Tate the Treacleman


The treacleman cometh....

The sun sets below the beacon, the treaclejars are in flight. Far below ......in the Buxted treacle mines (the 'workings' stretch to Jarvis Brook, Steel Cross and beyond, even as far as the mountains in the Lake District) the jarring cries of the treaclejars and the slap of their wings signals that it is night.

The houses, one by one, switch off, their windows become dark and only he street lights throw dark shadows across the slumbering buildings huddled round the entrance to the treacle mine. A train leaves the station in the Brook and the chasing treaclejars, hawking the files and moths attracted by the carriage lights, follow the steaming train as it disappears into the tunnel. It is time for the 'treacleman' to go to work.

Treacleman Tate only works at night. He takes his trained treaclejar down into the mine and realeases it. The bird flies as fast as a swallow, following the galleries through the treacle mine. It homes in on a sticky seam of sweet sorghum (treacle rock) which is full of rich pickings for the Treacleman. The bird settles and licks the sticky rock and lets out its jarring call; Treaceman Tate is on his way.

He listens for the tell tale crack of the birds wings, which beat across its back each time it savours a sweet lump of treacle. The treacleman closes in and marks the area that his treacle tracking treaclejar has located. By the moring the seam will have neen pegged out ready for the early-shift.


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