It was a delight to meet Kieron and Ken Palmer of Palmers Bakery (Haughley) as part of the 2018 celebration of East Anglia’s Family Business Day. However, when it comes to celebrations, I did feel that I had arrived a year too soon ….. the Palmer family having taken over the business almost 150 years ago in 1869.
The heritage and family ancestry is displayed not only in the shop but also in the bakery itself, and father and son still rely on the methods and recipes of their forefathers. The 200-year-old brick ovens bake around 5,000 loaves of bread a week, as well as a variety of artisan breads, cakes and pastries.
Kieron’s great great grandfather, William James Palmer purchased the business which had been a bakery since about 1750. The business was then passed to son William Ewart Gladstone Palmer. During that time the business acquired property, including a mill, before the business passed to Kieron’s grandfather Roy. Since Roy’s death in 1989 the business has been run by Ken and Kieron, quite a double act – Ken’s experience and stories proudly told of years gone by and Kieron’s firm handle on the day to day running of the business. So how will the Palmer family celebrate their 150th anniversary? “It was the August bank holiday of 1869 when my great great grandfather began our story here in Haughley” said Kieron. “I’m sure there will be something to mark this historic moment” – including a cake I suspect.
The appeal of the family business is so evident, striving to use local ingredients, support the community and employ local people. Is there a unique pressure to being such a long established and well known family? “A few years ago we faced an issue regarding the use of the village green here in Haughley and were overwhelmed with the support for the business that we received locally” said Kieron.
Village Greens can pose particular issues as regards to use and access. Even if one is a ‘long user’, it is not an automatic right at law. In some instances it can be a criminal offence to cross them with vehicles, but there can be exceptions, such as where the use of a track can be proven to have taken place prior to the introduction of any statutory offence. In the case of Palmers, the earliest deeds they hold date from the 1600’s, and there was one particular one from the eighteenth century which proved helpful, so it was possible to demonstrate their use from before any prohibitive legislation had come in. It is important to note that the use created no encroachment or interference with recreational rights on the village green, and had been consistently exercised over a defined channel. This is all fascinating stuff – to think that documents prepared well over 100 years ago are still so vital to a business today. “This could well be one of the only cases in the country where one family can securely evidence the acquisition of a right of way over a village green by a use since time immemorial”, Kieron adds.
When I leave it’s 10am and the shop is very busy, hot cross buns are piled high and selling like….. hot cakes.
The content of this article is for general information only. For further information regarding commercial property or rights of way issues please, please contact Amanda Timcke or Carol Ramsden from Birketts’ Commercial Property Team.
This article is from the March 2018 issue of The Family Business, our newsletter for those working within family-owned businesses. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website.
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The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at March 2018.