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February 17, 2010

There’s life in those ovens yet

Another feature of the high street fast disappearing is the independent bakery.  The dominance of the supermarket usually gets the blame. As the saying goes  – use it or lose it. But when the local bakery in Dunbar’s high street shut up shop, a group of locals decided something had to be done and the idea for Scotland’s first community bakery was born

THE hunt for premises for Dunbar’s new community bakery – believed to be Scotland’s first – is continuing as project funding passes the £50,000 mark.

It had been hoped to secure the former William Smith bakery, which closed due to retirement in November 2008, but negotiations to buy it or get a long-term lease were unsuccessful.

This has set the project, first launched by the Sustaining Dunbar group, back several months but the management committee is confident that the bakery can be up and running soon as it is hoped to identify premises in the next few months.

Dunbar Community Bakery Ltd was established last summer and has already attracted 230 shareholders who have contributed an average of £100 each to raise £23,000 in equity investment.

Its management committee has also secured pledges of £28,000 in interest free loans and grants.

This is believed to be the first attempt to open a community bakery in Scotland, although the model has been successful in England.

The idea is that the bakery is run by the community for the community, with residents subscribing to take its products for an agreed period to provide a secure market and help with initial costs.

The initiative, which has a website,, is headed up by retail expert Jane Wood, chief executive of Scottish Business in the Community, chairman of Essential Edinburgh, and Dunbar resident Fiona Moriarty of the Scottish Retail Consortium is also on the management committee.

Ms Wood said: “The response from people in Dunbar has been amazing. Since the summer, we have raised £51,000.

“We are working hard to complete the funding package. But we will only be able to apply for some grants and soft loans once we have secured premises.

“We are appealing to everyone who shops in Dunbar to support the initiative. Dunbar’s last bakery was still trading profitably when it closed in November 2008.

“We are confident we can establish a financially viable business producing distinctive high-quality bread and other bakery goods, joining the other quality artisan bakeries already operating in Scotland and continuing to build on East Lothian’s wonderful reputation for quality produce.

“We hope to attract business from nearby towns such as Haddington and North Berwick as well as from the people of Dunbar and the surrounding villages.”

The initiative is supported by Enterprise Minister Jim Mather and Iain Gray, East Lothian MSP and Labour leader.

Mr Gray said: “In these times of economic challenges we must look at new ways of reinvigorating our High Streets using innovative models of business.

“I support this drive by Dunbar’s residential and business community to enrich and diversify the retail offer of the High Street.”