Sally remembers it was the sweetest of jobs

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:58 05/05/2014
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

CELEBRATION: Sally Loseby, 92 years old, recalls her time working in the Griffin’s Nelson chocolate department.

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A landmark anniversary for biscuit company Griffin's has brought back sweet memories for a Nelson woman.

Sally Loseby, 92, worked at the former Nile St Griffin's factory in the late 1960s. The company celebrates its 150th anniversary today.

Mrs Loseby moved to Nelson from Birmingham in 1967 with her husband Harry and their daughters Pat and Ann, then aged 16 and 11. She said she happily followed her husband here, despite not knowing a thing about the country.

They came over on a five-week cruise, and spent two weeks exploring Nelson before beginning to search for jobs.

They bought a home on Golf Rd, by their newly beloved Tahunanui beach. It took about two weeks to find the new home, whereas "in England it took us 15 years to get a house," she recalled.

Mrs Loseby walked into the Griffin's factory on Nile St and was given a job that day.

The company was founded in Nelson by John Griffin, first as a flour mill in 1864. In 1890 he added the manufacturing of biscuits and confectionery. The factory was closed in 1988 with the loss of 137 jobs, and then demolished to make way for Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology expansion.

Back in the 1960s, Mrs Loseby said, they had a lot of business.

She worked at the factory for about three years, "doing chocolate teddy bears, chocolate fish and chocolate toasties. I loved that job".

Her sister worked there too and they would walk to work together from Tahunanui.

Mrs Loseby was in charge of dabbing chocolate on the sweets and biscuits. She also had to inspect the chocolate pieces coming down the conveyor belt and collect rejected pieces and prise apart sticky chocolate fish ahead of packaging.

Every Friday Griffin's factory workers could pay one shilling and take home a bag of the rejected chocolates for their children or grandchildren.

'‘I got to sit all day. You could eat as much as you liked, they knew you would get sick if you sat there and ate too much."

However, thanks to over-indulging on the cruise to New Zealand - where she said she just sat around and ate - Mrs Loseby went on a diet when she started at the factory.

"When I got off the boat I was 11 stone so I went on a diet at Griffin's," she laughed.

She said she proudly maintained her 9- stone figure after the diet.

It was a "marvellous time" at Griffin's.

There were hundreds of people working there, and she made many friends who she would go to lunch and dances with.

"Even now, some people come up to me in the supermarket and tell me they remember me from working at Griffin's."

Back in the late 1960s, Mrs Loseby made $20 a week. It was cheaper living - she paid the mortgage and saved $12 a week.

She remembers milk was 4 cents a bottle and the house was $12, 000 and later sold for $250,000.

She worked five days a week, and the family would have barbecues and picnics at the weekend.

She had met Harry at a dance in Birmingham when she was working in a factory during World War II helping to build Spitfires.

"I knew he was the one. I loved him right away. We looked at each other and that was it."

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After Harry's death in 1992, she sold their home in Golf Rd, and since then has lived in Beach Rd, a stone's throw away.

Mrs Loseby has four grand-daughters and three great-grandchildren.

She is still a fan of the Griffin's products.

- Nelson

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