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Son pays tribute to master baker of Chingford
A son who followed in his father’s footsteps has paid tribute to the former master baker.
Jim Crown was known throughout the area as a qualified master baker who owned James Crown’s Bakeries, which in the 1980s employed 100 staff across 13 outlets around east London.
He passed away on January 10 at the age of 92 after a short battle with illness over Christmas, but his family hope his name will be remembered by those who joined the queues snaking outside his shop in Station Road to buy his famous baked goods.
Alan Crown, of Frederica Road in Chingford, said: “It’s a tough time at the moment but life goes on. His name became famous around here, it was a great achievement because he expanded the business dramatically.
“My Dad was always very much concerned with doing the right thing. He’s taught me that, I think, too. His word was everything – what he said he’d do he did. That’s something he’s ingrained in me.”
His father was trained as an engineer during World War Two, when he repair Spitfires and Hurricanes protecting Britain’s skies, before landing in Germany days after D-Day, when he encountered a concentration camp.
But Mr Crown said: “He never spoke about it. All he said was ‘you just wouldn’t believe it’. It must have been awful what he saw.”
Mr Crown joined his father at the bakery in Station Road after he finished university when his uncle left the family business, started in the 1890s by Mr Crown’s maternal grandfather.
He and his father would arrive at the bakery at 3am each morning to begin the day’s work, and would not finish until 5.30pm.
Jim was a qualified master baker, meaning he had to pass stringent exams to prove his worth. But the busy days at the shop demonstrated the public appreciated his hard work.
Alan said: “I miss it despite the long hours. We’d work for two days running sometimes, 48 hours without any let up because there was so much to do.
“When we were busy there’d be queues out the door. But I don’t regret any of it. My father never went for the easy buck. We made high quality food there.
“That’s missing from Greggs and that now, there’s less care about the product in large chain stores. We were part of a high street that’s disappeared.”
Jim never lost his love of fixing things, be it fighter planes or common household junk, and spent parts of his day fixing the baking machines and repairing neighbours’ radios and televisions.
But he eventually sold the business to Giffords Bakery in 1999 when just four were left due to tough from competition from supermarkets, and retired, spending his last 15 years with wife Rene in Exeter, where his twin brother lived.
Mr Crown often visited his parents with his wife and children as did his sister with her family.
And even though the family business has come to an end, Mr Crown has continued where his father left off and now fixes computers for a living.
He said: “It was a hobby that turned into a job for me. I put that down to my father’s interest in technology. It’s a small thing but it shows how I’ve followed in his footsteps to a degree.”
The funeral takes place in Exeter tomorrow morning.
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