportion to each other as they did in the mass. A variety of rock with names or mottoes running through it from one end to the other is made; and many persons are puzzled to know how it is manufactured. As the process is not a trade secret, it may be here explained. The workman, in preparing a block of sugar-paste, embeds in it longitudinal pieces of a different colour from the body of the mass, and having a section corresponding with the letters of the motto. The block, as thus built up, may not measure more than a foot in length, but by drawing it out it is converted into many yards of rock, which, on being broken at any point, shows the motto. Fruit drops are of the candy class, and are made in a variety of forms by passing sheets of prepared sugar between moulded rollers. Gum goods consist chiefly of jujubes, plain and candied. The gums used here are the finest Turkey sorts. After being boiled with a certain quantity of sugar, the gum liquor is poured into trays, and deposited in the hot-room, where it is allowed to consolidate for a week. It is then taken out and cut up into square pieces. The circular jujubes, or pastiles, which are usually coated with sugar, are formed by pouring the gum liquid into indentations in a mould of fine starch spread over a tray.

This is a brief outline of the manufacturing processes to be witnessed in Messrs Keiller's establishment. The packing department remains to be noticed. In it the confections, marmalade, &c., are made up, some in bottles, and others in parcels, boxes, and casks. Many hands are employed in packing—first in making up the goods into small parcels, and then in selecting and packing goods ordered.

Taking all the departments together, the number of workpeople is about 300, most of whom are young women, who earn from 8s. to 14s. a-week. About the whole establishment there is an air of cleanliness and order which the visitor cannot but be gratified to witness; while the appearance of the workpeople is a sufficient proof that their occupation is by no means unhealthy.


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