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Abram Lyle


1820 - 1891

Sugar refiner. Born and raised in Greenock, Lyle began as an apprentice in a lawyer's office before joining his father's cooperage business. He began to develop a fleet of ships which grew to become the largest in Greenock.

Having been involved in the import of sugar from the West Indies, he diversified into sugar refining by setting up the Glebe Sugar Refinery in 1865, with four partners. He sold up in 1872 and established a new refinery on Plaistow Wharf in East London, which was run by four of his sons with a workforce most of whom had come from Greenock. The refinery soon began producing Lyle's Golden Syrup, which was to save the company when the sugar price collapsed due to the increasing success of the home-produced sugar-beet crop.

Lyle's sugar refinery was located close to the another refinery begun several years earlier by Henry Tate and, in 1921, the two combined to form the sugar multi-national Tate & Lyle, which now operates in 29 countries with a turnover of £3.7 billion (2007). Lyle's Golden Syrup, in its distinctive tin with a picture of a dead lion and biblical quotation "Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness", remains one of the longest established brands on supermarket shelves.

Lyle remained in Greenock and served as Provost (1876-79). He built a large house in neighbouring Gourock and had a country retreat on the opposite side of the Clyde at Innellan. He died at his home in Gourock and was buried in Greenock Cemetery.


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