STORY: Dunns celebrates 200 years and six generations of bakers
Lewis Freeman took over ownership of Crouch End bakery Dunns from his father Christopher three years ago, at the age of 25. An entrepreneurial spirit, he has just opened a second branch in Muswell Hill, something he has been keen to do for some time. All this in the year that the Freeman's are celebrating 200 years of craft artisan bakers in their family.
Christopher’s father David Freeman, Lewis’s grandfather, bought Dunns just after the Second World War in 1946. Lewis’s great grandfather Charles Freeman had worked at Dunns as a pastry confectioner in the early 1900s before opening his own bakery in Enfield. The first in the six generation line of Freeman bakers was Robert Freeman who came to London from Northamptonshire in 1820, travelling on the back of a hay wagon. He started working in a bakery in Highgate before opening his own on Highgate Hill that remained in the family until 1920.
Lewis, who grew up and still lives in Crouch End, knew at the age of 15 that he wanted to take over the family business. He started helping his dad in the bakery from the age of 11, then spent every Sunday as a teenager working in the shop, as well as being an extra pair of hands at busy times like Christmas and Easter.
He said: “Dunns has always been an integral part of my life. I love it! It’s great to be able to carry on the family tradition two hundred years down the line. I’m very excited about our new shop in Muswell Hill, where Dunns previously had a shop before the Second World War.”
Christopher was very mindful of this being a decision that Lewis made himself and at no stage asked him or said he expected him to do so. Lewis went to the University of Reading and studied finance and investment banking, working at a local bakery whilst there. His decision to continue the line of craft artisan bakers in the family delighted not only Christopher but also Lewis’s grandfather David, who found out shortly before he died.
To build on his knowledge gained working at Dunns since he was a child, Lewis spent eighteen months working full time alongside his father Christopher in the shop and baker Ron Lacey in the bakery to properly learn his trade and take on the business. Ron did his bakery apprenticeship with Lewis’ grandfather at Dunns.
Dunns employs around fifty staff in total, including many who have worked there for decades plus lots of young people working part-time. They work across six departments: bread, patisserie, flour confectionery & pastry, cake decoration, sandwiches and the shop, plus a driver, cleaner and admin support.
Lewis said: “We have a fantastic team, with a range of skills from masters of their trades to school children from the local area working at weekends.”
Traditional methods of baking have always been used by the Freeman family, including long fermentation of bread dough, so they were well placed for the growing demand for sourdough bread of recent years, and now bake a range of sourdough loaves.
There’s been subtle changes to the Dunns repertoire over the years, with traditional cream cakes making way for more patisserie. However, the number one selling item still remains the sausage roll (with meat from local butcher Morley’s) and the jam doughnut. Crouch End sourdough has taken over from the crusty bloomer as the most popular loaf. The flour used comes from the London’s only working mill, Wright’s the Flour Millers in Ponders End, Enfield, also a family business through six generations.
For more information visit dunns-bakery.co.uk