THE Prince of Wales visited a pickle factory in St Helens and confessed he is a fan of the condiment.
Prince Charles was invited to Bartons Pickles on Lascelles Street, last Wednesday, as part of the company's centenary celebrations.
During the visit, His Royal Highness met staff at Bartons and talked with elderly residents of the terraced street where the St Helens company is situated.
Children and teachers from Sutton Oak Primary and Bleak Hill congregated to welcome the Prince and wave their Union Jack flags.
The Prince of Wales said: "I believe very strongly in good old British food and Bartons Pickles is a great British local enterprise.
"The loyalty and dedication of the staff says so much about how the company is run. Bartons represents what is best about small businesses in this country."
During a tour of the factory the Prince willingly got his hands dirty and helped to make Bartons famous piccalilli, stirring a vat of the condiment with a large plastic spoon, before it was divvied into jars.
At the end of the pickle making process Prince Charles relished eating a sample of the piccalilli on a cracker.
Joanna Jenner, general manager of Bartons, said: "I am the fourth generation of the family and today truly is an exceptional occasion not just for Bartons, but for St Helens, small businesses and local sourcing."
Sharon Green, Year 2 teacher of Sutton Oak Primary, said: "He really was Prince Charming, and put the children at ease and showed a genuine interest in the people he was tallking to."
Doris Potter, who has lived on Lascelles Street for 80 years, said: "We waited a long time in the cold for Prince Charles but it was worth the wait, he was very friendly."
Annie Valentine, 87, said: "I worked at Bartons Pickles for 10 years. A lot has changed since then, but the family have remained part of the community."
As an ambassador of small businesses, Prince Charles congratulated Bartons on its successful 100 years of trading.
Bartons Pickles was established in 1905 by Edmund Barton who sold homemade pickles from his handcart. His grandson, Edmund Barton Fairhurst has been the Managing Director for 40 years and he spoke of the changes the company had undergone.
Prince Charles said: "Bartons is a brand leader in the North West, which is a wonderful achievement. It shows what huge amounts of work the family has put into this enterprise."
The Prince of Wales left the factory with a complimentary hamper of pickles.