Bakery firm is still on a roll after 50 years

AN ESSEX bakery business yesterday celebrated half a century of serving customers.

Dennis Hume set up Humes of Halstead on April 1, 1960, with his late father, Albert.

Dennis, now 72, and his wife, Ann, 71, still help out at the shop, in the town’s high street, and are now ably supported by their three children, Wendy, 41, Adrian, 39, and Judith, 39.

Albert Hume previously worked from a small bakery business in Bures but, after his son returned following training, the pair bought new premises in Halstead in 1960, explained Ann.

“My husband went to bakery school in Cambridge. He did an apprenticeship in Frinton, and finished his apprenticeship in Bradford. When he finished his apprenticeship, the store wasn’t big enough so they brought it here,” she said.

“It was all done on a handshake. There was no reams of paper to be signed and at the time the flour used to come in hessian sacks and they had a five shilling deposit on these sacks and they paid the loan by not taking the deposit on these sacks.”

Albert died in the 1980s and his son has carried on the business. Ann and Dennis, who were voted presidents of the National Association of Master Bakers about 20 years ago, still live above the shop.

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“Adrian is more or less in charge of the bakery and his dad helps sometimes. Judith does the decorating and Wendy does the computer work,” said Ann.

They cater for all types of bakery, including wedding cakes and as a traditional bakery make everything from Eccles cakes and jam doughnuts to sausage rolls and pasties. They source their flour from W & H Marriage & Sons of Chelmsford, another local business.

They have a loyal customer base, but Ann admits they have not been immune from the effect of supermarket outlets, and the changing working habits of Halstead’s inhabitants.

“It’s quieter than it was. We would be idiots if we thought it would stay the same,” she said.

They have survived through hard work and providing customers, now into the third generation, with what they require, she said.

“We have always tried to produce good quality products and I think that’s the key to try to keep successful,” she said. “I’m proud of the fact. It’s such an achievement to still be going strong.”