Photo: © Ian Stuart
Football-fixated tourists find their way to Oakfield Road, Anfield, where they discover the superb hand-made pies sold at Homebaked Bakery, in the shadow of the Liverpool FC stadium. The fans simply call it “the Pie Shop”.
This long-established and celebrated bakery stands on the corner site of two terraced streets that not long ago were threatened with demolition.
Liverpool City Council has repeatedly and notoriously condemned solid artisan housing for redevelopment under the Housing Market Renewal Initiative (HMRI), dreamed up by John Prescott’s Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) in 2002.
Two particular examples, the Welsh Streets and Granby Street, both in Toxteth, aroused local people to protest against the deliberate neglect and destruction of houses that proved to be capable of economic renovation.
In Anfield, a similar HMRI began the clearance of nearly two thousand properties, intending to replace them with thirteen hundred new homes, until funding was cut and eventually the initiative was stopped by David Cameron’s coalition government in 2010, leaving the district in limbo.
Community anger and frustration about what amounted to government vandalism focussed on Mitchell’s Bakery, a long-standing family business much loved by neighbours and football fans alike.
Local people looked for a way to retain the bakery when it closed in 2011.
2Up2Down, a creative and social initiative led by the Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, empowered members of the Anfield community to revive the bakery and establish the Homebaked Bakery Co-operative in 2012.
The following year they created the Homebaked Community Land Trust to lease the building from the Mitchell family.
Later, Liverpool City Council took over the freehold and leased the bakery back to the Co-operative so that they could refurbish the long-abandoned upstairs flat as social housing.
From 2015 onwards this was extended into a larger project, Oakfield Terrace, an exciting scheme for the Trust to provide eight houses and accommodation for local businesses, driven by the intense involvement of local people in partnership with the City Council and development professionals.
All this exemplary community development is built on the pies and cakes that the bakers at Homebaked Bakery turn out daily.
An obvious favourite is the Beef Scouse pie, billed on the menu as “the staple dish of Merseyside”. There’s also a vegan version which must be the staple dish of vegan Merseyside.
But the star attraction is the Shankly. Its ingredients aren’t published: “We asked the Shankly family what his favourite dish was after a long day at Melwood, and it’s exactly what’s in our pie.”
When you eat at Homebased Bakery, or on the pavement walking to a match, you dine like football aristocracy.
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