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Savouring Tradition: Exploring The Delights Of Carrs Pasties

In the heart of Bolton, amidst its bustling streets and vibrant culture, lies a culinary gem cherished by locals and visitors alike: Carrs Pasties. Since 1938, Carrs has been synonymous with the epitome of traditional British comfort food, serving up delectable pasties that tantalise taste buds and warm the soul. Paul Andrews spoke to Joe Carr to find out more.


Carrs Pasties has stood the test of time, rooted in a rich heritage dating back to when Grandma Nell made the first meat and potato pasties from a general store on Halliwell Road, a shop that still stands today and remains one of the retail outlets of the business.


As Joe explains, “With six children to feed, Grandma made the pasties at home to feed the family and any spare were offered to friends and a brand was born. The shop was close to a number of light industrial mills; it wasn’t long before the workers were aware that the pasties were available, and a queue would form around the block to buy them. Uncle Bernard took on the role of baker and began to build the business that we know today – and when the time was right, invited the siblings to join and help build the business.”


“Four of the six siblings, David, Veronica, Benard and my dad John worked together to build Carrs and set us on the journey that continues today,” continues Joe.


Since then, the establishment has become a beloved institution, celebrated for its commitment to quality ingredients and time-honoured recipes passed down through generations.


Today at Carrs, the pasty-making process is based as much as possible on Grandma Nell’s recipe. Keeping the ingredient list simple, making small batches and cooking from scratch every morning. Each pasty boasts a flaky, golden crust that gives way to a flavourful filling bursting with savoury delights. The production process is unique in that each pasty is filled with a hot filling straight from the pan before being blast chilled and frozen - which helps to lock in the flavour.


From the classic cheese and onion to the indulgent steak pasty, Carrs offers a diverse array of fillings to suit every palate.


But it's not just the pasties that keep patrons coming back for more; it's the sense of community and tradition that permeates every bite. Step inside Carrs HQ, and you're greeted with the comforting aroma of freshly baked pasties mingling with laughter and lively conversation. Here, locals gather to share stories, catch up on gossip, and indulge in a taste of nostalgia. This is a business steeped in community and doing business the right way. Family values are at the core and there is a long-standing, loyal workforce, many of the team having been with them for over 30 years, and a real sense of purpose, to continue to bake pasties that are filled with pride.


“Our people are part of who we are,” continues Joe, “and help us deliver quality products each and every day. Our local workforce embodies everything we stand for, with Bolton front and centre, and our team are on the journey with us and help us continue to develop and grow too.”


Beyond its charming ambiance and mouthwatering fare, Carrs Pasties remains deeply ingrained in the fabric of Bolton's history.


As one of the town's oldest businesses, it has witnessed the ebb and flow of time, serving as a steadfast symbol of resilience and endurance.


Running a business is not easy and to stand the test of time is testament to the passion, pride and determination of a family that has been totally committed to what they do and the community they serve, now owned and run by the third-generation siblings, Matt, Joe, and Liam.


As Joe explains, “Dad simply asked us if we wanted to get involved and began the conversations around succession and made it relatively easy for us. As siblings, we have very different skills that are complimentary. We get on well and always manage to unanimously agree on the direction we want to follow."


"Matt focusses on strategy, constantly bringing new ideas for growth to challenge us and help drive the growth agenda. Liam is the creative force and the real heart and soul of what we do, and I enjoy being in the detail, leading on managing the company with a focus on operations finance. We have created a path that really works for us, and it is based on alignment of values, purpose, and a plan for the future.”

The future is promising too as they are currently investing in the development of the bakery to increase capacity and maximise productivity and operational efficiency.


As Joe continues, “We have a fantastic range of products, and our brand is well known in and around Bolton and we are now looking to build that further afield."


"The investment in the bakery will certainly help with the plans and we are considering lots of ways to grow throughout the UK, and building on the part of the business that delivers our pasties to the door with next day delivery anywhere in the UK.”


The essence of ‘delivering a feeling of warmth, community and pride’ is not new to Carrs. As Joe explains, “We launched the service after discussions and the result of a lady from South Wales who regularly paid for a taxi to Bolton to buy as many pasties as she could fit in the boot before returning home. We knew that there was demand and so launched the delivery service, something that is continuing to grow.”


Family values permeate the business and are embedded into the culture, something that takes time, but the brothers have worked hard to determine them, and they truly reflect the essence and authenticity of what Carrs are all about. “We took the creation of the values really seriously and engaged fully with the staff in their creation and they now shape us, the way we work and all that we do,” continues Joe.


The values at the heart of Carrs are:


  • We go above and beyond and will always do the right thing.

  • We have warmth for, and pride in our communities.

  • We want everyone to feel equal and they belong here.

  • We are driven, dedicated to our roles and fearless.

  • We will grow together as a business and strive for improvement in everything we do.


Community and a sense of place is deeply embedded into the culture of Carrs, something that the business continues as a matter of course, but part of the legacy of the second generations leaders Bernard, David, Veronica, and John - father of Matt, Joe, and Liam.


Joe told me that “Dad was an incredible individual who – with his siblings - went above and beyond to support the people of Bolton, always doing a good deed or helping someone out. He was driven by a desire to help others."


"When he passed away, we had no option but to have his funeral at the large Parish Church in the centre of Bolton which was overflowing with people paying their respects."


"The outpouring of support meant so much to us and was a reflection of who Dad was as a man – the vicar told us the church had rarely seen such engagement before and was reminiscent of the funerals of the England footballer Nat Lofthouse and TV personality Fred Dibnah.”


The Carrs legacy continues apace: you only have to stand outside one of their four stores to see the demand for their products, from all corners of the community. Legacy and heritage are important to this business that produces around 18,000 pasties a day, but they are also aware of the need to focus on the future. “For us, the future is important, and we want to continue to deliver quality pasties to a growing customer base. For us it’s simple, all we want to do is continue to provide delicious, freshly baked products and exceptional customer service, every day,” concludes Joe.


In an ever-changing world, Carrs Pasties stands as a beacon of tradition, reminding us of the simple pleasures found in good food and good company and yet also is facing the future with confidence, pursuing a national strategy.


So, whether you're a seasoned local or a curious traveller passing through, a visit to Carrs Pasties is more than just a culinary experience—it's a celebration of heritage, and a taste of Bolton's enduring spirit.


Carrs Pasties are on an exciting journey, and it will be fascinating to watch them continue to evolve.

Visit their website here to find out more.

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