It All Began With 3 Biscuits!
15th July 2019 Paul Andrews
The story of Cartwright and Butler is a story of family and their love of baking that spans over five generations.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the families involved were the Cartwrights and the Butlers, but this is real life and things are seldom so simple.
Instead, it begins with the Adam sisters, Jennie and Kathrine who lived in a house down Derringham Street in Hull, in the North of England. The third sister Maria was already married to Charles Arnett.
Upon the death of their father Henry Fearn Adam in 1903 their step mother returned to Scotland leaving them without an income. As a result, Jennie and Kathrine turned the front room of their house into a shop offering the unconventional pairing of sewing and baking.
It wasn’t long before their natural talent for baking saw them leave the sewing behind with a move to new and bigger premises of J&K Adam in Princes Avenue Hull where their sister Maria also worked. The Bakery was born along with a reputation for some of the finest breads, pies, cakes, biscuits, puddings and preserves in Hull.
Later, the Arnetts (remember them? We said they would be back) who had their own small chain of bakery shops by now bought J&K Adam and the families were united over their joint passion to be the finest bakers in the North.
It is the direct decedents of the Arnetts, three brothers, who still run the business today, along with that same passion to make finest products possible, still burning just as bright.
But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves and need to return to the 1930’s...
To be an Arnett is to be a baker and so it was always going to be simply a matter of time before the next generation would continue the family legacy, with two cousins (Gordon Arnett, the grandfather of today’s owners and another Kathleen Arnett) taking over a shop and café in the village of Cottingham, Yorkshire.
More tough times were around the corner and in 1939 World War Two broke out and with-it food rationing was introduced. During the early war years Gordon Arnett took over a bakery in Norfolk Street Hull and with ingredients now in such short supply the shop would sell out everything they made within the first few hours of opening each day.
In 1946 immediately after the war The Cake Shop was acquired in North Bar within Beverley and the business flourished. An article in The British Baker dated 1st April 1955 at the opening of the refurbished Cake Shop which now included the shop next door, had Grandfather Arnett already looking ahead to the time when his two sons John and Charles would take over the business, despite them being only twelve and eight at the time!
It wasn’t until the middle 60s that this was to happen. By now the Arnetts’ reputation for being skilled bakers was gaining national attention and they were selling their cakes and biscuits across the country in stores with such wonderfully old-fashioned British names as The Army & Navy Stores, The Civil Service Stores and the legendary Barkers of Kensington
A lot of this success was down to the hampers that they were included in. Here was an opportunity to showcase their skill in making not just luxury cakes and biscuits but also classic puddings and mince pies. Now diversification was happening with the starting of Beaverlac Home Bakery firstly in Beverley and then moving to Beverley Manor, Park Avenue Hull in 1980.
In the 1990’s there was further diversification into the Yorkshire Farm Bakery where a range of boxed cakes using innovative packaging were produced. This range was added to in the early 2000’s by a comprehensive range of gluten free breads and cakes which supplied the needs of a growing market.
With a new generation of Arnetts now running the business, it was time for the next evolution of the business.
The brothers were concerned at what they saw at this time in Britain. Food was going through a bit of a crisis. Taste was being forsaken for profit. Chemists were replacing cooks. The joy of eating was being replaced with an obsession with calorie counting.
All of which was an anathema to the Arnetts.
Here was a family who for generations not only prided themselves on mastering the art of baking, but who derived great personal pleasure from food and the sharing with friends and family that went with it.
Enough was enough, they were going to bring back unadulterated joy to the British teatime table. They would go back to what Jennie and Kathrine did – bake great tasting biscuit and cakes and preserves, the kind that put the biggest of smiles onto faces.
Looking around to supplement their skill as bakers they bought a small company making jams and preserves with the simple aim to make them better than homemade. So enamoured with these products were the brothers that they decided to keep the name, Cartwright and Butler.
Whatever the next chapter holds for the Arnett family of bakers you can be sure of one thing, that passion for making only the finest products, that is at the heart of who they are and have been for generations will continue for years to come.