DescriptionCharles Lee, owner of a chain of baker's shops in the south of England, first came to Wokingham on 1st January 1930. Premises at 3 Denmark Street that had been standing empty for some time was acquired, renovated and had ovens installed. C. Lee & Sons opened for business early in 1931.
Originally all the bread was made by hand before some hand operated machines were installed. Three types of bread were baked, the tin loaf, the cottage loaf and the coburg, supplemented with crumpets during the winter and hot cross buns at Easter.
Charles died in May 1934 and was buried in St. Paul's Churchyard.
Orders were delivered to customers by motor cycle and sidecar until just before the Second World War when it was replaced by a converted van. This became useful during the war as Lees was awarded a contract to supply British troops in Arborfield Garrison and Dutch soldiers stationed in Easthampstead Park. To cope with the increased business, Lees purchased larger premises at 15 Denmark Street.
When bread rationing was introduced Charles Lee's son Harold was appointed Area Bread Officer. Petrol rationing made life difficult and bicycles were used for deliveries when possible.
After the war, 1 Denmark Street became available and became the bread shop and the original building was let out as a children's clothing shop. A restaurant was also opened above the shops. A Wilfred Bailey was made a partner in the company.
The business continued to prosper and larger premises were acquired in Peach Street,, which had previously been a large furniture shop. Modern equipment was installed in the new premises and the restaurant was also moved to the new premises and was named "Oakingham Restaurant".
Bread making demonstrations and customers invited to make their own bread became popular, customers purchasing the bread that they had made after dining in the restaurant.
Harold Lee died on 29th October 1969 and Charles Lee's son, Don retired and sold the business in 1977 to Wilfred Bailey and family.
In 1980, to mark the company's fiftieth anniversary a poster depicting the range of breads and rolls produced by Lees (now numbering twenty-three) was presented to customers.
After Wilfred Bailey's death his sons Graham and Ray took over and in 1982 moved the bakery to Church Street, Crowthorne. In March 1990, they sold the bakery to John Williams of Streatly, who took over the shops in Wokingham, Crowthorne, Woodley, Lower Early and Reading. The third brother retained ownership of five shops in and around Maidenhead.
“Lee's Bakery,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed September 20, 2020, https://www.wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0342.