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We're baking real bread!

The Millers Flat Bakehouse and Museum is baking bread on the first Saturday in each month. Pop along and for $5 enjoy a loaf made the time-honoured way and baked in the oldest functional brick oven in the country.
Groups are always welcome to tour the bakehouse and for $10 each, you can enjoy a private, guided tour of the bakehouse and take home a loaf fresh from the oven.


Welcome to the Bakehouse Museum in Millers Flat

Located in the heart of Millers Flat, you can’t miss the museum building right next door to Faigan’s Cafe. The Bakehouse Museum is run by the local community who volunteer their time to open and close the museum as well as sell a few local crafts. The museum has been totally restored back to it’s forma glory even with a working oven! Please do come in and visit. Entry is free but all donations are very welcome.

Opening hours

To view outside our hours, or if the building is unattended, please phone or email:

      • Julie Asher 027 882 1333, email: asher.julie@gmail.com
      • Deirdre 027 479 2525
      • Hilary 027 414 8999
      • millersflatbakehouse@gmail.com

History of the Bakehouse Museum

The Millers Flat Bakehouse was built by Mr Louis Faigan who had founded the general store in the township in 1892. The first documented mention of the building is found in the Tuapeka Times dated 13th June 1908. It was stated that “Mr Faigan of Millers Flat is making additions to his premises in the way of a bakery.” Presumably Louis Faigan would have learned how a wood oven worked from his father Aaron, who was a baker.

Outside of the Bakehouse Muesum in Millers Flat (1)

On the 18th of July a report in the Times said the bakery was “well forward with the oven being finished.” It was recorded that it was “a big acquisition and a decided improvement in the appearance of Millers Flat.”

On the 5th of September the Tuapeka Times recorded that “Mr Faigan’s bakery is all but complete. The ovens are to the back of the building, and the front comprises a shop and tea and refreshment room with seating capacity for 12 people.”

On the 21st of October the Times states that “tempting eatables and refreshments were supplied from Millers Flat’s new bakery, this being catering for an entertainment evening.”

The bakehouse is a wooden clad building which includes a substantial brick and stone oven and a bakery room to the rear. The tearoom and a small shop operated in the front room of the building.

Mr Nat Campbell (snr) was one of the earliest bakers. He worked at the Ettrick Bakery before coming to Millers Flat. Louis Faigan’s daughters operated the Tearoom with bread and cakes being sold from the shop. In the early days baked goods would have been delivered round the district in a horse and cart.

Inside the Bakehouse Muesum in Millers Flat (1)

Mr Nathaniel Campbell (jnr) took over the business in 1919. He learned his trade at the Kaikorai Bakery in Dunedin. He trained some of his family as bakers and his daughters, Claire, Ruby and Iris worked in the very popular Tearooms. 1939 saw the lease transferred to Mr Frank Vercoe of Roxburgh. The making of bread was shifted to Roxburgh and the lease was not renewed.  Two local women, Phyllis Peak (nee McDonald) and Daisy Lister (nee Orr) remember being employed as waitresses during the period when the tearooms were operated by Mr Vercoe.

During World War 2 the building was used as a store place for the local home guard.

Sign at the Bakehouse Museum

For many years after the war ended, Ivan Faigan, (son of Leopold) who had been a radio operator during the war, used the front part of the building as a hobby radio repair workshop. Joe Faigan used an area to craft wooden toys for children with his paint tins stored in the old ice-cream cabinet. Leopold Faigan washed bottles there using a copper to heat water and Teepol was used as soap. Bottles were rinsed in a second tin bath and placed, top downward, in a rack to dry. They were refilled with turpentine or kerosene, an early recycling enterprise. The bakery remained as it was when the last baker finished and many of the items on display are original to the building. Following the sale of the shop to the community, the Bakehouse remained unused. A meeting was called in 1991 to gauge interest in restoring the building. The restored building is believed to be the only working example of an early 20th century bakery in New Zealand. It is therefore a unique point of difference which we hope will help to attract visitors to Millers Flat.

Inside the front of the Bakehouse Muesum in Millers Flat

Official opening of the fully restored Bakehouse – 28 October 2019

Please click here to view the folder of photos from the open day.

Restoration History of the Bakehouse

Article by Otago Daily Times 30 Sept 2019

The Millers Flat Bakehouse was closed down when the Roxburgh Hydro works started and Mr Vercoe did all the baking in Roxburgh after the installation of new electric ovens.

Back in 1991 a group attended the annual meeting of the Faigan Store Trust and asked for permission to restore the old Bakehouse as it was an eyesore when you came over the bridge. It was finally agreed and a committee was formed lead by Mrs Betty Adams to make progress in the restoration.

Getting funds was the main priority and on Sunday lunch time a meal was provided with an international theme and a guest speaker provided. These were held monthly but the profits were low so another angle was taken. Local farmers were asked to fatten calves and when ready were sent to the freezing works and sold. The Bakehouse Committee bought the calves off a Stock agent and agreeable farmers raised them. This was very profitable and raised a lot of cash. An approach to the C.O. Lakes Trust for funding was also undertaken but for some unknown reason, we could not access these funds. Upon some inquiry, we found we had to own the land the Bakehouse was on as it was still part of the Faigans Store Trust. The subdivision was done but left a small section for us.  After some lengthy delays, we finally had the title of the property in our name and funds could be allocated. Again more delays and this time after some backdoor detective work we found that our committee was too small so we had to co-op more committee members to the satisfaction of the Lakes Trust. This was done and funding was allocated, some $160,000. Delays again in getting a builder to start but it was consents for drainage and sewerage and since we only had a small section there was nowhere to go. We asked if we could tap into the Faigan’s Store septic tank but as this building was under option for sale we could not. However the neighbour on the South side was retired and his section became too big to manage and offered half of it to the Bakehouse Trust at a reasonable price to which we bought. This also gave us underground power access and water supply and an area for a septic tank.  It was all go. The builders started and a new quote had to be arranged and by this time the cost had gone up to $260,000. Again an approach to the Lakes Trust was made but because of the long delay in building our original grant had not been uplifted so we had to reapply for consent again. This was much easier as everything was in place. As part of the reconstruction and the funding criteria we had to keep the renovations within that time frame and that as much of the original material had to be reused in the work. Breen’s Construction who did the work have a department the reproduces copies of timbers to match the originals and this was a god send. Finally, after 28 years the Bakehouse will open Monday Labour Weekend 2019.

The oven is fully restored and in fine working order, there has been a couple of bake off of bread which came out well. It took five days to heat the oven with wood and coal to get the bricks hot so as to bake the bread off. As the day goes by the oven cools and baking is done to the heat of the oven so product that requires a high heat is baked off first and product that requires less heat is baked at the end of the working day.

It is not like electricity where you flick a switch and you have instant heat. Should you have to fire up during the day you cannot bake because of the ash settling on baking products so planning your bake off is premium.

As we have been testing things out to make sure everything is in working order it is quite interesting to hear comments from those who stick their head in the door and what their expectations are. This is a period in time before electricity, no electric lights, no electric mixers, just candles and a fire.

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3 Reviews

Comments

  • Paul Kerr
    Rating

    I first visited Millars Flat in early ’15 when I had to great lick to meet Betty and William Adams. I learned about the restoration project and visited again in ’17 and on a return cycle from Someones Darling grave had a lovely encounter with “two Thumbs” and his singing dog. Also , and had dined with Betty and William my brother and I met with Dennis of Jimmys Pies. Lovely photos of restoration and am sending a Christmas card to Betty. Please past on to her or family, if it lands with you.
    Best regards from Ireland and may get to call in about four years.

    Paul

    16/12/2019

  • caroline
    Rating

    I visited the BakeHouse yesterday 25.1.2020 with the Good Company bus trip, we all came away with a lovely loaf of warm bread which most of us would be having for tea. The history is so interesting as was told by a nice man. I also got a lovely jar of boiled lollies as yet I have still got to open. Thank you. Caroline

    26/01/2020

  • Terry Johnson
    Rating

    Yesterday (4/08/20) 22 of our Catlins Senior Citizen’s Club members visited the Millers Flat bakery/museum and were treated extra well by Rick, Deirdri and Barbara. They all made us feel very welcome and gave us an excellent run down on the history of the Bakery and Rick told us all about his “experience” in bread making. A great collection of bakery implements and appliances from the old days, some of which are still useful today. On behalf of our Club I would very much like to thank all 3 of you for a special afternoon and friendship. All those involved in this restoration project can be very proud. Thank you, we will spread the word. Cheers. Terry

    05/08/2020

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Contact info

3 Craig Flat Road, Millers Flat 9572, New Zealand

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