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The Old Bakery – happy memories on £1.50 per week

Mrs Sheila Harffey, (née Dawson), of Hollington writes (Mar 2009).

Reading the article on the Old Bakery in Tower Road West (The Old Bakery now selling bric-a-brac) brought back many memories of starting work there on January 6th 1953, aged 15, when it was  Borgeauds Bakery, owned by Messrs L & W Fookes. The bakery was originally in Queen’s Road beneath one of their shops. It moved to Tower Road West in about 1850.

The shop (at 130 London Rd) was then the ladies’ changing room and there were steps at the back leading up to a large building  which was the bakehouse. The main entrance  was in Tower Road West through the garage holding the delivery vans into the bread department. Above was a large room holding sacks of flour, mixers, pastry stampers and 20 coke-driven ovens, plus benches for preparing cakes, sponges, buns, pies and sausage rolls. Also smaller rooms for cake decorating, chocolate work, stores, washing up utensils, a packing department and a room for large cakes, e.g. wedding, birthday and anniversary.

The firm, I believe, had several shops in Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill plus supplying hotels and maybe the White Rock Pavillion and the Sun Lounge (now Azur). The main shop and head office were in London Road, opposite Christ Church. At the bottom of London Road (now a restaurant) was another shop which every Christmas had a wonderful mountain scene made of marzipan and icing which filled the whole window.

There were twelve men and boys, and twelve ladies and girls in the charge of foreman Mr Arthur Vidler in the bakehouse during the day, plus the night bread bakers. Also employed were van drivers supervised by Mr David Arkley.

The female staff started at 6.00am. I remember my first job was jamming and cutting doughnuts. We had to work fast to get an early delivery out to the shops ready for opening. Christmas and Easter were especially busy with cakes, mince pies, hot cross buns on top of our normal work-load.On Saturday mornings after baking was finished and orders sent out, everyone set to to clean the machinery and scrub the floors, the 44-hour week finishing at 12 noon, my wage being less than thirty shillings (£1.50) a week.
The work may have been hard but it was a happy work-place.

I made many friends there and, since the publication of your article, have made contact with Gill Beaumont (née West), Charlie Beaumont and Bob and Joyce Young, but have lost touch with a lot of them and sadly, a great number have passed away.

In the late 50s the ownership of the company changed to Rank Hovis McDougall and production moved to Eastbourne.


Mrs Sheila Harffey, (née Dawson), of Hollington writes (Mar 2009).

I would like to clarify a couple of things in the article on the Old Bakery. The number of ovens used was just four, not 20 as stated, two being in the downstairs bread dept and two in the upstairs cake department. These were Collins 5-deck, each taking 30 large baking trays. There was also a bread-slicing machine. Also the date of the move to Tower Road West was 1950, not 1850. Since the article’s publication, a staff photograph [above] has come to light, showing, L-R, back row: [?]; Frank/Bert Smith; Charlie Beaumont and Arthur Vidler; front row: Edna Cook; [?].

Mrs Sheila Harffey (née Dawson)

The Old Bakery

The Old Bakery



  1. Further to my post of 24th Feb I now have some more names.
    My Father worked in the bakery with Reg Cornford with whom he maintained a friendship until Reg died
    At the shop at 8 Sedlescombe Road North the manager was Mrs Jameson, and her staff was Maureen Vidler.
    I have photographs with each of these.
    Regards, Les Beaumont

  2. I ‘stumbled’ across the article ‘The Old Bakery’ as I was searching for information related to Borgeauds. My father was Charles / Charlie Beaumont, and in doing some ancestry research I decided to look at his career as a baker. There is very little about Borgeauds on the web so this article is a gem.
    Prior to working at Borgeauds Charles worked Moon’s Bakery (now 1066?) and during the war was posted to Malta where he worked as a chef (photos but no detail other than he was at HMS Euroclydon and played football). I don’t know when he joined Borgeauds but around 1953/54, when I was 2 (I was born Nov 51), we moved to live above a companny shop at 8 Sedlescombe Road North.
    I remember visiting the Bakery and climbing the wooden stairs, meeting colleagues, saw men carring 140lb sacks of flour as if they were bags of feathers. There was limited natural light. I also had an occasional ride out in a delivery van, against company rules, out of Hastings, courtesy of the driver who used to come to the shop. The shop was run by two ladies, whose names I have forgotten. He had two friends from the bakery whom I met on occasions – Reg (married to Leila) and a gentleman who moved to Eastbourne after the sale to RHM. He was always responsible (with others?) for the christmas display mentioned, of which I have one photo, and used to be taken to see each year.
    My father’s link to Bohemia continued. He left Borgeauds around 59/60, to work for his Uncle Fred, who had a bakery in Bexhill. Consequently we had to move out of our flat. His Uncle opened a second shop and bakery in Bohemia Road called The Cake Box, and Charles worked there, but I do not recall how long this stayed open. My memories include regular visits to the bakery and watching him and his colleague Reg Botting turning out the day’s production. The shop closed after some years and Charles moved to The Cake Box in Bexhill which he eventually bought, and managed until his retirement.
    I am interested in any other information that you can generate on Borgeauds.
    Les Beaumont

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