The WARING Family Bakery
How it all began – 1932
Lawrence Webster Waring
Warings Craft Bakers is a small family business started in 1932 by Lawrence Webster Waring. The business continues to uphold its traditional family values and baking techniques with two grandchildren and a fourth generation of the family all involved.
Lawrence moved to Reading from Yorkshire in 1928 where he used to work for the world-famous ‘Betty’s of Harrogate’ to take up the position of Works Manager at Harris’ Bakery in Reading town centre.
It is thought that before long Lawrence fell out with the owner of Harris’ during a large argument and at this time was told “there isn’t enough room in this town for the both of us” and “to get out and not come back”.
This argument prompted Lawrence to look for premises and start his own business. At first, renting a bakery in Weldale Street before meeting Arthur Newbury, a prominent businessman in Reading at the time, who rented him a property in Armour Road, Tilehurst which became the family home and premises of the bakery in 1932 which he called ‘The Cake Shop’.
Where it all began
The business originally started at the back of the family home in Armour Road, baking fresh daily by hand (which we still do to this day) before delivering it by bike to the local community. The business continued to grow with the purchase of its first van that enabled the family to deliver further afield and carry many more baked goods. Interestingly, at this time it was not considered important to have a high street shop due to all the bread being delivered direct to the customer’s door.
However, we’re not exactly sure when, Alice Louisa Waring, more affectionately known as ‘Louie’, Lawrence’s wife, decided to start selling the bread from the family home. Customers would let themselves in through the front door, stroll down the hallway and turn into the front room where two small counters were set up from which the bread was sold. To this very day, we still trade from the original family home in Armour road, although you would be hard-pressed to recognise it.
Evolution of Warings
Generations of Bakers
Lawrence & Louie had six children; Enid, Marie, Joan, Nora, David & Sydney who all at different times growing up worked at the bakery but it was Sydney who returned to the business.
Sydney had worked in the bakery ever since he was a small boy using an orange crate to reach the table and work the dough by hand with his dad. Syd left the business after an argument (we’re starting to notice a theme here!) and returned only after Lawrence agreed to retire and let him run the business.
Warings remained a small business in Tilehurst until 1978 when it acquired another shop called ‘Philpotts Stores’ in Spencers Wood. The premises featured a small bakery to the rear and at this time it was decided to split production over the two sites with cakes & pastries being produced in Tilehurst and the bread at Spencers Wood.
The next few years saw the business continue to grow with Janet, Syd’s daughter joining the business. Janet joined the company covering holidays and working weekends in the shop before leaving school at fifteen and completing her City & Guilds in baking and a night school in sugarcraft.
On Syd’s retirement, Janet took the position of Managing Director and has steadily grown the business to six shops with all the baking now under one roof, extending the bakery at Spencers Wood to accommodate the extra production. Janet continues to be found in the bakery ensuring our high standards are achieved and her husband Steve, who she met in the bakehouse, is our Bread Bakery Manager with over 45 years continuous service.
In 1983, Alan, Syd’s son joined the business as a baker and today is a director alongside Janet and is still baking, delivering, and looks after the maintenance of our shops and equipment. Alan’s wife, Genia spent over 15 years working in the office alongside Janet and helping in the shops, and assisting with our home deliveries at peak times.
Family has been at the core of everything we do and an ethos we live by today. You’ll find us working side by side with our colleagues who are like our extended family and just as the generations before us, you’ll find family members involved in all corners of the business whether it be baking, working in the shops, delivering bread, office duties or general maintenance!
Keeping It In The Family
Despite our growth, we remain a family business. Daniel, Janet’s son joined the business in 2003 following in his mum’s footsteps, working in the shops before eventually moving to the office. Leah, Alan’s daughter joined the business in 2010 as a confectioner and is responsible for our new product development and finally, Tom, Janet’s youngest son joined the business in 2017 as a delivery driver after Mick, Syd’s son-in-law retired after 40 years.
Our shops are still found at the heart of local communities in villages around Reading. We pride ourselves on producing high-quality products, the traditional way by our own craft bakers fresh for you every day.
Best bakery in Berkshire
We are immensely proud of our heritage and achievements and none more so than being crowned England’s Most Loved Bakery during the inaugural Craft Bakers’ Week. Customers praised Warings Bakery for the high quality of our cakes and bakes and for the fantastic range available – alongside the excellent service of the hardworking staff. Votes for Warings Bakery also included a nomination from a customer that has been shopping with us for over 70 years.
However, our most memorable awards are a little closer to home and marked a fantastic year for the bakery, starting with the prestigious Pride of Reading Award for Business in Action, recognising our continued support of local communities, charity fundraising events, and donations both local & national followed a few months later with the highest accolade of Retailer of the Year at the Reading Retail Awards.
We continue to champion Craft baking, shopping local, and independent retailing and were thrilled to receive a Highly Commended at the UK’s Best Small Shops Competition and more recently South East winner and County winner at National Bakery Awards 2019 & 2020.