It was particularly poignant that it was on VE Day that I should be researching the life and work of Martin Stothart Moore, elected Mayor of Leamington Spa in November 1939 soon after the start of the Second World War. At his acceptance speech he “hoped that Peace would be celebrated during his year of Office”. How sadly wrong he was.
My interest in Moore was associated not necessarily with his good works for the local community (of which there were many), but more in the running of the confectionery business of Moore’s Leamington Spa Water Toffee. I also had a personal contact with the Moore family in that we were neighbours of Mary Moore (daughter of Martin and Elizabeth) during her time at Comber House on the corner of Union Road and Warwick Place. She would invite our family every Christmas for “sherry for the adults and sweets for the children”, but sadly no Leamington Spa Water Toffee on offer! However, learning of my interest in the firm, she produced a few company items – bags, luggage labels, letter headings etc. – she had retained and was happy to pass them on to me. These are the basis of the photographs that are attached to this article.
Martin S. Moore moved to Leamington from Cambridge in 1905 taking over William Pollard’s confectionery business in the town. It seems as though it was Pollard who first developed the ‘saline toffee’ in 1896, which was subsequently inherited by Moore. Several outlets in the town had the toffee on sale, including Regent Street, Bath Street, and Warwick Street with manufacturing premises in Church Walk. This is captured in the attached letter heading, with a view inside described as ‘a corner of the factory’.
The two buildings of interest which remain on view are the frontage of the premises in Church Walk (now a haberdashery outlet) and 64 Warwick Street (now Oliver Bonas), notable for its cast iron decoration, just about evident in the letter heading photograph.
As a footnote, Leamington Spa Water Toffee remained in demand through the Second World War and beyond. Indeed, there are examples quoted in the press of cries of ‘send more toffee’ from the troops abroad! On December 1st. 1939 the Leamington Courier reported that:
‘Captain Lionel W. Kennan, eldest son of Mr. J.J.Kennan (Borough Engineer of Leamington Spa) and of Mrs. W.J.Barrie, has been promoted to major. He is serving in France, and has written home asking for “some more Leamington Spa Water Toffee”.
The Leamington History Group website – www.leamingtonhistory.co.uk – also has a piece on Joan Parsons, intrepid aviator from Leamington Spa, who in 1938 completed a flight from the UK to Cape Town and back.
‘She hit the local headlines in May 1940, when The Leamington Courier reported a letter she had written to makers of Spa Water Toffee, M S Moore & Co, telling them that she lived on the toffee throughout her epic flight, and giving Moore & Co permission to use her name in advertisements if they wished, as she believed RAF airmen flying night raids in Europe would benefit from a supply of the toffee.’