Martins Craft Bakers & Sandwich Makers has been a familiar name to Mancunians over many decades. The original Martin was one Richard Martin not, as might be supposed, a Lancastrian and a native of Manchester but instead a very far travelled man. Richard Martin was born in 1894, the son of Swiss confectioner Reinhart Martin and his wife Maria, in St Gallen in Switzerland.
The Swiss family Martin had four sons, one of whom eventually came to England. After training as an apprentice confectioner at Konditorei Weyer in St Gallen between 1911 and 1914 Richard settled down to work in Manchester at Sisson's Bakers in St Ann's Square. Richard Martin opened his own Swiss confectionery bakery in Moston on the Tuesday following his marriage to Nellie Brayzier on Easter Sunday 1922.
Martins offered an extensive range of continental confectionery, many made using the family recipes from Switzerland. Prices however were very different in those days - the first day's takings, a figure etched in Nellie Martins memory, came to one pound four shillings and three pence halfpenny. Just £1.23 in today's inflated decimal money, but then a fair day's takings given that in those days individual cakes generally sold for just one penny each. At Moston the newley-wed Martins lived above the shop Richard baking and Nellie selling.
In 1926, with two new babies in the family and just four year after starting their business, Richard and Nellie Martin moved to a new shop at 2 Worsley Avenue and built a new bakery at 32 Ivy Street. Business may have been good but life was difficult too; shops remained open until 6pm daily and 9pm on Saturdays. Delivery of orders was by tricycle with a box on the front and racked out to carry wooden trays. The younger family members were soon being roped in to help with deliveries. By 1939 wartime shortages led to the introduction of bread and yeast goods to the firm when chocolate rationing made the production of quality confectionery almost impossible.
In 1952 Richard Martin was joined by his younger son, also called Richard. By the time that Richard Martin senior retired in 1957 aged 63, after 35 years in the business, Richard Martin junior and his wife Pat enthusiastically embraced the family tradition, working hard for the future prosperity of Martins. A third shop was bought in 1958 for just £1750, giving more room for confectionery production at Ivy Street and allowing output to increase by 50%. In 1962 a shop at Failsworth was added to the growing chain and the following year another at Chadderton. In 1965 Martins opened on Church Street in Newton Heath bringing with it what were then phenomenal local bread sales.
Neil Martin joined the family firm in 1976 and in 1978 was followed by his brother Ian. That same year a new Martins shop was opened in Alkrington. By the 1980's Martins was becoming a major presence in Manchester growing from a chain of 6 shops to one of 19. In 1987, after 35 years, Richard Martin retired from full time work and his sons Neil and Ian became joint Managing Directors. In January 1994 the last baking took place at the firm's Ivy Street bakery and production was transferred to the 50,000 sq ft Mill at International House, Newton Heath.
Now with a total staff of over 200 Martins supplies 24 shops in the Greater Manchester area. The family connection is assured in the shape of Jenny, Neil's daughter, who represents the fifth generation and joined the firm full time in 2009.