The Blackpool rock maker: ‘We’ve done Marmite flavour, tikka-masala flavour – whatever the customer wants’

Tessa Waugh meets Coronation World – the makers of this seaside speciality.

Have you ever wondered how they put the letters in a stick of rock? Coronation World rock factory in Blackpool has been making the seaside speciality for 91 years and runs factory tours for visitors who wish to see the process first-hand.

‘It takes about five years to train our staff,’ says Jan Atkinson, whose husband, Ian, bought the business in 1990. Rock making is a hands-on process. ‘People who work with rock need to get used to the feel of it,’ explains Mrs Atkinson.

‘The product has to be kept warm and malleable.’ It’s no surprise that they develop asbestos fingers, as mothers and chefs do.

Blackpool rock maker

©Richard Cannon/Country Life Picture Library

The makers work at large tables, mixing colouring and flavouring into the molten sugar by hand. Letters are made in long, 3D strips and interspersed with white, before being wrapped in coloured sugar. The end result is a large bar weighing roughly 60kg (130lb), as seen above being rolled by David French and his son, Anthony (in the background is Jamie Earnshaw, colouring rock).

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Finally, the bar is transferred to a roller that makes it long and thin, before being cut and packed for sale.

‘We make rock for absolutely everyone: the RNLI, Harrods, Hamleys, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The Isle of Man has square rock,’ elaborates Mrs Atkinson.

black pool rock maker

©Richard Cannon/Country Life Picture Library

‘We’ve done Marmite flavour, tikka-masala flavour – whatever the customer wants. We even sell sugar-free rock now, but Blackpool rock is traditionally sweet and that’s why people love it.’