Sunday, May 19, 2024

Village visitors in for baked treats

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Former local baker Jim Duckworth with Howick & Districts Historical Society Marin Burgess, centre, and Howick Rotary president Madeleine East near the new bread oven where heritage recipe bread will be made at the Howick Historical Village. Times photo Wayne Martin

A small opening ceremony at last Sunday’s Meet the Villagers open day at the Howick Historical Village marked the culmination of a project led by well-known former local baker Jim Duckworth of installing and operating a heritage recipe bread oven in the grounds of the village.

From the throngs of people trying out the various baked treats cooked in the oven, the project will be a great draw card for visitors epitomising the goal of open-air museums of bringing history to life.

In presiding over the ceremony president of the Howick & Districts Historical Society Marin Burgess said, “The Society and the public would like to thank Jim on multiple levels, the first being his farsightedness of using a pre-1850 heritage method of making bread with ferment as opposed to using yeast and then funding and supervising the installation of a special brick-lined oven so that visitors could enjoy the bread and other baked treats on village live days.

“Not only has Jim funded the oven and some of the materials for the structure including some beautiful thick macrocarpa planking to make the work and serving table, he has supervised its installation and has trained people in bread making and operating the oven.

“This live day baking project has helped to re-invigorate the village with visitors queuing for the baked treats. Absolutely wonderful.”

Duckworth said, “I have had a lot of enjoyment in developing the heritage recipe and bringing the overall project to fruition.

“The village had an oven but because of its design I could only ever cook scones in it. As it has fallen into disrepair. I wanted use my skills and experience as a baker to create something that would bring a lot of interest and enjoyment to village visitors.

“It has been a labour of love but I could not have done it without the considerable assistance of various groups involved. A great team effort. I am making the donation on behalf of Howick Rotary who have had a good working relationship with the village over many years”.

Whilst Duckworth was the main driver of the project, he was helped by society members and village staff, particularly vice president John Osborne, a group of volunteers involving current Rotarians Malcom Pascoe, Bill Charkow and Colin Monk and former Rotarian Ted Aislabie who also carries out many other tasks within the village.

The project also involved the Menzshed who took on the task of making a new kauri baking ‘peel’ that is used to load and unload the hot oven.

Howick Rotary president Madeleine East, who was at the ceremony helping to prepare the baked treats for visitors to eat, said, “It is wonderful that we have been able to support Jim and the village in achieving the joint goal of making heritage recipe bread and other baked treats available for visitors on live days and it is great to see the wide support that the project has had from all across the community.”

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