Bread and pastry producer Hobbs House Bakery has evolved from a small shop in a family home to an award-winning bakery with two TV programmes to its name
Herbert family members say they are born with flour on their fingers. It all started with Thomas Herbert who, in 1920, turned his blacksmith’s workshop in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, into a bakery.
His sons, Joe and David, joined the family business, but chose to relocate to Bristol after the war, where the second iteration of Herbert’s Bakery was set up.
David’s son, Trevor, came on board in 1967, following which the bakery evolved its processes, first purchasing an electric mill from Denmark to produce its own wholemeal flour, made from Suffolk-grown wheat. A pivotal point came in 1979, when David bought a 250-acre farm in Bristol to grow his own wheat.
As 1983 came around, so did the third iteration of Herbert’s Bakery – soon to be renamed Hobbs House Bakery – when Trevor’s inlaws, the Wells family, joined the business, and Trevor purchased a butcher’s shop called Hobbs in Chipping Sodbury.
“We had the good fortune to grow,” he says. “Many bakeries closed due to the new fad of buying bread in supermarkets.”
Trevor, still chairman of the business, believes the bakery was really put on the map in 1996, when it was awarded the title of Best Bakery in Britain by Henrietta Green’s Food Lover’s Guide to Britain.
Further fame followed in 2009, when Trevor’s son, Tom Herbert, featured in a BBC Four documentary In Search of The Perfect Loaf. Here he created The Shepherd’s Loaf, made from organic Somerset spelt flour, Cotswolds spring water and Cornish sea salt, crafted from a 55-year-old recipe; it was notorious for being the most expensive loaf in the UK, at £21.
A year later, Tom and his brother Henry created the Fabulous Baker Brothers, securing a TV show of the same name in 2012.
Things were changing at the bakery, too, with four stores now alongside the Chipping Sodbury bakery. Trevor’s son George took over as managing director in 2017 and the firm this year achieved Certified B Corporation status, meaning it balances purpose and profit. “It shows how sustainable we are,” says Trevor. “We care about our employees, our communities and the provenance of our goods.”
One constant is the ‘overnight’ method of bread production – a tradition started by Thomas Herbert in the 20th century – with many of the loaves still featuring the bakery’s 64-year-old, award-winning sourdough starter. Other items on the menu include its best-selling Malted Wheat Loaf, morning goods such as croissants, brownies, and burger buns.
“We will continue to innovate and look at where the bread market is headed,” concludes Trevor.
- 1920: Herbert’s Bakery is established by Thomas Herbert
- 1967: Thomas’ grandson Trevor joins the family business, working alongside his father David
- 1979: David Herbert buys a farm to grow wheat for the bakery
- 1983: Trevor founds the third iteration of Herbert’s Bakery in Chipping Sodbury
- 1986: The business is renamed Hobbs House Bakery
- 2009: Trevor’s son Tom Herbert appears on TV for the first time
- 2017: George Herbert becomes managing director, as Trevor (above right) is named chairman
- 2020: Hobbs House Bakery achieves B Corp status