Letchworth history: The story of Nott's Bakery
Sophie Baxter-Jones, museum assistant
- Credit: Garden City Collection
Museum assistant Sophie Baxter-Jones explores the history of Nott's Bakery, which was open for nearly 60 years and is one of the shops which features in the Garden City Collection.
One of our current displays at the micro-museum focuses on the rich history of Letchworth’s shops. Today I’d like to explore the history of one of Letchworth’s shopping staples - Nott’s Bakery.
In March 1907, just a week after he married his wife, Fred Nott opened Nott’s Bakery in Leys Avenue. In the beginning, Fred would deliver the bread himself with a basket on his bicycle – Mrs. V Aylwin Cave claimed to remember his first delivery round on March 3.
Within just five years, Nott’s Bakery had opened another two branches – one in Eastcheap, and another on Hitchin’s Brand Street – and had won over 70 awards for its bread and confectionery.
Five years after that, in 1918, Nott won the Confectionery Championship Cup of the London Exhibition and a further ten medals. By 1957, the small shop in Leys Avenue had grown into a chain of 11 shops (two each in Letchworth, Hitchin, and Luton, and one each in Baldock, Ampthill, Hertford, Bedford, and Biggleswade), two halls (Icknield Halls in Letchworth and Hermitage Halls in Hitchin), and a fleet of delivery vans, including 10 mobile shops.
In 1958, Nott’s joined with the Allied Bakery Group, which increased the number of its associated shops to 33, but moved production away from Letchworth to Welwyn and Bedford.
As a result, 120 employees of Nott’s Bakery in Letchworth had their final annual dinner and dance on October 6, 1966, and the bakery closed the next week, on October 15. However, “even with all this expansion”, claimed one article, “the policy of Fred Nott has been continued – to give the customer good quality and good value”.
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To see more photos of Nott’s Bakery – and take in the smells of its award-winning bread – come see us at the Museum at One Garden City!