Sweet thing

Teddy Gray's Sweet Factory, Dudley, 2010

Teddy Gray’s Sweet Factory, Dudley, 2010. Image courtesy Martin Parr.

I was sad to note at the weekend that Ted Gray, of Black Country confectionary company Teddy Gray’s, had passed away in his sleep at the age of 81.

Teddy Grays is is household name to those in the area – from the famous Herbal Tablets and rock, through a whole tranche of traditional sweets, Grays still make them all in their most traditional British factory.

It was with this in mind that when I saw the following documentary shared on Twitter by noted local historian @Sacredwench from Black Delph, I knew I had to share it with readers.

Back when the waistline allowed, I loved Gray’s herbals and other boiled sweets, and this wonderful documentary is a wonderful snapshot of a company at which little has needed to change in decades.

My condolences to the Gray family, and I’ll wave my little stick of Black Country rock in Ted’s honour.

From the Dudley News:

Former sweet company boss Ted Gray dies aged 81

TRIBUTES have been paid to the man who spent more than 50 years at the helm of a traditional Dudley sweet company.

Ted Gray, who ran the Edward Gray of Dudley company – fondly known as Teddy Grays – with his older sister Betty, died in his sleep on Friday, aged 81.

The siblings took over the day-to-day running of the family firm’s North Street factory in the sixties.

Betty, who still works for the company at the age of 88, was persuaded by their father to join the business when a vacancy arose in the office and she was soon joined by her brother when he returned from serving in the RAF.

Together, they kept the confectionary business – renowned for its speciality herbal tablets as well as boiled sweets, fudge, toffee, nougat and toffee teacakes, that are sold at its shops in Dudley, Wednesbury and Bewdley and market stalls in Bilston and Blackheath – at the top of its game.

However in 2013, Mr Gray, a father-of-four, who also leaves behind two grandchildren and a great-grandson, was forced to take a step back from the business due to ill health.

His daughter, Julie Healy, said her father’s biggest achievement were “keeping the business running all these years” and closely guarding the secret of his father’s herbal tablet recipe.

She continued: “He was a lovely, generous, caring man. Everybody loved him and had not got a bad word to say about him, he was very well known throughout the town. He was the ‘King of Rock’, we’ve been told.”

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4 Responses to Sweet thing

  1. Steve harte says:

    Very enjoyable video,it’s nice to see that some of the old traditions haven’t been lost.
    Really enjoyed it.

  2. Trev says:

    Great story Bob really enjoyed it

  3. @WestBromEL says:

    I’ve posted this video on Twitter a time or two myself, their ice cream is worth searching out too.
    Here’s a tale from around ten years ago, a mate of mine who writes the occasional book on local sites and characters, was about to publish his latest tome on William Perry, The Tipton Slasher, bearing in mind this was early February he still thought a good way to promote the book, apart from using the ‘premier hotel’ in Dudley, was to get some sticks of rock made up, he duly phoned up Grays and was surprised that Ted Gray answered personally, he made he request to the great man but Ted politely but firmly explained that he couldn’t accommodate him for at least four months as “wim still flat out on the herbals and then we gorra mek all the rock fer the zoo!”

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