Andover Wine Circle

THE August meeting of the Andover Wine Circle took place at the unusual venue of ‘Burbidges the Bakers’ in Weyhill Road.

The main speaker for the evening was Steve Burbidge, the owner and chief baker of the business. Hence, what better place to hold the meeting than the bakehouse.

Some 25 members sat on fold-up chairs in any space left amongst the ovens, dough-mixers and benches within the room.

The chairman, Keith Helsdown, welcomed everyone and after reading the minutes of the July meeting, introduce Steve, who in turn welcomed members of the circle to his place of work.

He started by describing the history of the family owned business, which was started by his great-grandfather in 1902. This was continued in succession by Steve’s grandfather, then his father and finally, to date, himself.

He mentioned that in the past it was necessary for bakers to undertake a four year apprenticeship.

Steve also stated that it was always their custom at Burbidges to use the finest ingredients and as a consequence their products were seldom the cheapest but always top for quality.

He had visited Denmark to find out the best way and methods of making Danish pastries.

Over the years equipment had improved and simplified the accuracy of the efforts of the baker. This was evident by the equipment viewed.

Also the business included roasting turkeys at Christmas. Locals were able nto to bring along their turkeys and have them cooked in the bread ovens. This was started years ago and is continued to this day.

Recently Burbidges were featured on TV and cameras were operated throughout the preparation and baking process. Also featured was the particular Danish pastry which is a speciality of the company. These were tasted and highly approved by the television producers and also by circle members.

Sales of these had considerably risen since the TV programme and had created a large increase in production.

Steve also talked about his hobby of travelling, which started with a motor cycle and has included hitch-hiking and had resulted in many interesting adventures. His experiences were shown on film.

Needless to say the entire talk was met with great appreciation and applause. Most members also went home with a free loaf. So concluded a most unusual meeting of the circle.