Welcome to my retroactive journal documenting our tour of New Zealand, this secton of which was made in January 2012.
Yesterday I explained the personal memories that form my connection with the Sydenham Bakery in Christchurch New Zealand.
Now I’m back inside and looking at many familiar New Zealand bakery items.
Yes, we are back to drooling over photos of amazing displays of food … but come on, before you berate me: that’s not new on this blog is it ?
More memories flood back as they always will when you remember iced buns or anything filled with cream and the childish sticky fingers that just needed licking after eating, or the dusting of icing sugar that I managed to spill down my front … this one still being as bad a habit now as it was then, and sadly I need to confess that I’ve also extended this particular bad habit to other foods like pasta sauce (who am I kidding?… if I’m honest…anything with sauce!) and soup as an adult.
The founder of the bakery, John Kuipers came to Christchurch from the Netherlands at roughly the same time as my Father did…
… they came for work opportunities on the other side of the world and plane fares were so expensive and sea journeys took so long that it was more or less seen as a one-way ticket with little or no prospect (before the advent of cheap long-haul flights) of ever returning to the Netherlands.
Their new lives in New Zealand were therefore ”make or break” and they worked hard to make their businesses work.
There was a study done a while back in New Zealand on why Dutch immigrants of this time made such a high percentage of successful businesses… and apparently it was partly this “there’s no going back” attitude and also the simple fact that people who are prepared to emigrate so far from home into the unknown, are in general already the type of people who are willing to take a larger amount of risk than their peers.
The ingrained Dutch Calvinist work ethic probably helped too LOL.
Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of supporting and promoting smaller local businesses, which are also often family run establishments and since I also love local history, here’s a dollop of both in one hit… for me finding both together is like the cream on the top of the cream bun… it makes the whole experience even more delectable.
I talk to Celia about the business and notice there’s a nice display about the history of the business on the wall… I couldn’t get close enough to get really good detail but here’s the text (reproduced with permission).
It was 1958 when John Kuipers left Holland to start a new life in Christchurch, New Zealand.
He arrived with 30 pounds in his pocket and a determination to pursue his love of baking.
After working in Linwood bakery for two years, he realised his dream of owning his own bakery, purchasing the Sydenham Cake kitchen at 458 Colombo Street on 1 September 1960.
The cake kitchen has previously been known as “Matthews” and had opened back in 1910.
John began in 1961 with a little money and a big loan. Turnover in the first week was 120 pounds a week and withing four weeks it was up to 240 pounds a week.
With one shop assistant, Connie Sharp and a part-timer in the bakehouse, Beverley Brewer, John worked long hours starting at 2 in the morning and finishing at 5 at night.
Hans, John’s son joined the staff in 1978 and Paul MacGibbon began as an apprentice in 1982. The following year, with the bakery bursting at it’s seams, John purchased the present site at 424 Colombo Street.
Tragedy struck in 1985 when a fire took hold and completely destroyed the bakery at 458 Colombo Street. With 24 hours the staff were operating from premises at Sandyford Street and within 18 months a new bakery was set up at 424 Colombo Street and business returned to normal.
In 2002, at the age of 65, John decided it was time to retire and Hans took told of the reins. Paul then joined Hans in partnership in 2008.
So… This is “Front of House” as far as the bakery is concerned.. but I have a treat in store, because I get to go ‘out the back” where the best of the action really is…