One of Henley’s institutions, Lawlor’s the Bakers, are turning off their ovens for the last time on Saturday (16 January) due to impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns this year on the business.
The current partners in the business Anne Baker and Mike Lawlor are very upset at having to close due to the current climate of Covid-19 lockdown of the pubs which is the main source of their business. Anne said, “We’re very sad to be closing and not being able to continue to supply all the loyal customers that we have been lucky enough to have over the years.”
The business was started by John Lawlor in Hampstead, London in 1948 before moving to Henley in 1956 to Warner’s bakers at 14 Reading Road (former In the Groove record shop). In the 1960s, they had a second retail shop in Duke Street. This was bought by WH Smith and so they moved to Market Place where Crockers now is. In 1972, Lawlor’s Market Place closed and for about the next 10 years they operated from only the Reading Road site. The last shop they had in town was in Market Place Mews until 2006. They have operated from Empstead Works, off Greys Road since then, mainly supplying local shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes.
Mike and Anne are very grateful for the support of Chris and Nicola, Anne’s son and daughter, who have been major players in providing the marvellous bread and cakes that have formed the basis of their business success along with Nick Baker, David Evans and Gilly Crook who have been much valued members of the team.
Chris Baker started a pop-up bakery from his home in Elizabeth Road during the first lockdown which proved really popular and long queues of people were seen waiting to collect their bread and naughty treats. These included their legendary lardy cake, doughnuts, hot cross buns, cinnamon swirls and iced buns to name just a few.
Carol at The Corner Shop in Shiplake who sell Lawlor’s bakery products said, “We were very sad to hear that Lawlor’s were closing, they have supplied us for 16 years and our predecessor before us. The village will miss their lardy cakes, though their waistlines might not. We wish the older members of the family a happy retirement and hope the younger members move on to something equally fulfilling.”
Mark Dunlop landlord at The Angel on the Bridge said, “Annie and her daughter Nicola have supplied us at The Angel on the bridge with all my bread products over the past 14 years. During that time we have had exceptional service and high quality freshly baked bread and burger buns delivered 6 days a week. Their white bloomers, whole meal & granary loaves have been highly praised by our customers over the years for freshness, flavour and their lovely texture. During the summer months, bank holidays and Regatta week when demand is high and orders can exceed 150 loaves & 300 burger buns weekly, either Annie or Nicola would always deliver early in the morning still warm, with a cheery smile so we’d be ready for lunch service. This is a truly sad loss to Henley and the surrounding community who have enjoyed our local baker’s products for over 70 years and leaves a large hole to fill. I’m sure this has been a very difficult decision for the Lawlor family to and we all wish them our very best for the future. ”
Anne added, “It has been a good and interesting life in the bakery and we feel privileged to have had so many marvellous customers.”