Wednesday, 15 October 2008
A Spoonful of Sugar
On the way back from Norfolk, my attention was caught by this hugely atmospheric sight, dominating the flat fenland horizon. Even by fen standards this is remote country, a back road dog-legging across from the Thetford road in order to suddenly veer-off for Southery. Virtually the only thing on it is this glowering and steaming industrial plant. This is British Sugar's Wissington Factory to the south east of Downham Market, and I only went for a closer look so that you don't have to. In fact I've mentioned it before when I showed the level crossing gate in the hedge at Fordham, on a line once kept open just for this factory. (I checked it out and it's now just about completely grown over.) But back to Wissington. British Sugar reckon to process around 2.4 million tonnes of UK grown sugar beet here every year, the most impressive sugar production in the world, and in 2005 broke all records by dealing with 18,503 tonnes in just one 24 hour period. One can only guess at how many teaspoons that is. This is odd, surreal country. Virtually the only traffic is either bulging tankers or giant tractors and trailers thundering one after the other across the landscape. And for miles around the air is permanently flavoured with the all-invasive smell of cooking beet. Er, just milk please, no sugar.