History of the Bakehouse Museum
The Millers Flat Bakehouse was built by Mr Louis Faigan who founded the township’s general store in 1892.
The first documented mention of the building is found in the Tuapeka Times, dated 13th June 1908. It was stated that “Mr Faigan of Millers Flat is making additions to his premises in the way of a bakery.” Presumably, Louis Faigan would have learned how a wood oven worked from his father Aaron, who was a baker.
On the 18th of July, a report in the Times said the bakery was “well forward with the oven being finished.” It was recorded that it was “a big acquisition and a decided improvement in the appearance of Millers Flat.”
On the 5th of September, the Tuapeka Times recorded that “Mr Faigan’s bakery is all but complete. The ovens are to the back of the building, and the front comprises a shop, tea, and refreshment room with seating capacity for 12 people.”
On the 21st of October, the Times stated that “tempting eatables and refreshments were supplied from Millers Flat’s new bakery, this being catering for an entertaining evening.”
The bakehouse is a wooden clad building that includes a substantial brick and stone oven and a bakery room to the rear. The tearoom and a small shop operated in the front room of the building.
Mr Nat Campbell (Snr) was one of the earliest bakers. He worked at the Ettrick Bakery before coming to Millers Flat. Louis Faigan’s daughters operated the Tearoom with bread and cakes being sold from the shop. In the early days, baked goods would have been delivered around the district in a horse and cart.
Mr Nathaniel Campbell (Jnr) took over the business in 1919. He learned his trade at the Kaikorai Bakery in Dunedin. He trained some of his family as bakers and his daughters, Claire, Ruby, and Iris worked in the very popular Tearooms.
1939 saw the lease transferred to Mr Frank Vercoe of Roxburgh. The making of bread was shifted to Roxburgh, and the lease was not renewed.
Two local women, Phyllis Peak (nee McDonald) and Daisy Lister (nee Orr) remember being employed as waitresses during the period when the tearooms were operated by Mr Vercoe.
During World War 2 the building was used as a storage place for the local home guard.
For many years after the war ended, Ivan Faigan, (son of Leopold) who had been a radio operator during the war, used the front part of the building as a hobby radio repair workshop.
Joe Faigan used an area to craft wooden toys for children with his paint tins stored in the old ice cream cabinet. Leopold Faigan washed bottles there using a copper to heat water, and Teepol was used as soap.
Bottles were rinsed in a second tin bath and placed, top downward, in a rack to dry. They were refilled with turpentine or kerosene, an early recycling enterprise.
The bakery remained as it was when the last baker finished and many of the items on display are original to the building.
Following the sale of the shop to the community, the Bakehouse remained unused. A meeting was called in 1991 to gauge interest in restoring the building. The restored building is believed to be the only working example of an early 20th-century bakery in New Zealand.
Therefore, it is a unique point of difference that we hope will help attract visitors to Millers Flat.
Official opening of the fully restored Bakehouse – 28 October 2019
Please click here to view the folder of photos from the open day.