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Who Was Bill?
One thing I will take away from this article is never assume anything! I knew that the Jagla family ran the bakery. When I heard that both the father and grandfather were in the same business, I assumed one generation preceded the other and that the photo of the shop in the 1940s was still run by the same family. How wrong I was, as the Jagla family did not take over the bakery until 1955. It was therefore back to the drawing board to start at the very beginning and so began my research from 1935 searching for Bill.
Records from 1935 gave me a George and he wasn’t a baker but a grocer! Listed at 144 Finney Lane was George Mayell along with Mrs. P. Oliver a ladies’ hairdresser and Miss Kathleen Moore a draper. By 1938 there was just George. In the 1939 register of people living at 144, George was not listed. There was now Louisa Walsh, aged 52, a confectioner and Robert H Mayell, aged 15, an apprentice confectioner. He must be the son of George and he may have been a Bob but not a Bill!!
By 1940 the premises had become Bill’s Confectioners. A bakehouse was at the back, and I am told that there used to be a café upstairs in there. Anne Rushton in her memories from the 1930s, for St Catherine’s Linkline Memories series, recalled Bill’s bakery and café too.
From the 1946 electoral roll, an Audley and Evelyn Whetstone lived there. Now, whether they were bakers too or just lived above it, I have not been able to ascertain, but between 1950 and 1955 it was just Evelyn. Perhaps Bill’s Bakery was just alliteration, as I didn’t find a Bill.
Fig. 1 Finney Lane, c 1940
from Jean Heinekey's Heald Green in Wartime
Bill's is between the greengrocers on the corner of Neal Ave, and a drapers shop run by Mrs. Hester Birch
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From 1955 to 1987 the premises was the family home of the Jagla family and for my research I have spoken to all three daughters, Margaret, Janet and Irene. They recalled their own lives to me and also gave an insight into the life and times of living in a thriving bakery business. But firstly, their father gave them his recollections of his life living in Poland before the outbreak of World War II.
Stefan Jagla was born on 15th December 1925 in Ruda Slaska a village in Silesia in Southern Poland. His parents ran a small farm there and he had four brothers and a sister. The area had a turbulent history of being fought over and annexed by Prussia in the 18th century and by 1871 was part of Germany. After WWI Upper Silesia voted to re-join Poland and gained independence becoming part of the Silesian Voivodership Second Polish Republic. Of course, by this time another generation of people had been born and knew nothing other than German rule. A problem not unlike what is going on now in Ukraine with the Donbas region. Did Stefan class himself as German or Polish or did he even have a choice?
In September 1939 Germany declared war on Poland and marched across the border, entering Stefan’s home village and occupying it by September 3rd. A notable Polish resistance member was executed there and then and Silesia was incorporated into the Third Reich. In November 1940 at the age of 15, Stefan began an apprenticeship in a bakery in Bielszowicach, just west of his village. He remained there until February 1943.
Three days after his 18th birthday in December 1943, Stefan was drafted into the light artillery of the Wehrmacht. After a short stay in barracks, he was moved to La Rochelle in France on January 1st, 1944, to train recruits. After four months he went over to Spain. By June 1944, D Day had happened in Normandy, and his unit was transferred to Nice and then Marseille. In January 1945, after hearing that his family in Silesia were now under the communist rule of the Red Army, he decided to desert. In mid-February, whilst on guard duty, Stefan and a fellow Pole escaped and joined the Italian partisans. They were handed over to American soldiers and finally went to the base of the 2nd Polish Corps near Naples. On May 3rd, 1945, Stefan made a vow in front of Lt. General Wladyslaw Anders to fight for Poland and joined one of the two regiments of the Warsaw Infantry Division.
In 1946 the Polish Corps were transferred to Britain and he joined the Polish Resettlement Corps. This was an organisation formed by the British Government in 1946 as a holding unit, kept under military control, until the men were fully adjusted to British life.
Stefan was eventually released from there as a civilian on 16th June 1949. He worked hard in a chemical factory and then in the kitchen and bakery owned by Manchester University. He met Jean Munro out dancing in Manchester and married her in 1953.
Fig. 2 Stefan and Jean on their wedding day, 1953
© Janet Woolf
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They lived in a flat in Victoria Park. Jean’s father, John McHattie Munro, was a baker and he set the young couple up, with their new baby Janet and toddler Margaret, in the already established Bill’s Bakery in 1955.
Fig. 3 John McHattie Munro
© Janet Woolf
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Fig. 4 Stefan in 1947
© Janet Woolf
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Fig. 5 Finney Lane, showing Bill's Bakers, c 1952
© Frith Collection
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Margaret's Memories of Life at the Bakers and Shop
"The bakery I remember as being a lot bigger than the more recent photos show. Inside there were two ovens that were quite big, at least five or six feet deep and probably the same wide, one on top of the other with cast iron doors. When making bread, the dough was made in a huge thing, almost like a cement mixer. Two men would lift it up and scrape the dough out onto big wooden tables we had in the bakery. One of my jobs was to adhere to a standard weight. Everything was traditionally weighed on a two-pound scale. It had big cast iron weights, some the shape of a block with a handle, some were brass weights with a waisted shape, and I really wanted to inherit them, but I don’t know what happened to them. All the yeast was fresh yeast, and it came in big blocks about the size of two one pound packs of butter put together and we’d sell it to home bakers too. One of the shop assistants used to break a bit off and eat it. It was called DCL Yeast and came in waxed paper with blue writing on it.
"You would use a cutter blade with a wooden handle to cut bits off, weigh it and put into a machine, that rolled it into a sausage shape, then dropped it into a tin. If the weight wasn’t right, you added or took off a bit of dough. It became quite easy to judge it. The loaves went into tins, like a typical size you see in a family kitchen, and they would be stacked on a tabletop with a cloth over to prove. Then they went into the oven using paddles. These were like a shovel, but with a flat surface, about two feet long and a foot wide. One was metal and one was wood. There was a skill in loading the ovens with these paddles. Dad and the apprentices would load two or three tins onto them and slide them into the oven. We made different types of bread. There was white large homemade and small white homemade, wheatmeal and a white round loaf with a slashed top. I would slash a razor through that dough, that was called a cob. A lovely one called an oven bottom because that’s where it went. They were a really soft milky bread. There was also a farl. This was a circular dome shape and with a big knife blade it was cut into four segments. It was a very high fibre loaf. A bread like a french baguette, we called a twist. Short weights we sold cheap, as they didn’t make the full weight. Hovis loaves were really nice.
"When we made bread rolls you cut the dough into smaller pieces and then, grandad, and dad would roll them by hand two at a time. Some were flattened to make barm cakes, some were made round, or long shapes for bridge rolls. They would go onto great big baking trays, two and a half feet to three feet long by two feet wide. They would go into a cabinet where there was steam rising to prove them and then they would go into the oven, again with the paddles. We made the famous floury baps with a very Scottish recipe, barmcakes, flat rolls and bridge rolls like a finger roll. Grandad, being Scottish, sometimes made buttery rolls. He was from Aberdeen, and he made them for the family. They were a cross between a lardy bread and a croissant savoury with lard, a bit of butter and salt and they were quite heavy flaky things. We made sweet breads as well. Our scones were triangle shaped and quite flat, tea cakes, hot cross buns and we had customers who all had their favourites. Every so often we made specials. For instance, if the Village Hall did hot pot suppers, we made huge, galvanised containers of it, in our ovens like school dinners. For Harvest Festivals Dad would make a huge dough wheatsheaf, like a sculpture. It would be two to three feet tall by two feet wide and we’d bake those.
"It was fun helping in the bakery, but you had to be up early, and it was hard work. When Janet and I were younger, aged about nine or ten, we’d carry in trays of cakes on beautiful plastic green trays, that were quite pretty. They were like a small tea tray, and the cakes would be arranged on there and go into the shop window. I was big for my age by the age of 11, so one of my jobs was to carry big wooden trays of bread from the bakery to shelving in the corridor behind the shop. That was hard work as these trays were two to three feet wide. Another job in my teens was I had to rake out the ovens at the weekend. They were coke fired and I had to remove the ashes. At home we had a coal fire in the house. If we wanted to get it going quickly, Dad would go to the bakery and get a shovel of red-hot coke and start it.
"We made savoury food too. The ovens were used to roast meats, ham and pork, and that would be sliced in the shop to sell loose or in sandwiches. We made meat pies. Steak and kidney, meat and potato, which I absolutely adored, and pork pies and sausage rolls. They were made doing the pastry separately. Then to make the casing we had a machine like a plunger, and it’s called blocking. You put a weighed amount of pastry into an individual tin and then pull a lever. It would be pressed into the shape inside the tin. Then you would trim the top with a knife to make it neat. Next dad or grandad would fill it with the meat. I would go along with a water brush and damp the rim of the pastry and put a lid on. We cut out different pastry shapes according to the pie. Meat and potato had a hole punched in it. Steak and kidney had a little crescent moon on top. I would do the blocking and the lids. We also made pork pies that again were absolutely delicious. Using the same process to make the pie shape and then Dad or Grandad would put the meat in. I would do the lids and then you’d have to use something like a pair of tweezers, but a bit bigger, with a serrated edge to crimp the edges, before they were cooked in the oven. Once the pork pies were cooked, I would punch a couple of holes in the pastry and pour in a meat jelly to make it moist and set around the meat.
"I remember going with Dad, and sometimes Grandad, to big cake making competitions like a commercial version of agricultural shows but for cakes. They were for commercial bakers and held in huge warehouses with rows and rows of trestle tables with white cloths on. There was a different table for each cake like cherry genoa, madeira, light/dark fruit cake. I used to love going along, as the judges would cut a slice off each cake and taste, sniff, rub it and make notes. I was fascinated. I know Grandad had entered in the past, as he was really an excellent cake maker. Whenever I made a cake for Grandad, who was a real stickler for quality, often I would make a Dundee cake. He would stare, sniff, and rub it for texture and then taste it!
"Grandad was a specialist renowned for his wedding cakes. He was a real expert. You don’t see it so much now, decorative icing. He could make cages and baskets in icing. Before a wedding cake went to a customer it would be set up in the bakery. Three tiers usually, with silk pillars and a model bride and groom on the top with decorative flowers cascading down. We made birthday cakes to order; both iced like a Christmas cake or with glace or chocolate icing. We sold all the decorations for people to do their own cakes, with bands for around cakes and Christmas decorations. We also made lots of smaller cakes. Old fashioned ones like custard tarts. One of my jobs was to fill them. The tart was made unbaked, then you poured in a jug of egg yolk and milk mixture. My job was to put the nutmeg on the top. We did tarts, jam, lemon curd, and strawberry ones in summer, with a lovely jelly glaze and a rim of cream. One lady used to buy the custard tarts because her dog liked the pastry! We did cream puffs or cream splits. These were a sweet dough with a split to fill in with cream and jam. Chocolate eclairs and also a big round shape like an eclair with a coffee icing called an elephant’s foot. Fondant fancies; little square things in beautiful frilly paper cases. They were a Victoria sponge with a jam filing but different icing colours and flavours. Lemon, pink one with strawberry juice and a chocolate one. Eccles cakes and chocolate truffles which were balls of chocolate rolled in vermicelli. Vanilla custard slice, Swiss rolls with jam and lemon curd or chocolate with vanilla filling. Cream and jam sponges. Chocolate cases with chocolate icing and a walnut on top. When we were very small Janet and I would remove the walnuts, given half the chance, I don’t know how much stock we messed up! I don’t remember the dolly blue in a muslin cloth to make the icing whiter. If there was, it would have been a special catering one, not the one for your laundry!
"We also made another sweet bread which was a plaited loaf. It was dough with sultanas, and it had icing poured all over it; delicious sliced and buttered. Our iced fingers were made in the same way. At Christmas we made Christmas cakes. When we were younger, Christmas holidays were a lot longer. Shops didn’t reopen on Boxing Day but may have stayed closed until the new year. We had queues out the front of the shop before it opened. Some would buy bread for several days. What Dad and Grandad did, was to make the bread longer keeping by adding extra fat and sugar. Funny story. We were next door to the Co-op and the butcher’s section was over a concrete fence at the back of our back yard. Bert was the manager and Jeff his assistant. They were run off their feet at Christmas and so were we. Jeff would pass me a huge parcel of bacon and sausages and my job was to get some of our bread rolls to make bacon and sausage butties to have on the hoof!
"I liked serving in the shop. You didn’t get paid, but it was still a village then, and you got to know the regulars. It was lovely when a customer wanted a selection of cakes to be put in a box for them. Mental arithmetic was critical, as it was an old-fashioned till with push down numbers, it didn’t add up for you! We sold all the cakes and bread and besides are own, some wanted Mother’s Pride, so we sold that too. There was just one gluten free loaf, even in those days, that dad made for a celiac customer. When people had not ordered enough bread or got to the shops in time on Sundays/Saturday evenings, they would come round the back asking for any bread left over or yesterday’s bread.
"If you stood in front of the shop, looking into the door, the window displays were just for cakes. The left-hand side of shop had shelving with wooden trays and loaves stacked on them, with spare ones at the back of shop until they were ready to sell. We had a counter behind another display area that also had cakes in it. We eventually got a chilled counter for cream cakes. There were two bay windows with the door in the middle. There was glass shelving on metal stands and cakes would be put on there, on these beautiful green trays, and displayed there. At right angles to the front of the shop was a marble topped counter with more display area underneath. Another counter ran parallel to the front windows with the meat slicer on and we stored cold meats there. There were shelves all around and we sold some groceries, like jams, teas and some tinned meats. Biscuits were loose in galvanised tins and they were mounted at a slight angle in a frame and sold by weight. People could buy a mixture. We also sold Ben Shaw’s lemonade, dandelion and burdock, cream soda and possibly raspberry too. Janet and I would have cream soda, in tall, fluted lager glasses, with a blob of vanilla ice cream on top and loved it. We sold cold meats loose and for sandwiches. We also bought in potted meat and salmon, in white ceramic dishes like a small soup plate. It was used in sandwiches or sold in chunks on greaseproof paper. The gollywogs on Robertsons jams you could collect for tin badges by sending off so many paper ones. Janet and I used to remove the paper one behind the labels and send them off!
"We had several ladies who worked in the shop. There was Dorothy who had a poodle called Binky, who loved the egg custards, and an older lady called Phyllis. Also, a couple of younger ladies. When we got a new shop assistant, the older ladies used to play a trick on them. If they were window dressing the glass shelves and stands in the window, they’d say there was not enough room for everything and will you go and ask Steve for a long stand. They would go to the bakery and say Mr Jagla can I have a long stand please? He’d say yes and then leave them there waiting for a long stand!! Similar joke being the fact that the weights were used to prop up displays and they would be told to go and ask for a big weight. Again, they would be stood around for a big wait!
"It was fun but hard work and impinged on socialising and I didn’t like getting up early. There was no privacy at home. We lived in the flat above and the kitchen and sitting room were downstairs. We had to share it with the shop staff for their tea breaks. It was fun to work there and be creative and eat! It was hard work, and we didn’t get out to play with friends as others would. It was an experience.
The shop was more fun and more social. I really wanted Dad and Grandad to make more of the business and market it better. I thought it would look really brilliant with some sepia tinted photos of the bakery with them in their bakery whites. It was all artisan bakery, old fashioned and done properly with no dodgy ingredients, but they weren’t keen on the idea. In fact, when the airport wanted contract work, we couldn’t do it with our limited capacity and oven space. Grandad worked in the bakery until about late morning/ lunchtime because he’d driven over from Old Trafford in Manchester, and we had several apprentices. It was a true family business.
"Janet and I both love baking. We were never taught. We just saw what was going on. I used to cook family meals quite a lot. Mum wasn’t a good cook. I was overweight at home! Mum would say she’d not had time to make tea, so get something from the shop. Ironically, I am now gluten and dairy free, so have to watch what I eat. I now make my own gluten free bread."
Janet's Memories of the Bakery
“My earliest memory of the bakery is me and my sister Margaret, sitting on the windowsill whilst our Dad and Grandad were kneading the dough. I was probably 3 or 4 years old. They would throw the dough, in measured amounts, into a machine and then form them into a loaf shape to pop into the tins. All bags of flour were stored upstairs in the bakehouse. They were the size of big potato sacks. I can also remember big tubs of cream there too. The ovens were kept going with coke, like a steam train having to be constantly fed. Dad was up early, around 4am, to get them stoked up. The coal bunker was round the side at the back. The only time they were switched off was on a Saturday and as the ovens cooled down the meringues were put in. There was a huge proving container, as big as a large fridge, and in the bottom a big bowl of boiling water was placed in it to create steam. There were always trays and trays of loaves proving in there. I am certain that when Dad used fondant icing for the little cakes, he would very quickly dip a dolly blue in muslin cloth into it, like you use to whiten shirts. It gave the icing a crisp, blue whiteness.
The shop counter was an L shape on the left and across the back. Here there was a window, not a serving hatch, into the living room behind the shop and the kitchen was there too. The counter had a piece of wood that once lifted you could walk through. There was a Peak Freans display cabinet, that’s probably worth a lot of money today.
"At Christmas Dad used to cook big turkeys for people who couldn’t put a huge bird in their own oven. There was a customer called Mr. Ibbotson who would bring in a massive turkey for Dad to roast. He would then give us one of the legs as part payment! Dad roasted his own hams to sell in the shop. Our iced fingers and floury baps were very popular. I have never tasted anything like that since and they always had to be buttered. We sold jam, bars of chocolate and tins of fruit too. I worked in the shop on a Saturday when I was older if they were busy.
"When I went to friend’s houses, they were always peaceful and quiet. We never had time to ourselves as there was always somebody coming into the living quarters at the back for their break.
"My Grandad was Scottish, and Dad never lost his accent.”
Fig. 6 Jean, Janet and Margaret outside the shop c.1962/63
© Janet Woolf
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Irene’s Memories of Living over the Shop
“I lived there from being born in 1961. Above the shop are two big windows and that was the bedroom that I shared with Janet. Margaret had her own bedroom at the back and Mum and Dad had the one behind ours. Everything was made in the bakehouse at the back. He used to roast his own hams and pork. At Christmas time people would bring in large joints for their Christmas meal and Dad would roast them. I remember one time we went to a house on Gleneagles, I must have been seven or eight, and we took a joint of meat there. The lady gave me 50p and I was over the moon!
D"ad was always up very early getting the ovens ready. We had deliveries that came to the bakehouse down the side of us and the shop next door. Lorries would deliver flour and coal. Big bags of flour had to be carried upstairs to the storeroom in the bakehouse.
"Dad had a Singer Gazelle car; 494 CFR. If it wouldn’t start, there was a crank to get it going. We would go to Formby on a Sunday and Dad would roast a chicken to take with us. I could smell it on the way there, even though it was in the boot. I still have the Tower dish that we used. We would take a tartan picnic rug and sit near the sand dunes and sometimes have a paddle in the sea.
"Dorothy worked in the shop for many years. She lived with her brother and his wife in Didsbury. She had a brown poodle, and she would knit doll’s clothes for me. Another lady called Vera lived with her husband off Outwood Road. Then there was Joan who lived on Peel Hall Road. Sue Barry worked for us for quite a while and now lives in Handforth.
"Mum died when I was 14 in 1975. Later, Dad started going dancing in Manchester again with his Polish friend Tony. It was here that he met Mary, a Maltese lady, and her cousin. She lived in Bredbury and went on to work in the shop occasionally. They would go out to Malta leaving Stan in charge. Mary was very good for him, as with working he had had no holidays really. It was a shame when Dad sold up to retire in 1987. He tried to sell it as a business but couldn’t. Stan, who used to work for my Dad and now has the Rolling Pin on Turves Road, bought a lot of fittings for his own shop. Dad remarried and went to live in Bredbury before they moved to Malta in 1993. It was beautiful where they were, and Dad died out there in 2012 at the age of 87. He is buried there too. He would have loved the sun."
Fig. 7 Stefan and Mary in the 1980s
© Janet Woolf
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In April 2022, I met up with Alan Meakin who used to work at Bill’s. This is what he told me.
“In 1969 I got a card to go to Bill’s Bakery at 256 Finney Lane as a bakery apprentice. I met Mr Munro and his son-in-law Steve Jagla. They offered me a job starting on Wednesday October 8th at 6.30am. My first job was loading dough into a machine, pulling a lever and out came twenty-four teacakes ready to roll out. It was very hot with the coal ovens. We had two huge mixers for making bread dough either white, Hovis or wholemeal loaves as well as barmcakes and scotch soft white rolls. All the meat came from Matthews butchers, where Bargain Booze is now on Finney Lane.
"The local bobby, Garth, would come in for a brew and a chat. Mr. Munro used to leave around 9.30am. He was in his late 70s. A nice man from Aberdeen who lived on St Johns Road in Whalley Range. He was a friend of Matt Busby who lived nearby.
"I cycled the two miles from Wythenshawe to work. If I had a problem, I would walk to the roundabout on Brownley Road (now traffic lights) where Mr. Munro would pick me up in his car. He had a beautiful 1950’s Rover 75. It had two tone green leather seats. He called it a poor man’s Rolls Royce!"
Fig. 8 Car outside the shop, c 1963
© Janet Woolf
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"Steve drove a two-tone Singer Gazelle and drove it to Poland in early 1969. His wife Jean became a close friend of my Mam. Jean slipped in the kitchen of the house carrying a tray and hit her head on the stove. Sadly, she was never the same afterwards. That upset my Mam. My future wife’s Uncle Jack was a plumber who did a lot of work for Steve. He never wanted money so Steve would give him a box of bread, cakes, and pies. He had eight children to feed.
"The bakehouse was at the back and had been a café in the 1930s. There is still a hoist on the outside of the building that was used to pull up the sacks of flour back in that era. Lorries would come down the passageway, between the shop and next door, to deliver goods to the bakehouse. I can remember Morley’s of Congleton delivering flour and the truck sank with the weight and was therefore stuck in the ginnel. A farmer from Daisy Bank farm had to pull it out with his tractor! Boyd’s creamery from Trafford Park would deliver big plastic jugs of egg wash.
"On a Saturday morning we worked from 5.30am until 11am. On Monday to Friday, it was 6.30am to 3pm. My wage was £5 3s 4d before deductions made it £4 11s 11d. By June 1970, I had bought myself a new Raleigh Runabout for £50, as they were being discontinued. It was 50cc, did 30mph and 130 miles to the gallon, and got me to work far quicker."
Fig. 9 & 10 Bakehouse and Passageway, 2021
© Helen Morgan
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"Two ladies worked in the shop. Dorothy came from Didsbury on the train and Irene lived in the Oval. She used to walk Steve’s youngest daughter Irene to school. I used to take a tray of barmcakes to the Heald Green Hotel when Mrs. Stockdale was the landlady. Most mornings I would get Steve an Express newspaper and a tin of ten Tom Thumb cigars. He used to like sitting outside the bakehouse having a drink, a smoke and reading his paper. He used to like listening to his Polish records.
"I left Bill’s in 1971 to go and work as a trainee butcher at Peter Carr’s Park Lane store in Poynton. His father-in-law was Mr. De Rooy who owned Mercury Market and he knew my parents. I remained in touch with Steve. Years later he told me he had met a lady from Malta and was going to retire. A man called Mr. Shaw, who had businesses on Minsterley Parade and Civic Centre, went to view the bakery with the intention of buying it. However, £30,000 would be required to update the premises, which was a lot of money. The shop was therefore sold and converted into FB3s, the card and balloon shop in 1987. The bakehouse became a gym.”
Fig. 11 Bill's Bakery Business Card
© Janet Woolf
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Just to confuse matters, in the early 1960s, the even numbered properties on Finney Lane began to change. This was due to the new shopping parades being built in the village. Therefore, Bill’s was no longer 144 but became 256 Finney Lane in 1963. The phone number also changed from GAT 2573; it had been that since the 1940s; to MER 2573 by 1960, and eventually became 437 2573.
Father-in-law John and Stefan worked together for many years in the Heald Green shop and are still remembered by many residents along with their fantastic baking.
"My nana bought all her bread from Bill’s. I used to love going with her and being allowed to choose from a selection of Corona “pop” and then returning the empty bottle next time for a 2p.”
- Caroline Dumville, Facebook, 2022
"I used to go to Bill’s for a dinner cob with butter and ham and occasionally a treat of their baked cheesecake for lunch.”
- Debra Whittaker, Facebook, 2022
"It was a lovely bakers. Nothing has ever compared to their baps. I loved their floury baps and always had them at the weekend for the stables, loved them.”
- Andrea Moulson, Facebook, 2022
"When I lived in Heald Green, one day a friend and I were going to have a picnic and had been given money to buy ourselves a cake each. As we were leaving Bill’s, a shelf in the window fell and there were a lot of very squashed cakes! The lovely lady called us back and gave them to us. It was a feast I will never forget.”
- Steve Yates, Facebook, 2022
"Oh I loved Bill’s the Bakers! What a fantastic little shop that was!”
- Amanda Bate, Facebook, 2022
"Best fresh warm bread on a Saturday morning.”
- Joan Sharp, Facebook, 2022
"I remember collecting my bread order on a Saturday in the 70s.”
- Eileen Weaver, Facebook, 2022
"Bill’s to me meant homemade bread. They sold their strong flour and fresh yeast. When they stopped trading, I stopped making bread. I couldn’t get on with dry yeast. Happy days, my boys loved making different shaped bread and the smell in my kitchen was yummy. It was because of them I made my own hot cross buns and other yeast products. Their bread products were the best.”
- Barbara Harris, Facebook, 2022
"Bill’s baps were our favourite. Much better than Herd’s!”
- Heather Tiffany Bailey, Facebook, 2022
"Lived in Heald Green all my life. I remember Bill’s the Bakers, loved their barmcakes and potted beef.”
- Julie McCarthy, Facebook, 2022
"I remember as a young boy, telling the man who was in charge of all the baking, that my parents had recently taught me how to bake bread and asked him for any tips. He had just started to bake/sell wholemeal bread which was what I made.
"We shared ideas and improved each other’s products. He was a very warm, kind and friendly person who I am sure is missed greatly by many people. I always enjoyed visiting his shop. All the staff had great interpersonal skills that are sadly lacking in most of the shops I visit today."
Janet asked whether he was talking about her Dad or Grandad?
"Probably both. They were incredibly nice, kind and above all patient. They always had and made time for everyone. Qualities that are sadly lacking in most shops today. The customer service that was available in Bill’s, in my honest opinion, was only available in one other shop at the time, Marks and Spencer, and that vanished towards the mid-80s. Roast ham to die for, I so wish Bill’s was still there.”
- Martin Philips, Facebook, 2022
What a fitting way to end this article. Even after all these years Bill’s Bakers is still remembered as a shop of quality and good service. For me it will always be their iced fingers, buttered of course! The Jagla sisters should be very proud.
Fig. 11 Bill's Baker shop and bakehouse location, 2021
© Colin Barnsley
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