Harold Sheldon joins the baking trade.
On leaving school, young and began work as a baker for Horrock’s bakers in Goodier Street, Newton Heath, Manchester. Harold learned the basics of the baking trade and also worked as a van boy helping on deliveries. Never one for standing around idly, when he wasn’t baking or on the vans, Harold worked as a stable boy to the horses that used to pull the bread vans.
The Delivery Man
Harold soon progressed to become a delivery man with his own round, making door to door deliveries by horse and cart to his customers in Failsworth, Chadderton and Oldham. The horse knew the route so well, he could travel the route without Harold having to touch the reins.
On the outbreak of war, Harold enlisted in the Royal Signals Regiment, serving as a motorcycle dispatch rider based in Salisbury where his wife, Bertha and daughter, Audrey (Graham’s sister) moved to be near him.
Following a nasty motorcycle accident, Harold was medically discharged from the army due to the seriousness of his injuries, and moved back to Manchester. After a lengthy recuperation, he rejoined Horrock’s in his previous job.
Out on his own.
Harold left to set up his own bread and confectionary wholesaling business – using products from the numerous independent bakers he’d grown to know.
…and then there were three.
Through Harold’s drive and determination, the business grew considerably; drafting in his brother Bob and brother in law-Harry Shields to help, Harold saw his vans travelling the winding old roads to Blackburn and Huddersfield every day.
Focus, focus, focus.
With the business growing in all directions, the brothers decided to sell 9 of their 12 vans as going concerns, so they could concentrate on growing the core of the business and doing more of what they were best at.
The most popular product by far was the Lancashire Oven Bottom Muffin –selling like hotcakes in almost every market in their area. Harold knew a Good Thing when he saw it and went into partnership with one of his former suppliers, Arthur Leigh, who had a bakery on Ashton Old Road in Manchester – Building the whole business around the now famous Oven Bottom Muffin!
It just keeps growing
Demand was so great that they moved to a bigger bakery on Clayton Lane, Openshaw, Manchester. Harold’s son, Graham Sheldon, joined the business as a van man to help satisfy the growing throng of customers.
... and growing
Another bakery was acquired in Dukinfield.
Seeing another opportunity, the business launched into production of finger rolls.
Harold Sheldon takes control
Harold bought out Arthur Leigh’s share of the partnership and sold the Dukinfield bakery as a going concern.
Ill health intervenes
Due to Harold’s failing health, Graham Sheldon bought his father out and enlisted the help of his wife, Barbara Sheldon, to run the business.
Lee Sheldon is born.
With the heir apparent in his cot, Graham and Barbara bought a large plot of land from the council to build an even bigger bakery.
The new bakery opens.
Sarah Sheldon is born.
Another child, another expansion. A new two storey extension was added to the bakery.
Sheldon's commenced production of Extra Large Baps, for people with the heartiest of Lancashire appetites.
You say potato ...
The company began producing Potato Cakes.
Graham brought the building next door - a John Wallwork Volvo Dealership - to increase production by around 70%.
More reasons ...
GH Sheldon started supplying Morrison's.
Every little ...
and then we started supplying Tesco.
Manchester City Council announced that it was to bid to stage the Olympic Games of 2000. The Topaz Street bakery was right in the middle of the area the to be flattened to facilitate the Olympic bid. The company made plans for a move which would finally be completed in 1995.
Although the Olympic bid was unsuccessful, the site was eventually used to build the stadium for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, which is now the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City.
Lee clocks in
Lee Sheldon commenced working at the bakery for his father. He learned every job in the place – from engineering and repairing machines to production and buying raw materials.
We ASDA 'ave 'em
ASDA asked us to supply four products including Oven Bottom Muffins and Potato Cakes.
Time to move again
The company moved to a purpose-built, state-of-the-art new bakery on the Stainburn Road site in Openshaw – within sight of Harold’s former premises on Clayton Lane. The new bakery was planned and designed by Graham – and he settled for nothing but the best. He invested more than £2.5 million on equipment alone – demanding the very latest technology – and his ideas were so forward-thinking that 70% of the new plant and equipment was custom built to his own design and specification. The result was one of the most modern bakery production facilities in the country.
April 1995 - New talent
Rod Ledgard started as Production Manager – bringing with him 10 years experience as Area Technical Manager at Rank Hovis Mills, where his role was troubleshooting flour and product problems in bakeries across the UK and Europe and doing new product development
With the move to the new bakery came increased production, expansion more jobs for people in the surrounding area – the company now employed around 70 staff.
Some key members of staff that helped the family with the difficulties involved in setting up and moving to new premises are still employed by the Company today e.g. Tony Lees (Engineering Manager) who started as Graham’s apprentice in 1986.
1995 - 1998
Sarah Sheldon studied law at University of Birmingham.
Neil Fairhurst joined to boost the commercial side after many years at Rathbone’s Bakery. With over 30 years’ experience, Neil was versed in almost every aspect of the Baking Industry. He works closely with the Despatch and Distribution Teams, ensuring that our 8–strong fleet of HGVs is properly maintained and ready to make deliveries to all of our customers. He also deals with all of our suppliers’ invoices - ingredients, services, equipment – and the payroll, which makes him very popular!
The Company established a mobile Sales Support Team to ensure the best possible service to retailers, with particular emphasis on supply.
The Company recruited its first full time Technical Manager to drive forward and improve the existing food safety systems.
Alan Stone brought 45 years of sales experience from Premier Foods (Hovis).
The Company started supplying Aldi.
Sarah Sheldon joined the business after working in Barrister’s chambers in London and for DLA Piper and Halliwells in Manchester. Sarah’s legal background would be immensely useful in the sea of regulations that surrounded the company in the modern era. Sarah’s first main project was to find some further land and/or premises as the bakery was full to capacity.
The company won a substantial order with one of the major retailers, which meant an expansion of Bakery 1’s production facility, and more investment in automation and machinery.
Turning to gold
G.H. Sheldon was shortlisted for the MIDAS Award for Excellence in Business Innovation by the Food Northwest Awards 2006.
A glorious summer
The Company saw huge uplifts in sales due to good summer weather and the football world cup.
The Cheese Topped Bap was introduced to the range.
The business acquired the premises directly opposite the Stainburn Road premises (known as Bakery 2).
2007 to 2009 Bakery Makeover
The Company invested £1.5 million in a thorough overhaul of the internal shell of the building - creating a modern food-safe bakery with new state of the art machinery.
Big wheels turning
The Company bought its first 22 tonne vehicle.
Help from the Government
Award of a Government Grant under Section 7 of the Industrial Development Act due to the significant expenditure on job creation and fixed assets.
Keep on trucking
The Company bought its first articulated truck.
More sales expertise
Davina Thomas came to strengthen the Sales team, bringing many years of experience in Sales.
A purpose built washroom was built on the Bakery 1 site.
The start of production in Bakery 2 opened led to the employee count reaching 150.
The business recruited Steve Borland as a Continuous Improvements Manager. Steve spent 38 years at Premier Foods prior to joining us. Steve is highly qualified and his area of expertise is managing people and systems.
Improvements in training. Commenced a programme of NVQ training (available to all staff).
A travelling oven was purchased for Bakery 2.
Gareth Parkinson joined as a highly-qualified Technical Manager with over 17 years experience in the baking industry. Gareth’s responsibility is to keep the company up-to-date with laws & legislation, customer requirements, product specifications and food safety. He handles all the audits and accreditation held by the company, such as BRC Accreditation, RSPO Membership, and a plethora of Customer Approvals which are renewed each year.
Started serving Coop with Oven Bottom Muffins.
More senior people
We recruited a Hygiene Manager and a CIMA Qualified Accountant, David Carroll, who boasted 28 years experience, 15 years of them in manufacturing. David is committed to driving out costs and improving efficiency.
Sarah drives up standards
Sarah Sheldon achieved the OCR Level Three Certificate of Professional Competence for Transport Managers (Road Haulage)-National and International to ensure the Company’s compliance with transport related legislation.
Built a purpose built washroom to the rear of Bakery 2.
£400,000 was invested in another state of the art roll plant for Bakery 2, and a further £40,000 on a new spiral mixer.
Recruited an additional Engineering Manager – Shane Lainton. He’s responsible for, among other things, coordinating and managing shift engineers, optimising machine efficiencies, planning and executing our Planned Preventative Maintenance System and carrying out risk assessments to ensure the safety of his staff. His 29 years in the baking industry have brought him multiple qualifications and experience across a wide range of plant types to make everything from Muffins to Swiss rolls.
Sarah Sheldon began a Masters in HR Management.
The business now supplies Aldi, Asda, Coop, Morrisons, Sainsbury, Tesco along with other independents and retailers.
Another £36,000 saw the purchase of a further hot dog slicing machine for Bakery 2.
Recruited Ken McIntosh (as HR Manager) from Bury College, where in his role as a National Dimploma trainer he had been working with us since 2009. Ken, who has over 35 years experience within the food industry, has since helped over 200 Sheldon’s employees obtain their Level 1 and Level 2 National Diploma in Food Manufacturing.
James Harper (Quality and Continuous Product Improvement) joined, bringing 8 years manufacturing experience in the baking industry, specifically in technical and new product development. Among other responsibilities, James introduced and now maintains the quality system, monitors daily product quality as well as creating and monitoring correct technical documentation to meet legal and customer requirements.
Total number of employees reaches 246
£275,000 invested in two 35 tonne flour silos to be erected on the Bakery 2 site.
£400,000 invested in a further roll plant (cost) along with £60k to set up a crossing station for Hot Cross Buns.
Christmas came early this year, with the unveiling of our new packaging.