Woods Bakers and Cafe.

A photographic mystery

For a long while the Archive has been trying to find some photos of a building which used to be in the Village. It was known as Woods or, later, Wally Brown’s bakers and cafe. The pictures we have of the Village showed no house where the bakers should be or the photos it might have been in we couldn’t have seen it because it was hidden behind the Village Pump with its thatched roof. This meant it was difficult to try and get a rough idea of when it was built and more recently when it was demolished. And demolished it was because there’s a gap between the houses where it used to stand.

The Bakery which could or could not be obscured by the Village Pump in the 1900s.

Now we have some answers mainly thanks to the photos we’ve rescued from the Echo Newspaper Archive in which there were a couple clearly showing the bakers. We now think the house was probably built around 1900 and it was demolished in the mid 1970s.

We were told two very interesting things in an interview with the local builder Roger Thipthorp, now recently deceased, and who used to live in Haven Road. The Local Council ordered the bakers to be pulled down because it was suffering badly from subsidence. Roger also told us that he salvaged roof and floor joists and the roof tiles from the house. He then used these when building himself a new home in Station Road. This house can still be seen from Somnes Avenue. An early case of recycling!

1974 shortly before demolition with, we think, Lily Hart in the foreground.

The last known image of the bakers looking very un-cared for is in a photo dated 1974 and has a lady in the foreground who could be Lilly Hart.

A sad end for a business which flourished for nearly 70 years but a satisfactory conclusion to a photographic mystery.

In the Model Village before it was vandalised beyond repair in the mid – 70s.

Wally Brown’s was also clearly featured in Canvey’s Model Village which stood near the Labworth until it was sadly vandalised beyond repair in 1976 and then removed altogether several years later.

2017 The gap where the bakery once stood.

Now when you look at the gap where the bakers once stood you wonder how there was ever enough space to build a dwelling let alone a business!

Comments about this page

  • Interesting article but there is no shop in the top photo.

    By John (20/04/2017)
  • Good observation John obviously Wood’s bakery was slotted in after this photo was taken.

    What is surprising that a bakery business could be run in such a small building, especially as at that time there were no services (electricity etc) on the Island. My Dad, Aubrey used to recall that as a boy (1920s) he remembered them going across to the pump to fetch water for dough-making. The only conclusion is that most of the bakery operation must have taken place in some sort of lean-to at the rear; no machinery, doughs mixed by hand (arms actually) and a small but commercially viable oven with a furnace fired by coke. I don’t think a faggot oven would have been appropriate on Canvey (not enough wood available) pun unintended. There must have been enough yard to accommodate piles of coke and cinders as I know from our own bakery firing coke ovens is a 24hr procedure.

    Of course this is all pure supposition, I’m only going on the example of my late Uncle Eddy’s business in Godalming, Surrey which occupied a building of the same dimensions. They lived there as a family with three small children.

    By Graham Stevens (23/04/2017)
  • Plans for this shop were approved March 1903. As well as the shop downstairs which was a single room and self contained. The first floor contained two bedrooms which were an addition to the building to its left. The owner was Mrs HAYES, who owned the whole corner, Architect W.H. GREGSON (another famous Canvey man) and the builder OGRAM.I too reason that any baking must have been done elsewhere in the adjacent properties or around the back.

    By Martin Lepley (30/08/2018)
  • Yes! That is Lily Hart, my grandmother. Thank you, this is the only picture i have of her. Memories have flooded back on seeing it. Whole summers spent with her on their smallholding on Kent’s Hill Road

    By Antony Hart (21/07/2021)
  • George Woods (baker/confectioner) was the brother of James Woods who operated the Post Office/Village right next door. It’s possible James gave some rooms to his brother’s family – James and his wife only had one child, whereas George and his wife had several. James Woods is my great-great-grandfather, so I have spent a lot of time looking at old pictures of the Village!

    By Kirsty (28/06/2022)

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