Family bakery in Wick shuts down after 83 years

Sarah Biggs, Philip Biggs and Mark Biggs. Photo by Derek Martin Photography
Sarah Biggs, Philip Biggs and Mark Biggs. Photo by Derek Martin Photography

When Arthur William and Lilian Biggs opened their bakery on August 4, 1935, little did they know it would be open for 83 years.

After taking over the family business in 2009, their great-grandson Mark Biggs, 34, decided to close Biggs Bakery in Wick Street, Wick, on July 21. He will honour all existing celebration cake orders.

The bakery celebrated its 80th birthday in 2015.

He said: “It is the hardest decision I have had to make.

“The customers have dwindled down. The increase of people changing their shopping habits means people go into supermarkets rather than their local shop.”

Originally opened as a bakers, confectioners and tea rooms, the building was a purpose built bake house and the only equipment was the oven and a machine to make cakes. The bread dough was made by hand in bread troughs at 3.30am.

A.W. Biggs would then go round the houses with his hand drawn cart to sell bread to customers.

In 1939 the Second World War started, which meant the bakers were called up for duty and women took the place of men.

In 1950 the Wick shop was selling over a thousand loaves a week and 100 apple tarts a day. Sacks of flour came in 280-pound bags and the bakery was using 38 to 40 a week. They also had a store in Bayford Road, Littlehampton for 12 years.

In 1991, a time capsule explaining the history of the baking trade in Wick was put inside an old side flue oven by Mark’s grandfather amid modernisations – and in 2003, the name changed to Biggs Bakery. Mark’s father Philip, 66, who worked in the bakery for five decades, will now be having a well-earnt retirement.

The shop’s closure sparked sadness among the community. Tyndall Jones, from High Street, Littlehampton, has been buying bread from the shop for more than 60 years, since he was a boy.

He said: “It is a great shame, but it is symptomatic of what’s happening on the high street.”