Seven of the best traditional sweet shops in the UK

With their antique scales and shelves lined with colourful jars, old-fashioned sweet shops can still be found across the UK.

The Oldest Sweet Shop in the World in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, first opened in 1827. 

Photograph by The Oldest Sweet Shop in the World
By Delle Chan
Published 17 Jan 2023, 09:00 GMT

With jar upon jar filled with everything from pear drops and barley sugar to fruit bonbons, traditional sweet shops – or shoppes, as they were once called – are every candy-lover’s dream. Dating back to the Victorian era, these sugar emporiums have stood the test of time and can today be found across the UK, in big cities and small towns alike. After all, who doesn’t love a sweet treat?

1. Mr Humbug, Greenwich

David Fireman’s parents run a traditional sweet shop in Norfolk. In 2004, he decided to bring this family expertise to London, specifically Greenwich Market, where Mr Humbug’s pink-and-white striped facade certainly stands out. Visitors can stock up on butterscotch, gobstoppers, toffees and more — all weighed out in quarter pounds, just like in the old days.

2. Mrs Beightons Sweet Shop, Haworth

At this cheery, family-run store on Haworth’s Main Street, you can take your pick from more than 500 varieties — including boiled sweets, caramels and gummies. Besides British childhood classics, there are US favourites such as Pop Tarts, Reese’s Pieces and Warheads on offer, too. 

3. Gordon & Durward, Crieff

This Perthshire institution has been catering to sweet-toothed locals since 1925. Step inside and you’ll discover shelves stacked with classic confectionery — including crumbly Edinburgh rock, fluffy Scottish macaroons and sugar mice — plus glass display cases full of animal-shaped novelty chocolates. Peer through the window at the back of the shop to watch the staff making sweets by hand. 

Chocolates on display at Gordon & Durward.

Chocolates on display at Gordon & Durward.

Photograph by Gordon & Durward

4. Hardys Original Sweet Shop, Cambridge

This confectioner has several shops across the UK, including in Cambridge, where it’s popular with students, locals and tourists alike. Take your time browsing the shelves crammed with colourful sweets, from traditional treats such as mints and aniseed balls to modern-day delights like Skittles and M&Ms. There are even Chocolate Frogs and Jelly Slugs for fans of the Harry Potter franchise. 

5. The Oldest Sweet Shop in the World, Pateley Bridge

While technically not the world’s oldest — that title belongs to Ichimonjiya Wasuke in Japan — this North Yorkshire stalwart is certainly England’s. First opened in 1827, it’s a real blast from the past, right down to the antique measuring scales and old-fashioned cash register. Its sweets are similarly old school — try the pontefract cakes: black, coin-shaped liquorice sweets named after the Yorkshire town that was once a centre for liquorice growing. 

6. Grandad Jim's Traditional Sweet Shoppe, Leyland

Take a trip down memory lane at this old-school confectioner, which stocks a colourful array of confectionery housed in Victorian-style sweet jars. Bestsellers include treacle toffee, chocolate limes and Coltsfoot Rock, a hard candy with a brittle texture and an aniseed flavour. The Leyland store is the brand’s flagship, but you can visit its outposts in Chorley, Horwich and Wigan, too.

7. Candie Bar, Kirkham

Opened in 2012, this traditional sweet shop in the Lancashire town of Kirkham sells more than a hundred varieties of jarred sweets, from Everton mints to liquorice Comfits. There’s also an impressive selection of American candy to be found, including Mike And Ike and Sour Patch Kids. Looking for a special gift? The friendly owners can customise candy bouquets filled with your choice of sweet treats. 

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