A bakery is appealing to the public to support the treasured institution.

Hunters, on Church Road, has been in operation for 119 years and Alicia Barlow, who took over ownership two years ago, is eager for it to continue.

The Bolton News: Alicia Barlow with Megan MannAlicia Barlow with Megan Mann

Inspired by its longevity, and a desire to help preserve the fabric of Bolton’s proud history, Alicia decided to invest in the business.

“We bought it from the Hunter family. They had a buyer but that fell through so we stepped in and saved the day, and they trusted us to move it forward into the 21st century.

“Rather than come in and change everything, we wanted to retain our loyal staff and suppliers, continue sourcing local ingredients and carry on using the traditional methods. Our main job is to promote Hunter’s and raise awareness of just how special it is.”

Satisfying traditional tastes while introducing innovative lines has been a recipe for success for the business.

The Bolton News: A proud and passionate Alicia.

“We still make the old favourites, like Manchester tarts and vanilla slices, but we’ve linked up with Bella’s Bakes who makes cakes with a twist. It’s the perfect blend of old and new.”

Under Alicia’s stewardship, the upgrade to premier products includes an impressive and extensive range of artisan breads.

For regular Megan Birnie, a trip to Hunters is an opportunity to savour nostalgia, as well as the delicious products.

“My gran used to treat me to a trip here when I was little, and as a teenager, me and my friends used to sneak to Hunters in our lunch hour.”

Bringing her business acumen to the bakery, Alicia has harnessed the power of social media to widen the customer base across Bolton and beyond.

“We recently had a customer who made a detour on her journey from Newcastle to London because she used to live in the area!”

She added: “I’ve done some research and, historically, it’s been a bakery since 1905. For a period, it was owned by Mollie Bentham, a well-known figure in the area. There have only been a handful of owners, and that’s quite rare for a business.”

It’s testament to the personal touch, a service which extends to home deliveries by the gentlemanly 79-year-old Malcolm Morris in the company’s liveried van.

“We also cater for buffets and corporate events, and we recently tried out butter pies – a delicious meat-free offering for Good Friday. It went down so well that we’ve decided to put it on as a line.”

The Bolton News: Hunters the Bakers

Central to bakery’s ethos is a two-way communication with customers.

“I could sit here and dictate what our customers want, but that’s not how I work. We’ve surveyed customers, reached out on socials to find out what they want and what they think of the service and the products, and acted on the feedback.

“We’re all struggling in the current financial climate and although prices have to be realistic, we do offer discounts and promotion days.

“We’ve even extended our opening hours to cater for more people.

“I am so passionate about the business and I just hope that the public are aware of us and give us all the support they can.”

Hunters is based on Church Road, Smithills, BL1 6HE. The bakery has put on a number of special offers for customers, to help them as well as increase footfall, which has fallen as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite.

Bella's Bakes, run by a mother and daughter have teamed up Hunters The Bakers.

Bella’s Bakes, which is based in Eagley – has worked with Hunters The Bakers in Halliwell previously to raise money for Children in Need in support of Vernon Kay.

Isabella, Riding, 21, runs Bella’s Bakes with her mum Natalie, and they join the bakery on the last Friday of every month from 3pm until 6.30pm.