Popular Longton bakery to close on Christmas Eve after 36 years of trading
A popular village bakery will be closing for good this Christmas as the owners retire.
Martin and Barbara Swarbrick will be selling their last 'wet nelly' (vanilla slice) and courting cake (jam slice) at The Croft Bakery in Liverpool Road, Longton, on Christmas Eve, having opened on February 3, 1985.
The couple swapped their bungalow in Hoole for the business, which was a closed-down pie shop, and extended the premises front and back to run a catering business as well as take-out shop.
Apart from doughnuts, Martin, 73, cooks all of the produce on site from scratch, and Barbara serves in the shop and does the admin.
They usually welcome 80 to 100 people through the door every day, with lasagne and jam slices among the most popular items.
They had hoped to sell the business and attached three-bedroomed home, but could not secure a deal. They will now look to sell the equipment to the industry while they consider options for the building.
Martin said: "It's heartbreaking, but you get to an age where you really have to give up.
"I was willing to stay on for a couple of months and help the new owner get to grips with how things are made, but after getting three people interested, nothing has come of it, and we've got to make a decision.
"Come Christmas Eve I don't know how I'll feel. I'll be upset I'm sure, but I might be relieved too. It's long hours for a 73 year old."
The trained chef, who has also been a lorry driver, often works from 5am to 5pm making the products, which range from curries to pies, to biscuits, bread, chips, sandwiches, lasagnes and cheesecakes.
Barbara said: "It's quite unique what we offer. Everything is made by Martin apart from the doughnuts.
"We've done catering for people's Christenings, weddings and funerals. We've been a real part of the village and I've loved every minute of it.
"We've met some fabulous people and staff as well, and we couldn't have done it without Martin's mum and my mum and dad in the early days."
Martin added: "It's been nice making people happy, we've had some good fun and cracking staff, and we've catered all over the place.
"Most of our customers are now friends and some people even travel from Southport and East Lancs just to get bread."
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