Baking History

If you ask neighbouring businesses and residents around the area, chances are they will bring up a good knowledge of the Academy building and its history. Dr Sergis and I were keen to find out more information ourselves, and so on one rainy afternoon, I decided to embark on a bit of research. 


I visited the Dugdale Centre in Enfield and made my way up to the top floor, which houses the Enfield Archives. These archives are free to use. A kind, bespectacled man asked me what he could help me with and after telling him, he began to pull out boxes and boxes of photographic records and books and of course, maps. With historical research, particularly of this nature, it is important to work backwards. Map records show there was no building before 1850. There were plenty of open spaces and green areas back then. 



The Academy building was probably built in 1907/8 and was occupied by a Mr Charles Hailstone, a baker and confectioner who was born in the small village of Wilcot in Wiltshire in 1859. The business he owned here in Enfield was a family run one, with five of Mr Hailstone’s eight children working alongside him. They owned a shop with some seating, and this was located where the barber’s shop is today, just on the Southbury Road, situated before the Academy building. If you take a look outside the shop today, very little has changed. Take a walk outside the Academy and you can still see faint reminders of its past. Doorways have been bricked up, and the beam to which the shop’s sign would have hung is still visible today. 

The building the Academy is situated in would have been the shop’s bakehouse. This is where all the bread and cakes would have been made. They would have then been transported to the shop front. Many independent bread making businesses such as Hailstone and Sons (as it was known), may have also provided a bread delivery service, using carts similar to the ones pictured. C. Ungerer and C.A Breyer were bakers of the Edmonton area. Customers would order their bread in advance and it would be delivered to their house in the morning.


The garages for the residents, which are situated at the back of the Academy, may have been the stables for the horses needed to cart of loaves or supplies to and from the bakehouse, or simply, they could have been store houses. There is some speculation that the flour needed to make the bread and cakes were also made on site, and the building shows good evidence for this, as the shape of the roof in the laboratory would suggest. It may have used flour machines, which were in use during the Industrial Revolution of 1820-1840. 


I would add that the interior seen today would have been quite different in Mr Hailstone’s day. Most of the classrooms are later constructions. The interior would have needed space for ovens and tables on which to knead the dough. It is impossible to say what exactly the Academy would have looked like inside without any original floor plans or photographs of the interior, which sadly I have yet to uncover.
The bakehouse would have been a very hot and busy place to work in, and Mr Hailstone and his assistants would have had a physically exhausting job, which would have started at 11pm at night. So, it’s no wonder many bakers did not live past the age of 42. 


Fast forward to the early 1930’s and the bakery was still going, but this time Mr Hailstone’s youngest son, Frederick was the head of the business. He was married to Dorothy and they had one son, Charles, in 1928. They lived at 14 Craddock Road, which is just around the corner from the Academy. 


Fast forward again to the late 1960’s and the bakery was known as Marian Bakers. There are no records of a bakery in the late 1970’s, so we can assume business ceased sometime after the bakers changed hands.
We are quite proud of the history of our building. Bakeries were a vital part of daily life throughout the ages, as bread has been the staple food of many diets, both for the rich and poor. So, it must have been an honour for Mr Hailstone to have served his community in this way. 


Some independent bakeries are still around, and whilst researching the local area, I came across Holtwhites, an independent artisan bakery situated in Enfield, to get a sense of how our shop could have functioned 110 years ago. The shop is very quaint from the front and is very neatly kept. The staff were friendly, and before I began to snoop around, I had to sample some of the goods. I purchased a speciality cappuccino, which had a very unique taste. The coffee beans used are sold in store and are also made by an independent company, the flavour was incomparable to any coffee I have tried. Flavour notes included honey and other spices. I also purchased a cinnamon biscuit, made fresh in the shop. They sell a range of breads, cakes and cheeses as well as sauces, spices and some confectionary items. Customers were mostly local, striking up conversation with one of the owners over their usual choice of bread. This experience really gave me a sense of what it may have been like in Hailstones’ quaint little shop around the corner.

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