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How It All Began
Like many places, when the pandemic hit, Haddie and Trilby on Regent Street in Leamington Spa had to shut their doors. Despite thriving on the daily chats with customers, owner George Casey got his team together to discuss what to do. His options - close, potentially forever, or try to find a way to continue.
“We went online. I took a picture of a loaf and posted it on the website, the next day I sold one. And the orders kept coming. By July and August the queue was round the block. I decided to pull the plug on spontaneity, deal mainly with online orders, with only some bread available on the day. Luckily everyone went for it”
George’s hard won fan base have kept coming back and now will have a new cafe in Portland Street to try out, just round the corner from his original premises, which is now the main bakery. So, online orders in Regent Street and the cafe a couple of streets further into town.
Talking to George, it’s not hard to spot his passion for bread. Eight years ago he was a sound engineer for The Food Programme on BBC Radio 4. ‘I kept hearing these great stories about food as part of the programme and I sat there and thought, I should be doing that’. He and his family had moved to a village in Warwickshire and to keep them all in fresh bread, George bought a breadmaker. Sounds like heresy to hear this when you think how far he’s come, but when the breadmaker broke, his hobby of making bread didn’t. He enrolled on courses to learn from scratch. And he credits the support and encouragement from existing bakers who generously said ‘put on your apron and come and spend time with us’. The chances of George’s hobby becoming a living were finally realised.
Like the bread he produces now at Haddie and Trilby, it’s a slow process, some loaves taking three days from start to shop. And you need to know your weather conditions too, in hotter weather George has to change the recipes to keep the process slow.
And now to the name. Haddie and Trilby were famous elephants, brought to Leamington in its heyday as a spa town. They were two of what became known in Victorian times as ‘ The Three Graces’. The third one was their big sister Wilhemina. Locals who knew the story would often ask George where Wilhemina was. For a time the oven in the bakery was named after her. But how she has her own place - the cafe in Portland Street has been named in her honour.
Join Wilhemina for a drink and a bite to eat on Portland Street in Leamington. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 7am until the goodies sell out. Better be quick.