Tributes pour in for Northampton's best-known bakery - that just didn't move with the times

Tributes have been pouring in from Oliver Adams customers this week as Northampton folk waved goodbye to a baking dynasty.

Thursday, 6th April 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:02 pm
Lawrence's Coffee Shop in St Giles closed with the rest of the Oliver Adams brand on Friday.

Managing director of Montague Jeffery in St Giles, Jonathan Williams, has been getting his breakfast at nearby Lawrence’s coffee shop for decades and remembers his mother taking him in there 27 years ago.

But this week the fine suit seller was lamenting the loss of one of Northampton’s iconic brands.

“I think it’s just such a tragic shame,” he said.

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“They just haven’t changed pace with today’s modern environment.

“There was too much competition in the high street.

“They just did nothing different, so it was inevitably going to happen.”

Mr Willams’ sentiments were echoed by hundreds of Chron readers this week.

Bakers at work in an Oliver Adams bakery

Rosemary Twelftree, 67, of Billing Road East had been gong into Lawrence’s since the 1960s and fondly remembers peering into the shop to look at all the cakes on offer on her way home from school.

Reader Tracey Bushell, said: “So sad, in days gone by I remember queuing down the Gladstone Road on a Saturday morning with my nan to get fresh bread.

Matt Magee added that the cakes “were the best around and reasonably priced.”

However, like many others he felt the produce remained at a higher price than other high street bakeries - namely the food giant Greggs.

From our archive: Oliver Adams accuses supermarkets of cheating shoppers in Northampton bread war in February 1999

Director Mark Jarvis’s pledge to change the produce on offer last year never fully materialised.

There are also dozens of people who have ordered speciality cakes in the past few weeks whose orders, and money, is now lost.

Holly Archer ordered a £16.50 cake she hoped would be ready for her daughter’s birthday tomorrow.

She said: “What a disgrace taking money for orders of special occasion cakes knowing there decline was imminent. And how many other people have been ripped off by Oliver Adams in this way.

From our archive: One of Oliver Adams' famous celebratory cakes

“I feel hurt by this very much, I don’t have a lot of money, I work hard and have very little still. My daughter who’s birthday is this Friday wanted a lovely cake with her name on it.”

The closure on Friday ends a 161 year affinity between the Adams family and baking in Northampton.

In 1856 a 16-year-old Thomas Adams moved from Flore to become a master baker in Northampton.

The firm became known for its artistry in producing celebratory cakes and once created a special cake bearing 400 candles to celebrate 400 years of stately grandeur at Holdenby House.

The Gladstone Road bakery, opened in August 1976, featured a cash and carry department and supplied hotels and other large establishments.

The closure means uncertainty for a long list of creditors the firm owed money to at the time of going under on Friday.

From our archive: Staff at the Shire Lodge bakery raised money for a respiration monitor alarm in 1986

Though the outlet in Mercers Row appears to be trading as an Oliver Adams, it has in fact been taken over by Bakery Organic and it is understood the new owners will change the branding of the building.

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Bakers at work in an Oliver Adams bakery
From our archive: Oliver Adams accuses supermarkets of cheating shoppers in Northampton bread war in February 1999
From our archive: One of Oliver Adams' famous celebratory cakes
From our archive: Staff at the Shire Lodge bakery raised money for a respiration monitor alarm in 1986