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Letter: Thank You For The Evocative Article on Ayers Bakery

Published on: 23 Jun, 2013
Updated on: 24 Jun, 2013

Ayers LetterFrom Brian Park

Many thanks to David Rose for the article on Ayers’ bakery which bought back wonderful memories as I was an apprentice under Mr “Bill” Hambrook in the late seventies. In common with another reader/ former employee, Brian Holt. I am also a Brian but it was not compulsory!

Mr Hambrook was a wonderful mentor and he was responsible along with John Stock of Brooklands Bakery College Weybridge for setting me on the wonderful road of baking.

Memories… yes: the mad rush for hot cross buns with queues around the corner; the traditional fermentation; Mr Bill coming down on a Friday afternoon to produce all the whole meal and brown breads, and always being very particular about doing it the correct way; early starts doing the brioche first and then scones with a big enamel tea pot stewing nicely on the side of the ovens; pumping doughnuts so full of jam so that they would burst as soon as someone took a bite. How many tops got covered?

Wally the foreman kept us all on our toes, along with Vince who worked the bread and the wonderful Vienna bread and rolls baked by (grumpy) John who loved a bet and a drink. But…I can confirm that the filling for the Eccles and Bambury pastries was totally clean and hygienic when I was trained. Edna was on cake decorations and George on Danish.

There were also at one time five apprentices, Barry, Peter, Phillip plus one other. Mr Bill was very keen to see youngsters progress.

Mr Bill was in fact a nationally recognised competition winner and judged for Vitbe at the National and Regional competitions and was kind enough to train me so that I could also compete, with some limited success.

And finally we were all “honoured” once a year at Christmas to get a visit from Mr Ayers himself where we were given a Christmas box in the form of a brown envelope (with holes). I cannot remember how much, but not a great deal, but still wonderful days which stood me in good stead as I now work in bakery consultancy worldwide.

As an aside, on Saturdays we had a very early start at three o’clock and when we finished I used to dash straight back to my lodgings with Mrs Dahl in York Road (wonderful cook and her son used to do theatre reviews for the Surrey Ad) and then start work at the men’s “boutique” called Mr Howard, selling tank tops, round collar shirts and Sta Press Tonic [two-toned] trousers and velvet trousers to girls.

Keep up the good work and many thanks for the article.

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Responses to Letter: Thank You For The Evocative Article on Ayers Bakery

  1. Brian Holt Reply

    June 23, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    I would like to thank Brian Park for adding further interesting memories of Ayers’ Bakery.

    I agree with him that Mr “Bill” Hambrook was a wonderful mentor. I was allowed and encouraged by him to enter many competitions and was free to use any ingredients that I needed to use.

    I also knew John Stock. He took over from our teacher, Mr Lloyd when he retired from the Technical College Bakery School in Kingston-upon-Thames.

    Yes Mr Bill, was very particular about doing it the correct way but he was only teaching us to his high standard.

    The old enamel tea pot, I remember very well, because there would be only two of us on nights, so we made a full pot of tea at 8pm and that lasted right around to 7am. But it didn’t taste like tea by then! I do hope it was not the same tea pot that you were still using 10 years later. We left it on the side of the coke oven or underneath in a cupboard stewing all night.

    The foreman was Wally Lowe, and second in charge Stan Walker. Our early start on Saturday’s was 5am and 4am when doing hot cross buns.
    Edna who did cake decorating upstairs, came to Ayers Bakery from Haines bakery when they closed down.

    I cannot recall ever getting a Christmas box.

    I only left for health reasons and Bill said he would not accept my notice, so I just stayed away and eventually a week later got my cards through my letterbox.

    My first week’s wage was £2-12-6p. For a week’s night work, 58 hours, the wage was £16.

  2. Steven Oliver Reply

    July 21, 2015 at 1:36 am

    Great stories. I was great friends with Shirley, the daughter of Stan Walker in the 1960s.

    Anyone know what happened to the family who lived above the bakery in Worplesdon Road?

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