Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The history of Kristy's Bakery, Swansea: bombs, presidents and pies!

At Kristy's Bakery we are bakers, not historians.

However, having been a staple Swansea bakery for almost 80 years, we've decided it would be a good idea to briefly share the story of how the bakery came to be.

The bakery on Eversley Road, as it looks today

It all started in 1933, when Alice Marjorie Taylor - with help from her sister Kathleen - opened a small bakery and cafe on St Helen's Road, Swansea. Their popular shop sold bread, cakes and pies - the same recipes we use today. Among the bakery's early customers, it is believed that a young Dylan Thomas used to visit the original cafe back in the mid-thirties.

Alice continued to build her new venture for a few years until war broke out and the bakery was tragically bombed. But this didn't spell the end of Kristy's, with the sisters opening a new bake-house in Alexandra Road.

But unfortunately their bad luck continued and the Alexandra Road bakery soon became another casualty of bomb damage, forcing them to change premises once again. So, in the early 1940s, the sisters made their final move to Eversley Road in Sketty, where the bakery now sits. They took over one shop (formerly a hairdressers), before expanding into a neighbouring shoe factory.

The Taylor sisters eventually parted ways - one moved to Dukesbury, while the other stayed in Swansea.

Eversley Road in the 1960s. The bakery is on the left hand side of the street.

Jumping ahead, in 1955 a 15-year-old apprentice called Alan Jenkins joined the staff. The keen youngster forged a career in baking and remained with Kristy's for twenty years, eventually taking over as owner in 1975.

His craftsmanship has pleased hundreds of customers over the years, including former US president Jimmy Carter who enjoyed Kristy's handmade truffles when he visited Swansea in 1995.

Alan is now 75 and still enjoys helping out at the bakery today.

Alan in the bakehouse as a young man.

In 1997 Alan sold the bakery to the current owner and head baker, Antonio Carra. Despite having more than 20 years of culinary experience at the time - running restaurants in Italy, England, Wales and Canada - Antonio was less familiar with the world of baking.

But he relished the new challenge and soon learned the trade, before adding his own twist by introducing traditional Italian breads, cakes and pasta sauces to the shop - including focaccia, pizzas, cannoli and panettone. He also began the trend of chocolate wedding cakes in Swansea, and to this day remains one of the most skilled in the business.

Antonio with his 2014 Christmas charity creation (photo: South Wales Evening Post)

Over the years Antonio, working alongside Alan, has sent 'Swansea Pies' to Russia, cakes to America, Christmas puddings to Australia and wedding cakes to France. They even sent 400 Welshcakes over to the Shetland Islands! Antonio also once made a chocolate wedding cake for the daughter of film star Paul Newman, and received complements from the actor himself.

The reason the bakery is called Kristy's remains a mystery...

So now you know some of the bakery's eventful history. Keep checking back, because we will try to fill in the gaps as we discover them. And if you know something we don't please, please, please get in touch!

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