Fosters Bakery has been a family owned business since 1952 when Emily Foster and her daughter Betty first opened a transport café in a disused blacksmith’s shop in the tiny Yorkshire village of Mapplewell.
Baking was Emily’s speciality and with one domestic gas oven she could bake two loaves at a time. There was no big entrepreneurial dream for Emily, just a desire to bake the best food and serve it with as much friendliness as it was possible to give, an ethos still to be found in the company today.
As her baking became more popular she added a further oven and expanded capacity to near bursting point until September 1959 when the limited company was founded and a new bakery built on Blacker Road, Mapplewell. Emily was joined around this time by her family: husband Arthur, son Donald and daughter Audrey. Very shortly the company had a mobile shop, which stood on Barnsley’s famous Market Hill, three days a week. With the acquisition of two other bakeries in Barnsley the company expanded its number of shops and, through recommendation the number of commercial accounts also grew.
In 1971 the bakery moved to its current location on Towngate, Mapplewell. This bakery was expanded in 1980, again in 1990 and again in 1997 when a further warehouse was opened at Mapplewell Business Park, some 500 metres away. In 1999 the company started its first subsidiary, Wellfoods, to sell specialist gluten free baked products.
Fosters now operates three manufacturing units and a frozen store facility. It’s a manufacturing bakery supplying commercial accounts with fresh and frozen baked goods. Customers include major airlines, well known retail chains and caterers throughout Britain and Europe.
Many of the top people in the company have made it by starting at the bottom. Sales Director William (Bill) Finnerty started at the age of 14 as a van driver’s assistant and Directors John Foster and Ian Taylor are both grandchildren of Emily Foster. Mark (Betty’s Son) is also in the business arranging despatch of our frozen deliveries and production scheduling.
In the late 1990s Fosters gained no fewer that 5 Golden Wheat Sheaf Awards, the baking industry Oscars, and, since then, has won numerous awards and recognitions for its approach to recruitment, diversity, training and apprenticeships.
In 2009 managing director John Foster was named Food Personality of the Year in the Food Manufacture Awards. John Foster was Awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University in November 2010 and was awarded an MBE in the 2011 New Years Honours.
In 2012 the business celebrated its diamond jubilee (60 years since Emily first opened the cafe) His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, The Duke of York presented the company with a certificate as this coincided with the Queen’s diamond jubilee year.
Compulsory purchase to make way for Barnsley Town Centre redevelopment saw the closure of the two Barnsley town centre shops.
Fosters is still a Family Bakery
Many of the people in these photographs still work at Fosters Bakery or their children work here. Eric Bailey retired a few years ago, his son Stuart is one of our senior delivery staff. Margaret Chilton retired a few years ago, her daughter Christine works in our sales office. Tom Allott is a senior member of our Technical Team and his two daughters, Rachel and Sarah work in the Fosters confectionery department. Donald Foster’s son is Managing Director, John Foster. Audrey Taylor’s son is Ian Taylor, Purchasing Director. John Widdowson’s son, Mark Widdowson, makes sure that our frozen goods get despatched and delivered to customers correctly. Pete Raybould works in Fosters confectionery department and his son Lee is a bread baker at Fosters too. It’s a family bakery in more ways than one.