Yesterday the Romford Recorder reported that the family-owned east London bakery chain Percy Ingle is going to cease trading. The bakery closed in response to the lockdown in March, but reopened a number of its locations across London and Essex on May 13.
The bright orange-and-green Percy Ingle bakeries are known for affordable produce, with window displays full of glazed doughnuts (6 for £1), bright pink tottenham cake, viennese chocolate fingers, and belgian buns smothered in thick, white, sugary icing. Last year, the company began a rebrand. Some of its stores were redecorated with a dark green frontage and renamed Ingles. They had also adopted a more environmentally friendly focus by reducing plastic usage and switching to biodegradable cups.
Percy Ingle has been operating in east London since 1954, but the bakery’s history goes all the way back to 1910, when Joseph and Kathleen Engel (who were both of German descent) opened a German bakery on Clarence Road in Hackney. The Engels’ business was later destroyed not long after the First World War, as a result of hostility towards the German community in London.
Joseph and Kathleen changed their last name to Ingle, and it was their son, Percy, who launched the first of the eponymous bakeries, again on Clarence Road in Hackney, in 1954. Another side to the bakery’s history was recently raised on Twitter, pointing out that Percy Ingle was brought to court in 1983 over an investigation involving its racist hiring practices. Since 2010, the bakeries have been managed by Percy’s grandsons, Paul and Michael.
Once the news was announced, many Londoners expressed their regret on social media at Percy Ingle’s reported closure. Percy Ingle has yet to release an official statement, so it is unclear how staff will be affected. Romford Recorder reported that ‘The stores in Bethnal Green, Bow, Poplar, Canning Town, Plaistow, Stratford, Ilford, Forest Gate, East Ham, Dagenham, Barking, Upton Park, Barkingside, Romford, Hornchurch, Collier Row and Harold Hill are among those to close.’
Earlier today, a petition called Save Percy Ingle was launched on Change.org, stating that, ‘Smaller companies like Percy Ingle also give local areas such as East London and Essex more of their own individual retail identity and character which is worthy of preservation as well for social and cultural reasons’.
Time Out contacted Percy Ingle for comment on the closures.
Sadly, many of London's restaurants and bars won’t reopen after lockdown. Find out more here.
London’s pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, museums, galleries and cinemas can reopen from July 4.