Baker's ovens turned off after 136 years
After 60 years, it's finally time for Roger Spires to take a holiday.
Last Saturday saw the last fresh bread and sweet pastries sold at Spires Bros Bakery, the family business which has been operating in Peterborough for 136 years.
Roger is the fourth generation of his family to have run the bakery at the Triangle off Bourges Boulevard in New England, but having started helping out with the business aged five, he is looking forward to finally having a break to enjoy his first holiday.
Roger and wife Lynda (63), who served the customers, now plan to tour Britain with a caravan.
“We are just retiring. I got to 65 and had just had enough,” said Roger, who was born in the flat above the bakery. “I want to do things and I’ve never had a holiday.
“I’m pleased this is over really, we’ve got past the sadness. But it was difficult to stop - we’ve got a lot of customers. There’s one chap who’s 85, he’s been coming in since he was a little boy.”
Lynda said: “There’s a chap from Whittlesey and one from Hunstanton. Every time he comes to see his grandson he comes in.
“They all think it’s sad but they understand we need a bit of a life.”
Customers walking into the shop were full of praise for Roger and Lynda as they placed their orders, and there was genuine disappointment when they realised that the reason for the media presence was to pay tribute to the end of an era in Peterborough.
Jamaal Sikander said he was sad to hear Roger and Lynda were retiring and described the food as “nice” and “fresh.”
Gary Scotcher, who works nearby, said: “It’s a great little bakery and the people have been friendly. It’s a shame it’s going.”
Roger’s life since leaving school has been 4am starts and working Mondays to Saturdays non-stop.
“I don’t know what it’s like not working,” he said. “You wonder what it’s going to be like.”
Spires has served the Great Northern Hotel and the Peterborough Greyhound Stadium, but changes to the road outside the shop have made business a bit trickier in the past five years.
“Before they did this road we had builders queuing up,” said Lynda. Roger added: “It gets increasingly difficult to keep the place going. We used to be incredibly busy.”
The furthest Roger has been from home is Ireland, when he slipped away one Saturday evening with Lynda, enjoyed a couple of pints of Guinness, then came home on the Sunday.
And the couple both look back with fondness at their many years at the bakery and the ‘lovely people’ they have served.
Roger said: “We’ve just had some good laughs and some nice customers.” Lynda added: “It’s sad to say goodbye to everybody.”