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From Trimsaran colliery to bakery empire

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Jenkins Staff: Including Fiona Snook (right) celebrate 95 years

Jenkins Staff:
Including Fiona Snook (right) celebrate 95 years

RUSSELL JENKINS is pretty modest in his concise history of the Jenkins Bakery empire. What started out 95 yea rs ago in a small shop in Station Road in April 1921 has since become one of the best known names for baked products in towns across Carmarthenshire and beyond.

Today, the company has 29 shops, 14 of which are in Carmarthenshire. They serve around 60,00 customers weekly. Not bad for the humble beginnings when a certain Mr. Jenkins was made redundant from a colliery in Trimsaran.

The fact that the mine had flooded and become uneconomic sparked a baking revolution in Llanelli, as the Jenkins family set about feeding what would have been a thriving industrial town.

Russell Jenkins doesn’t take any of it for granted as he proudly tells the story of how it all began: “Faced with redundancy and six children to feed, they bit the bullet and opened the ‘Unique Cafe’ in Station Road. It is still known as that by locals. There were plenty of hungry workers down there with lots of people going to Machynys and the industries around there.

Russell told us of a meeting of baking clans, which he says did not do the company any harm.

“My grandmother’s sister married a member of the Eynon’s bakery company in Swansea. They were doing well. Of course, you see and hear things and they decided to make a bakery as well.

“There were six siblings in the family. The elder boys would go to Eynon’s to work and train etc. Meanwhile at the cafe the family were making sandwiches cawl and stews. They used a hob for the stews and casseroles.

“They had a coke oven initially. They started with one shop and then as they began to do well they bought another next door

Speaking fondly of what his grand parents had built up Russell continued: “It was a very bold move to start a business in those days. They worked very hard. They opened before six to catch the shift workers and it would be open until late at night, as well.

“I have worked hard, but back then it was really hard work. We are lucky in that we have a strong management team to keep us going.”

We asked Russell if he had any thoughts on how Llanelli Town Centre has fallen into such decline. He said: “It is sad to see the town centre as it is as a local person. You remember how prosperous the whole town was. Trostre is prosperous, but the town centre is not. People can still take up a store at the market and that is the best way for trying out a business. I’m afraid that any retailer walking through the town today wouldn’t want to invest.”

While Jenkins Bakery are still making many of the products they started out, Russell studied bakery and food technology at Cardiff Met. However the company still use many of the old techniques.

Russell explained: “There will always be a demand for the traditional products we have made from the start. We still use a bake-stone, where the bread is hand moulded then baked on the hotplate. It is then put into the oven. The batter for the pancakes is still made by pouring it on the hot plate.

“The pies have been a main stay in the business as well as pasties, pancakes and custard slices. The pies are made now by machine but a lot are still made by hand because of high demand. We make the sponge for birthday cakes. We try to keep up with the times. Sandwiches and rolls are a big part of the business.”

Jenkins are renowned for providing cakes and biscuits for celebrating big events such as the Six Nations Rugby or the Football World Cup.

Russell told us: “The staff get together and plan ahead and look at what’s happening We create a biscuit or cake to celebrate the event. We have something coming out for the Euro Finals.”

He continued: “We have raised well over £50,000 over the last 5 years for cancer research and Children In Need. We also raise money for local societies”

Jenkins’ main bakery and office employ over 70 people. As a company they employ around 320 people.

Russell said: “We recognise long service and we have 70 people with ten years of service.

“Fiona Snook started as a Saturday girl and she has been with us for 25 years. My mum is still a director at 85. She is very proud and delighted at the way things have gone.

“We have expanded on the shop side. The unique thing is that we make the product, manufacture, distribute and sell. We rely on the shop managers to estimate what will happen from day to day.”

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Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened

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ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

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WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

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OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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