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Tuesday, 11 June 2019 12:15

Closure of historic Barnet bakery

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Mr Freeman, who is retiring at the age of 60 at Victoria Bakery Mr Freeman, who is retiring at the age of 60 at Victoria Bakery
Victoria Bakery, a High Barnet institution for well over half a century, is closing down after the retirement of its owner James Freeman, a fifth-generation baker.

Bread was first recorded as being baked at 83 High Street, Barnet, in 1884, and the Freeman family have been baking in north London since the 1820s.

The original shop doorway of the bakery is said to have been where Charles Dickens envisaged Oliver meeting the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist, written by Dickens in 1837.

Mr Freeman, who is retiring at the age of 60, said that his three sons all had successful careers of their own and to his great disappointment he had failed to sell the Victoria Bakery as a going concern.

“We are a profitable business but unfortunately there is no demand for a business like this when the supermarkets and multiples have taken over so much of the bakery trade.

I have tried to find a buyer, but no one was interested.

“After a lifetime of days getting up at either 3am, 4am or 5am I think it’s time I enjoyed my retirement.

“I have tried to find a buyer, but no one was interested.

“It is a great shame. I have known this shop, man and boy, all my life”

Mr Freeman broke off to speak to the Barnet Society while have meetings to discuss redundancy terms with his 14 members of staff, who include two bakers, other full-time staff and part-timers. The bakery’s last day of trading is Saturday 22 June.

Victoria Bakery is one of the oldest retail premises in Barnet High Street and was listed as a shop until 1867, then traded as an alehouse and became a baker in 1884.

Mr Freeman’s father took over the shop in 1968, but it had been a long- established business and his family had been in baking for generations.

“In 1820 the Freemans had a bakery on Highgate Hill. We then moved to Kentish Town, and later Enfield, before coming to Barnet.”

A notice in the Victoria Bakery’s window gives a full account of the decision by Mr Freeman and his wife Debbie to close the business.

“It’s been great fun, a challenging time, and a real pleasure to be part of High Barnet...The team at the bakery, Debbie and I, would like to thank all our lovely customers.

“We have come to know generations of families who have come to us not just for bread and cakes but for wedding and birthday cakes year after year.”

Mr Freeman paid tribute to the staff who had worked at the Victoria Bakery over the years, all hours, day and night.

“After 40 years in the bakery trade, man and boy, the time has come to hang up my over gloves and retire...the Victoria Bakery has been in Barnet High Street for over 50 years, but all good things come to an end.”

Although it is the end of the line for Mr and Mrs Freeman, their nephew Lewis is carrying on the tradition into the sixth generation at Dunns Bakery, Crouch End (www.dunns.bakery.co.uk)

 


  

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