Saxby Bros Ltd
The company began as a butchery in 1904, by brothers Herbert and Ted Saxby, who both opened a shop in Midland Road. Pies were handmade above the shop, and various meats were prepared in the kitchen at the back. Herbert would catch the 3.17 am train to buy pigs at Smithfield Market in London at dawn, ensuring he returned on time to Wellingborough to open the shop at 9 am.
Home deliveries were carried out using a pony and trap to customers who were unable to visit their shop. They both saved enough money to purchase the vacant land next door, where a small bakery and extended butchery was constructed which joined alongside. A veal and ham pie would sell for a shilling; an individual pork pie cost tuppence.
The brothers relocated production and opened their first factory in 1912 at Brook Street East, half-a-mile down the road, where 12 workers were employed. By 1921, a pig abattoir and a sausage department were constructed. When the business began, the brothers butchered ten pigs a week. That had risen to 500 by the time Saxby's celebrated their golden jubilee. From 1938, the company expanded six times – fifty years later in 1988, HRH Diana, Princess of Wales officially opened an £8 million extension and office block.
Saxby's exploited other markets, and found a gap by making chilled pastry, which began in 1962. These were sold as separate products, so consumers could bake their own pies at home. Saxby's pies were made to a secret recipe, and took part at the East of England Showground, the Ideal Home Exhibition and other outdoor events, which resulted winning more than 100 national prizes, and also held major contracts with the leading supermarkets. Pies have also been sold in Rackhams of Birmingham, Harrods, Selfridges, and Fortnum & Mason in London.
Saxby's had a vast fleet of vans and delivery lorries, and travelled to small towns and villages to sell their products, especially to customers who were isolated. In 1994, Saxby's implemented a food service range under the Irchester Grange label. These were vacuumed-packed pies and pastries which were sold to the commercial sector, such as British Rail and British Airways.
Saxby's won customers across the globe, exporting its products to South Africa, Malaysia and the West Indies. In 2001, the company opened the Innovation Centre, which was dedicated to improving their product range. It had 14 shops across Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire and three in Wellingborough alone. In 2002, Saxby's closed their last shop at the Swansgate Centre in Wellingborough, due to competition from the supermarket chains.
Saxby Bros held their centennial in 2004. It was celebrated by a book being published, and gifts were handed to their employees.
In 2005, Saxby's was acquired by General Mills, the parent company of Jus-Rol, who obtained the pastry sector of the business. Coincidentally, Saxby's announced that it was to end production of baked goods in Wellingborough. Pie and meat production ceased due to increased competition and poor sales. There were 325 members of staff employed; 200 redundancies were planned, 125 staff remained.
In 2008, the pastry sector was transferred to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, resulting the remaining staff redundant. The Saxby's Chester Road site was closed to production; it has been demolished, and the land is currently being redeveloped for housing. The Saxby's brand has disappeared from supermarket shelves, ending a part of Northamptonshire's heritage and history.
Saxby's 'Resurrected' as Bakeaway
On 25 November 2011, a new pastry company, Bakeaway, was created by former Saxby's Director Bill Saxby and Managing Director Brian Homewood. The new £2 million factory is based at Corby in Northamptonshire. The company was awarded a contract with Sainsburys, leading to the creation of 40 jobs, and was formally opened by former Conservative Corby MP Louise Mensch.
- Planning application for housing on the former Chester Road site - wellingborough.gov.uk PDF: