Appetising smells used to waft up through the pavement at this point in the high street. This building was once a well-known local business called The Victoria Bun House, providing high-class bread and pastries. Its ovens were in white-tiled cellars underneath the shop. A central support column which once held up the floor of the shop had been the mast of an old ship!
The shop's owner, Joseph Andrews, was Mayor of Dunstable between 1922 and 1923. He gave the shop its well-remembered name when he bought the business some time before 1908. His cakes became local favourites, particularly his Madeira cakes topped with a slice of peel.
When he chose the shop's new name Mr Andrews would have been well-aware that there had been a bakery here since at least the reign of Queen Victoria. George Strange, a confectioner, was here is 1869, having moved from his previous shop in Ashton Street. Later, Joseph Shepherd owned the premises, remaining until at least 1898.
Mr Andrews retired in about 1928, just before a new law banned underground bakeries. New coal-fired ovens were installed in a ground-floor extension at the back and the cellars were then used for storage. The original ovens, made by an ironmonger named Limbrey in a workshop in West Street, remained in place.
The last bakers in the Victoria Bun Shop were Mr Ernest Richardson and his family, who were there from 1937. Their shop closed in 1986.
Text: John Buckledee of Dunstable and District Local History Society. ©
Design: David Turner.
Narration: Susan Young of Dunstable Repertory Company.
Recording: David Hornsey.
Website developer: Joshua Buckledee.