Tucked away in the rural village of North Scarle, Lincolnshire, sits the home of James Cook his wife Vicky, their daughter, Martha and newest member to The Ticklebelly family, Seth.
Taught by Mum, Julie, James began learning what was to become his craft and his career at the age of 3. Julie herself had been taught much by her Grandmother who baked every day and whose sweet pastry recipe the bakery still uses today.
It was a cold and rainy day...
One rainy day in October 2010, both finding themselves between jobs and with the
recession biting hard, Julie looked out at a somewhat derelict garage in James' garden
and said quite casually, "I know, why don't we turn that garage into a bakery".
Though James was sceptical at first, the more the conversation went on, the more the idea
grew on him. By the end of the afternoon the pair had well and truly lit the fuse!
The plot thickens...
The next few months were full of planning and plotting and baking and recipe making, ensuring everything was in place for the new venture. Having decided that the plans to alter the garage were just too expensive to begin with, they sought permission to run the bakery from the home kitchen, turning the dining room into the shop.
The Origins of Ticklebelly Lane...
It was now early March 2011 and things were progressing nicely, the powers that be were happy (Vicky included) and all that was left was to come up with a name. Days came and went, still no name came to mind. Then suddenly James remembered a name he saw 4 years previous on the old house deeds. There was once a little public lane that ran down the north side of the house, legend has it that farmer used to run their pigs down this lane and in the summer when the grass in the middle of the lane was long, it would tickle the bellies of the pigs.
Its name was Ticklebelly Lane! "How about calling it, The Ticklebelly Lane Bakery?" James said. The name was set!
Now to the really big thing - when to open! Knowing that they would need to advertise somehow, James set about organising flyers and business cards to hand out to people, hoping to spark some interest. Julie, meanwhile, had other ideas.
The phone rings...
Siting comfortably, designing the new bakery website, James heard the phone ring - it was his Mum. "Helloooo" he answered, weary from being sat in front of a computer screen all day. "I've done something" came the immediate reply. "Done what" asked James, thinking she'd reversed the car into another wall! "I've booked you in to the Collingham Fair next weekend", said Julie, sounding rather sheepish at this point. "Errrrmmm, you did what now??" came James' slightly confused and mildly petrified response.
Push came to shove and a week or so later the day before the Fair arrived. That night James set to baking like mad with just a couple of bowls, a small oven and an excited spring in his step. The morning arrived and an exhausted James had managed to bake around 50 or so loaves plus a few other things. His Dad, Richard and brother, Jack arrived early and helped him load the car, then off the went.
Just three and a half hours later, James and Vicky, who had volunteered to help him for the day, looked down at their stall only to see that they had sold out completely, worst still, dozens of people were coming in wanting more, some of them were even coming back for seconds and thirds! It wasn't long before every flyer, business card and scrap of paper that could fit the phone number on were gone too.
The leap of faith...
Having admitted that maybe Mum had come up with a good idea, and with the phone constantly ringing with people wanting more, it was decided that the following weekend would be the one they opened, no advertising, no warning, just bake like mad, open the door and see what happens! So, 5 days later, they cleared the dining table, filled it full of bakery goodness and opened the door. The smell of freshly baked bread and buttermilk scones did the rest and before long passers by were wandering in to sample the delights the family had on offer.
If you build it they will come!
Just several months later it was clear that the bakery could no longer fulfil its potential working from a domestic kitchen so the decision was made to knock down the old garage and sheds in the back garden and build a purpose built bakery to take the company to the next level. A couple of years and many planning meetings later the new Ticklebelly Lane Bakery was built and opened it's doors to the public in October 2014.
The original plan was to to stay and grow for 5 years and then see what direction to go in, however, the business grew faster than expected and after just 2 years it was time once again to expand!
The City calls...
In 2017 the opportunity to open a new bakery on Guildhall Street in the centre of Lincoln arose.
We grasped the opportunity and ran with it, and after a year of ups and downs and nothing short of an adventure our time in the City came to an end.
The journey continues...
What started as nothing more than an idea and just £40 one rainy back in 2011 has now become a company that will continue to grow and shine, a company that is made not of bricks and mortar, not even of bread and cakes, but of the people who helped to build it and continue to make it what it is today.
You can find us in our Bakehouse now, baking away to supply the finer establishments of Lincoln and the surrounding areas with the best Artisan produce we can make. Our Experience Days and special events are still as popular as ever and we are planning to attend local markets and show too including the Christmas Food and Gift Fair at the Showground in December.
So now you know our history, why not subscribe below become part of our future!
We look forward to seeing you!