Many readers who grew up in High Wycombe will remember the delicious smell of chocolate wafting over the town.

In 1945, William Stewart and Dr Arnold Spicer created a chocolate factory in the town.

Stewart & Arnold (S&A) was sadly torn down in the 1990s and almost everyone who remembers it recalls the delightful scents coming from the factory.

And those who worked there also have fond memories of it.

Michelle Planterose worked at the factory from May 1986 until around April 1988. She recalled the “relaxed” environment and told the Bucks Free Press it was a “lovely place to work”.

Michelle, who was a clerical assistant to the management accountant, spoke about the various sweet treats produced at the factory.

She said: “From what I can remember the products were Corn Crisp Cakes, Crunchies and Fudge.

“These were all made for many supermarkets like Sainsbury’s, Wavy Line, Mace, Londis, Tesco and M&S.

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“The crunchie and fudge were family bags. All made from the same ingredients for all customers, but the Corn Crisp cakes were thicker for M&S.

“Mars used to deliver the ingredients on lorries for S&A to make chocolate and send back to them in tankers.

“They [also] made the little square pellets, that were fried by the customer, using maize that was the base for the SNAP crisps.”

Bucks Free Press: PICTURED: Michelle PlanterosePICTURED: Michelle Planterose

She described the managing director at the time, Alan Cheshire, as a “lovely guy”, saying he was “always a joker”.

She recalled a favourite memory: “Alan Cheshire asked me to carry his golf clubs up to his third floor office.

“I did as he was such a lovely guy and I was young and trying to impress.

“When I walked the three flights he came out of the lift. I hadn’t thought of the lift. He was always a joker.”

Speaking about the fun she and her co-workers had, and some of the complaints they received, Michelle said: “I worked in the big open plan accounts office and the person opening the complaints letters would read them out for us all to grade them.

“The cheek of some people who complained never had any to return and we would get regulars expecting freebies.

“We’d give the best freebies and replies to the best composed letters. Some were very amusing and were worthy.

“If they were downright rude then they just got a sorry letter with no freebies.”

Michelle said since the S&A “used a lot of water” the water board would “randomly visit” and they would check in with reception.

Bucks Free Press: PICTURED: The chocolate factory seen in the distance near the roundabout at the junction of Oxford Rd and Abbey Way PICTURED: The chocolate factory seen in the distance near the roundabout at the junction of Oxford Rd and Abbey Way

She added: “I can’t remember the particular name but a tannoy was put out for a member of staff that didn’t exist. The factory knew the water board were visiting and watched the water consumption.”

She also told the BFP there was a laboratory on site that tested and trialled new potential products and flavours, adding it was “great if you got on the taste testing panel”.

Michelle also recalled Fridays being fish ‘n’ chips day, when she and her colleagues would go to the “lovely shop in Bull Lane”, and remembered they “loved the bakery smell from Tesco across the road, especially the hot cross buns”.

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Speaking about the working environment, she described it as “very relaxed from the top management down, so a lovely place to work in the office”.

She added: “I did make a friend who was a bridesmaid at my wedding in 1988 but I’m sorry to say we never kept in touch and I can only remember her same as Sally.”

She also remembered the factory “never closed, it was open 365 days a year” and that it was multi-cultural.

More than 75 years after it first opened in High Wycombe, Stewart & Arnold chocolate is now produced in the historic market town of Banbury, in neighbouring Oxfordshire.

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