A BAKING business which was started in a terraced house in Marshfield is celebrating 30 years of serving up tasty treats.
Marshfield Bakery began life at 6 High Street in 1984 when Paul White was made redundant from an agricultural firm and his wife Lynne, already an accomplished cook, started supplying the village’s three pubs with puddings and local shops with cakes to sell.
Unaware of the future brand they were creating, the couple worked tirelessly to meet demand and support their two young children Ben, then aged four, and Becky, a year younger.
Ben, now sales director for Marshfield Bakery, said: “I remember sacks of flour up the stairs in our house and butter just filled the fridge.
“Mum had always been into catering and cooking and used to work for the old City of Bristol College. Dad would deliver the cakes and biscuits to places in Bath and Bristol on a sale or return basis but nothing ever came back.
“They did it make ends meet firstly but realised fairly quickly that products were selling and thought they would do more.”
Orders came in thick and fast and the family moved to Westend Farm, on the edge of Marshfield, where outbuildings were converted to bakery kitchens and the couple employed their first member of staff.
“It was an organic growth,” said Ben. “I don’t think they had any long-term plan to start with.”
The brand grew with Lynne and an expanding cooking team specialising in tray bakes, particularly their popular flapjack range, but always making each and every product the same way she did at home.
“Everything is still made like you would at home, we just buy in bulk,” added Ben. “They are still mum’s recipes and there are no added ingredients.
“It might be tempting to cut corners and put machines in or buy cheaper ingredients but you would soon know and so would our customers. I think using those recipes and making everything by hand is part of why we have been so successful.”
The bakery moved once again, shortly after Ben joined the business in 2004, to a more visible location at Toll Down Barn on the A46, just minutes from the M4 motorway. The headquarters, where around 45 staff are now employed, was officially opened by the Duchess of Cornwall in 2008.
“It was a big leap and a bit of nervous time,” said Paul, who remains a director along with his wife. “But my motto in life is don’t die wondering. If you think you have a good idea, within reason, do it.”
By the late 1990s, Marshfield Bakery had secured a contract to supply bitesize flapjacks and shortbreads to British Airways and now boasts an impressive portfolio of companies including the Marriott hotel group and Waitrose as well as local farm shops, cafes and venues. A third of their trade, however, is making own label products for supermarkets and suppliers.
“We are very flexible,” said Ben. “We will do different sizes and packaging for customers, it is what makes us different.
“But this year we want to focus more on our own label and will be refreshing the packaging. We are also holding a big summer event for staff and customers and taking our staff on tours of other local food companies.”
Marshfield Bakery has taken on several apprentices in the last year and is now recruiting for four more staff.