W.C. BAKER AND SON LTD (BAKERS) – HISTORY OF FLEET

Established 1908 - Closed 2021

by For Fleet's Sake
 

ABOUT THIS PAGE

This is a record of a business that used to exist in Fleet Hampshire but has now closed down.

If you have any photos of this business or any additional information/dates etc, please do get in touch as we’d love to add them. If you have any memories or stories to share, please enter them in the comments below.

As well as our main Facebook group, we also have a group dedicated to the history of Fleet and Church Crookham.

To join our online history group, please click here -> Fleet and Crookham History Archives Group

Thank you and hope you enjoy the page!

SUMMARY

W.C. Baker and Son Ltd. (affectionately known as “Bakers”), was established in 1908, making it Fleet’s oldest existing business (in 2021) and without a doubt the most popular. Famed for it’s tardis like interior and impressive customer service, they sold a range of DIY goods and hardware. If Bakers didn’t have it…no one did!

From 1908 – circa 1935 it had a premises on Reading Road South, after which it moved to the custom build we know today at 234 Fleet Road (previously known as 238 Fleet Road before the buildings were renumbered).

On 1st August 2021, Bakers announced that they would be closing their doors after 112 years of service to the local Fleet community. The family said of the closure, “This past year has been very challenging, but like everyone else we have found ways of adapting”. The last day of trading was 30th September 2021. Owner Geoffrey Baker (grandson of Wyndham Baker), who has run the store since the 1970’s, stated “Due to circumstances beyond our control we have judged that it is now the right time to bow out.”


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LOCATION(S)

Pre-1935, they occupied the address below:

After which they built a premises at the following address:

HISTORY

From Bakers website:

“W C Baker and son hardware is proud to have been operating in Fleet for 100 years and remains a family run business.

Mr. Wyndham Cecil Baker, a cabinet maker and decorator moved from Wokingham with his wife, Mrs. Lilian Ethel Baker, to Fleet in April 1908. He set up a cabinet and household furniture shop in Reading Road South repairing furniture and providing services such as French polishing and upholstery work. WW1 led to a low demand for this type of work so Wyndham started selling goods for troops based in nearby Crookham. He provided them with soap and brushes as well as brass items for the army bands, also general military requisitions including boots, putty knives, billy cans, officers swagger canes and the like. After the war, glass and chinaware were added to the business along with a thriving building and decorating service.

The business moved to new purpose built premises in Fleet Road in the 1930’s. Wyndham had the help of his son, Mr. Sydney Baker and many local men. WW2 took its place in history and Sydney was called up for service as a full time fireman. Many local men lost their lives and the building service provided by Wyndham was halted and subsequently not restarted. Shortly after the war Wyndham suffered ill health and therefore passed the business onto his son, Sydney, who remained a part-time fireman but also took on the responsibility of running the shop with the help from his wife, Marguerite. He continued selling decorating and building items, which of course he had experience in using and also added the service of cutting keys and grinding tools.

In the late 1970’s Sydney ’s son, Geoffrey John Baker, grandson of Wyndham, took over the responsibility of running the ironmongery business. Geoff has the help and support of his wife, Suzanne and their twin daughters, Jane and Sarah – the fourth generation. Geoff has developed the key cutting service to its full potential and has an outstanding practical knowledge of locks and oil heaters.

The Business has won many accolades including Business of the Year award in 1987, 1988 and again in 1989. Also the Fleet in Bloom shop frontage award for six successive years.”

KEY DATES

1908 – W.C Baker and Son was established in 24 Reading Road South.

1935 – Moved to current premises at 234 Fleet Road (previously 238 Fleet Road before the buildings were renumbered).

1987 – Winner of the “Business of the Year” award.

1988 – Winner of the “Business of the Year” award.

1989 – Winner of the “Business of the Year” award.

2008 – Bakers celebrate their centenary.

2017 – 27th July, BBC Radio Surrey tour Bakers (see video below).

2021 – 1st August, Bakers announce their upcoming closure.

2021 – 30th September. Bakers closes after 112 years.

Below: 1) Wyndham Baker, who established the shop in 1908 and 2) Geoffrey Baker (grandson of Wyndham) stands outside the store on the last day of opening in 2021. Photo credit: BBC.


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VIDEO INTERVIEW

A 2017 interview with Geoffrey Baker, current owner of Bakers, exploring the true tardis effect of the popular shop and its never-ending stock!

Shown here with the kind permission of BBC Radio Surrey.

PHOTO GALLERY

An album of all/any images associated with this business that appears on our website.

To see more images and other occupants of this location, please click the address link(s) above.

Photo credits are listed on the individual images.

(Click on photo to enlarge and scroll through selection)


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RELATED POSTS

All information and articles on our website which feature this business, or the address(es) it occupied are listed below:

GOODBYE FROM BAKERS

So after 112 years in Fleet it’s a sad farewell to Bakers and the Baker staff and family. Fleet will miss you!

Below: Geoff Baker closes up the shop for the last time and the Baker family wish Fleet a fond farewell.

wc-baker-bakers-fleet-hampshire-geoff-baker-closing-doors

COMMENTS

Do you have thoughts, comments or memories to share? We’d love to hear from you…so please leave a comment!


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