black treacle


A thick, dark, extremely sweet syrup which is known as molasses in the United States. In Boston, we lived in a building which had been built on reclaimed land, the site of a molasses factory. On 15 January 1919 this factory was damaged by some catastrophe, never really identified, and a great vat of molasses, nearly 20 metres (60 ft) high disintegrated. It had a capacity in excess of 2,000,000 gallons. Like lava from a volcano the molasses ran through the streets to a depth of around 6 meters (18 ft) and travelling at 25-30 miles per hour. Twenty one people were drowned in the treacly sea which engulfed them and some 150 others injured. It is said that, after a tortuous clean-up, molasses continued to ooze from cracks in the ground for another 30 years.