Uncle Joe’s Home Sweet Home
Wiganers have a new tourist attraction to boast about ! Stephen Jones didn’t realise what he was buying when he moved into number six, Acton Street, in Swinley, four years ago. It was only when friends struggled to find the terraced house en-route to a house warming Googled the address that they discovered it was the house where Ellen Santus made her first Uncle Joe’s Mint Ball at the end of the 19th Century.
The house is now being recognised for its historic significance with a specially commissioned plaque which has been placed above the from door of the house.
“I love local history and so finding out that my house was the place where the first mint ball was created is a real honour. Since learning about its past I have a new found pride for my Acton Street home, I have lovingly restored many of its original Victorian features to get a feeling of what it was like 112 years ago. Having the plaque on the wall is a fitting gesture for this very special house and will mean a lot to local residents too.”
Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls are sold across the globe with fans of the sweets living as far a field as Australia and the United States. When asked if he was worried about his home becoming a local tourist attraction, Stephen said: “I hope that people do come and visit and that it inspires them to learn more about local history and the heritage of Uncle Joe’s, which has had a big impact on Wigan.”
Lancashire based, William Santus and Company has been making a variety of sweets since 1898. Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls is the company’s founding and most famous confectionary, having being immortalised in countless articles, cartoons and poems; there has even been a song written about them! Ellen made the sweets in the kitchen at number 6 Acton Street, until 1908 when production moved out of the family home and into a local factory. The factory in Wigan continues to make sweets in the traditional way, by hand using 100% natural ingredients.
Uncle Joe’s Managing Director John Winnard comments: “Uncle Joe’s is steeped in history and tradition and that’s what makes us such a popular sweet brand in the UK and abroad. We’ve always known that number 6 Acton Street was the address where it all began and thought it was about time that we celebrated our family and business history by placing a plaque on the house.
“We hope that it will continue to instil pride in the people of Wigan and perhaps attract a few new visitors to the town!”