The Maypole And Over Southall Green
I have given a great deal of thought as to the title of this book. As I explained in my book “Growing up with Southall from 1904”, the coming of the railway split the town in two, and the inhabitants coined the sayings “Going over the trams” from South to North, and “Going over the Green”, the reverse way. Only just over the station bridge on the left-hand side is now Bridge Road, but this was made as a private road when, in 1894, land was purchased to build what was to become the largest margarine factory in the world.
Although, most unfortunately, this was closed down, finishing finally in 1929, it had such an impact on Southall that even us older ones who may have worked there ourselves, or members of our family, have very happy memories of what a happy place to work at and, to quote from an eminent authority on food factories, Sir James Crichton, when visiting that rarely had he seen so many healthy and happy workers. I, myself, spent the first seven years of my working life at the factory and will try and piece together the story of same, perhaps in a more intimate way, by naming some of the many who worked there. Every time I visit the Community Centre my thoughts are of it as the Maypole Institute, which gave so much enjoyment to all the empolyees and their families.
Synopsis of how Margarine first came to be
The siege of Paris in the Franco – German war in 1869/70 brought the necessity for a substitute for butter, for which the French Government offered a prize. A French scientist, Mege Mouries, experimenting with a mixture of milk and beef fat, evolved what was to be margarine. The word “margarine” is derived from the Greek word “margarites”, meaning “a pearl”, owing to the pearl-like globules of the first-known margarine, produced from a mixture of various fats.
After the end of the war Mege Mouries’ invention was persevered with and the poorer French found it an excellent substitute for butter. It was, at first, chiefly made from milk and oleo oil, a by-product of the meat industry, and mostly came from the large slaughter houses in the Argentine and America. But new materials had to be found, and it was discovered that vegetable oils i.e. coconuts ( copra ) and ground nut oils were a more desirable raw material and easire to handle.