A BAKER is celebrating 30 years at the helm of one of East Lancashire's best-known bakeries.

Bill Oddie, 76, managing director of Oddie's, which has a baker's dozen of outlets across the region, took the reins from his dad Jack in 1988 and has steered 113-year-old firm through the choppy waters of the recession.

Founded by Bill’s grandfather, William Henry Oddie, the first shop opened in Colne in 1905, and it then passed to Jack who ran the company for decades before it passed to Bill in 1988.

And he reflected on the tough and changing times his business has undergone.

He said: “The recession hit us very hard, it was like turning a tap off after the crash. It took us five years to recover. It was a rough ride but throughout that time our staff, some who have worked at Oddie’s for 30 years, were superb."

As for the technology, Bill said: “The biggest change was the modernisation of equipment, before that most of the jobs were done by hand.

“We had long wooden tables with giant sheets of pastry, and they’d slice the pastry into shapes with big cutters.

“It was tough graft. My grandad mixed the dough by hand, and the only mechanical machine we had was an oven.

“We can make 4-5,000 pies an hour now.”

He added that there are still certain products that are hand crafted, like the scrumptious Eccles cake.

He said: “The fruit is put on top by hand and folded up. There’s a special way of doing it, and a lot of the recipes are top secret!

“Fads come and go, but the favourites today were the favourites 50 years ago: plain teacakes, oven bottoms, fresh cream cakes, hot cross buns, sausage rolls and mince pies.

“Supermarkets can’t beat us for freshness and the customers know that.

“I’m so proud, the way that generations of families across East Lancashire have entrusted Oddie’s to craft pastries and cakes for a century, and the way that they have supported us.

“We still get folk phoning us up to ask if we are open at dinner time or and if we close on Tuesday for a half a day, (the old Burnley and Nelson early closing day) and I think that’s lovely.

“My motto is keep it local, keep it Oddie’s and savour the difference.”