The same Miss Burgess who took her class of 8 and 9 year-olds to see fishing docks, a lighthouse, and the local brickworks, also took us to visit a factory that made Cleethorpes rock, and another that made Tickler's jam.
Rock is a traditional seaside candy made of sugar and glucose syrup. Much of it is made by hand, so the class got to watch every stage and have it explained by those performing it. The sugary syrup is boiled and cooled, then aerated and pulled out into slabs. The part that interested us was watching the red letters made of coloured toffee inserted into the white toffee so they would spell out the word CLEETHORPES, all the way through the stick of rock when it was rolled out. We were all presented with sticks of Cleethorpes rock to take home.
Most children like rock because it is sweet and chewy, and don't seem to mind that it sticks to your teeth and is probably quite good at pulling out any fillings you might have.
The visit to Tickler's jam factory was no less enthralling. Thomas Tickler had been a local celebrity, serving as mayor and later MP for Grimsby. He'd built up the jam business out of a small grocery, but now it was a giant factory. We saw the fruit boiled up in huge cauldrons, and watched the stream of sugar cascade into it. The fun part was watching the jars moving along belts in a constant line to have a stream of liquid jam squirted into each
Again, we were all given a small pot of Tickler's plum jam as a souvenir. I later read that Tickler's supplied tins of its jam to World War I troops, who sometimes used the empty tins as makeshift grenades, known as "Tickler's artillery."
These visits that Miss Burgess took us on were educational in the broad sense, in that she wanted us to grow up knowing how things were done and how they worked. I look back on them fondly. In my mid-30s, when I was a professor at Hillsdale, I went back to my junior school and asked about her. She had retired, but lived with her brother not far away. I paid a visit, and expressed my appreciation over a cup of tea. When she knew who I was, she immediately asked, "Are you a professor?" I replied that I was.
"I thought as much," she responded, not having seen me since I was 10.