Lovingly Artisan banks on nostalgia to be the toast of the town

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Lovingly Artisan is harking on nostalgia: using a Bread Truck to take its footprint forward. Pic: GettyImages
Lovingly Artisan is harking on nostalgia: using a Bread Truck to take its footprint forward. Pic: GettyImages

Related tags Lovingly Artisan sourdough bread truck nostalgia home delivery

The award-winning Northwest bakery is going back to the future by introducing the bread truck, once a commonplace and essential part of daily life across the UK.

Growing up in the ’40s, ’50s and even ’60s meant a daily visit from the baker by horse and cart, before the advance in motorisation saw the carthorse replaced by multi-stop trucks, light-duty vans designed for local deliveries to homes and businesses.

bread van Maiers_Kew-Bee_Bread_Truck_by_Boyertown_Body_Works

Though commonly referred to as bread trucks - or step vans, a brand name created by Chevrolet - these trucks were used to dispense everything from bread to milk, post, newspapers, ice and even groceries.

Fast forward several decades, and the world has essentially reverted to the practice of home deliveries, thanks to the pandemic.

“The bread van was something that was an integral part of how we used to shop: it would plot up in a regular location, you’d buy your freshly baked bread and perhaps a few other staples you might need such as butter or milk and after it’s allotted time, it would be on its way until next the next week,”​ said Connor.

“Bread vans up and down the country provided a regular service that whole communities could rely on, but not only that they were a great way for people to get to know each other.”

Bread that’s fit to be back at the centre of the table

Lovingly Artisan’s Bread Truck will be doing the rounds in Cumbria, especially to communities that have limited access to artisan-made sourdough - to deliver freshly baked organic sourdough and pastries. It will also attend farmer’s markets, country shows and food festivals across the northwest, doubling as a mini mobile shop selling a range of artisanal treats, handy kitchenalia and barista coffees.

Loyingly Artisan Bread Truck - L to R serving - Emily Tagg and Catherine Connor

Husband and wife team Aidan Monks and Catherine Connor are behind the Lovingly Artisan brand. Monks grew up with bakery in his blood, helping his grandad deliver bread freshly baked at a bakery in Ambleside. The bread van became a common sight across the Lake District. Jump forward, and Monks began baking in his kitchen, selling his goods from a tiny garage on the platform of Oxenholme Train Station, before opening its first purpose-built bakery in 2010. Lovingly Artisan today has outlets in Manchester, Altrincham and Kendal.

Recapture the time-honoured way of doing things

Artisanal baker sourdough Alla Tsyganova
Pic: GettyImages

Despite its growth, Monks and Conner remain passionate about ‘real breadmaking’, right back to honouring the skill of growing grain.

“We have a long-standing relationship with a farmer in Cumbria [who grows] heritage tall-straw grains [and] it’s combining those very special flowers into our breads that makes them very distinctive,”​ said Monks.

“Our guiding principle was that we want to make bread that’s fit to be back at the centre of the table.”

According to Monks, when they started, “it wasn’t considered a thing to open a bakery just baking sourdough”​ but today, people are more concerned about what they consume and sourdough has surged in popularity.

Sourdough uses very few ingredients and follows a time-honoured process. In fact, a true sourdough bread should only contain just flour, water and salt and the rise should come from a slow, natural fermentation process, without the help of any baking aids.

It was Conner’s idea to recreate the Bread Truck, calling on Eclectic Creative in Staveley to bring the first concepts to life. With a full design brief in place, the duo then turned to Wilkinson Mobile Catering Systems in Darwin, Lancashire, to turn the dream into reality. Its interior was fitted by blacksmith Shaun Bainbridge.

The Truck will make an appearance at Kendal Farmer’s Market for a trial run before rolling out at events across the northwest, including the Westmorland County Show.

“There’s no doubt we’ve lost that connection between people in recent years, so inspired by tales of Aidan making bread deliveries with his grandad in his bread van, I decided we should try and do something about it and recapture a little of that way of doing things by introducing our Bread Truck,”​ said Conner.

Ferrari's breadvan

Google ‘bread van’ and a most unlikely connection will pop up. Ferrari’s $30m 250 GT SWB Breadvan was a one-off, built in 1962 to compete in the gruelling 24-hour Le Mans and other sports car races. It’s flat, elongated roof emulating the delivery vehicles of the time earned it the nickname ‘Breadvan’.

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