Sadness as bakery is slowly dismantled and moved

Lorries loaded up with the last vestiges of what was a very busy bakery at New Springs
Lorries loaded up with the last vestiges of what was a very busy bakery at New Springs

Obscured from prying eyes, a chunk of Wigan’s manufacturing history slips quietly away.

But, thanks to the camera shutter of reader Chris Winstanley, it wasn’t to be entirely unseen.

They are some of the last vestiges of a famous Cale Lane bread making plant latterly known as British Bakeries, which filled New Springs with swirling aromas to gladden the nostrils of any toast lover.

And they are now being carted away, quietly, under flapping tarpaulin on the backs of a series of lorries.

Berwick on Tweed’s gain will be Wigan’s loss.

Because the machines and plant from the former ‘thirty sack’ bakery is known to be going for relocation, not scrapping.

The same goes for the giant flour silos which, from certain angles, looked a little like sinister Cold War ICBM bomb launchers.

New Lincolnshire owners of the structures have confirmed that they are currently being refurbished pending export abroad.

And that, at least, proves just how state of the art the plant, from mixing machines to the massive automatic ovens, in reality, were.

And just why the workforce and their bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union representatives were so shocked earlier this year by the confirmation of the axing of the plant, now set for complete and final next March.

As well as a huge blow to much needed jobs, the closure also means a further serious contraction in the town’s once vibrant manufacturing base.

The bakery was founded at this site by the late William Harvey, well over 80 years ago.

From 1955 it was operated by John Harvey.

Over the years it would also develop into a crumpet making centre of excellence as part of Rank Hovis MacDougal group.

Latterly it has been operated by British Bakeries - part of the giant combine Premier Foods.

It became a home of the famed malty-tasting Hovis brown loaf also beloved for its nostalgic long running television advertising campaign.

However, it will also be remembered as the site for an increasingly bitter and long running industrial relations battle over temporary contracts and claims over an increasing dependence on zero hours contracts.

A saddened Bakers’ union regional secretary Geoff Atkinson said: “It has been the business equivalent of death by a thousand cuts.”