Who remembers buying an elephant's foot bun from the Fletcher's van on the streets of Sheffield?

In years gone by, many children across Sheffield loved catching sight of a Fletcher’s van because it meant a delicious treat such as an elephant’s foot bun might soon be on the way.

Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 3:00 pm

The popular dessert was a large choux bun with chocolate slathered on the top and a dollop of cream in the middle – a bit like a giant, round eclair.

It was a treat favoured by many Sheffield children, who used to buy them from the fleet of Fletcher’s distinctive maroon and cream vans that operated as mobile shops across the city.

Fletcher’s custard tarts were also a big hit with shoppers.

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A Fletcher's van in Parson Cross in the late 1980s. Photograph: Pictures Sheffield

The vans sold Fletcher’s products, as well as groceries.

The company’s bread was not quite as popular with youngsters, who used to chant: “Fletcher’s Bread, tastes like lead, if you eat it you'll drop dead.”

But their vans were still very popular with Sheffield shoppers.

They have also been immortalised in the artwork of beloved Sheffield painter, Pete McKee in his 2009 book: “22 views of Sheffield.”

Grocery delivery man working on Mansel Road from his old Fletcher's Bakery van. Photograph: Pictures Sheffield

Pete’s sketch of the Fletcher’s van features a man stood behind his wooden flap-down counter at the back of the van.

“I recall the van pulling up on our road during the school holidays, and it was always the same order – a loaf and an apple charlotte for me.

"Having said that, sometimes I’d have an elephant’s foot,” said Pete, speaking in 2009.

And generations of Sheffielders were familiar with the firm’s advertising slogan of: “Better fetch a Fletcher’s loaf.”

Grocery delivery man working on Mansel Road from his old Fletcher's Bakery van. Photograph: Pictures Sheffield

George Henry Fletcher opened his first bakery in Sheffield in 1895, and Fletcher’s Bakeries Limited was later opened by George senior in 1930.

The firm’s Claywheels Lane site opened its doors in 1950.

The Wadsley Bridge factory was gutted by a fire in 2006, and as a result it lost 40 per cent of its production capacity.

It bounced back with a £7million plant in 2013, with two state-of-the-art production lines.

Grocery delivery man working on Mansel Road from his old Fletcher's Bakery van. Photograph: Pictures Sheffield

The company was sold by then chairman Paul Fletcher to Northern Foods in 1999, and Vision Capital took it over in 2007.

Today, the firm is owned by Finsbury Food Group and produces hundreds of millions of buns and rolls every year, as well as variety of other bakery products, for the UK retail and food service markets. It is also one of the leading producers of American muffins for the UK market.

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A fleet of Fletcher's vans

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Grocery delivery man David Self working on Mansell Road from his old Fletcher's Bakery van. Photograph: Pictures Sheffield