Taste of Shropshire: Event to relaunch 200-year-old gingerbread recipe in Market Drayton

An event is being held as part of the relaunch of a 200-year-old gingerbread recipe in its home town of Market Drayton.

Billington’s Gingerbread, which dates back to 1817, was made in until 2004 when it was relocated to Yorkshire by the McCarthy family.

Billington’s original recipe has been passed down from baker to baker and has always been kept a closely-guarded secret.

But now Image on Food, which is based on the Burnside business park, Market Drayton, is re-launching under licence, the heritage gingerbread biscuit brand.

Kerry Ellerton and Kate Conlon have a taste

Billington’s Gingerbread is to re-launch with a brand new packaging design on June 28 between 9.30am and 1.30pm under the Buttercross in Cheshire Street.

The Billington’s team will be dressed in traditional costume to emulate a traditional 19th century market scene, in commemoration of their bicentennial anniversary year, and will also be hosting a gingerbread and port tasting event with Tanners Wine Merchants from 11.30am to 1.30pm on the day.

Also present between 9.30am and 10.30am will be the current artisan baker, Tim Hopcroft, the previous baker and owner of Billington’s Gingerbread, Terry McCarthy, and the baker who preceded him, John Hayward-Hughes.

Billington’s Gingerbread

Tanners Wine Merchants will be there on the day offering the opportunity to dunk the celebrated Billington’s Gingerbread into a glass of Tanners Vintage Port.

Dunking gingerbread in port is a tradition which dates back to the 19th century, when the farmers’ wives of Market Drayton used to enjoy ‘dunking’ their gingerbread in port on market day.

Alex Chidley-Uttley, of Tanners Wine Merchants, said: "It’s exciting to be part of the re-launch of Billington’s Gingerbread, Tanners are 175 years old this year a fully engrained in the county. It’s good to see historic companies flourishing."

Previously handmade, the gingerbread is now being baked and manufactured at the Image on Food headquarters by Mr Hopcroft, combining traditional skills with the most up-to-date baking equipment.

The Billington's Gingerbread tasting event held at the Festival Drayton Centre

Remarking on the re-launch of Billington’s Gingerbread, Mr Hopcroft said: "We are delighted to now be manufacturing Billington’s Gingerbread for sale in Market Drayton and the surrounding areas.

"Using the handed down secret Billington’s Gingerbread recipe, we have developed the method for manufacturing in our modern bakery, to create a biscuit which is consistent to the original product whilst also being recognisable to its fan base. We hope that it will be enjoyed locally as well as nationally in due course."

Image on Food Ltd has been producing hand crafted gingerbread novelties for over 30 years.

The company makes over 50 tonnes of gingerbread a year, employs over 50 local staff and provides novelties for companies such as Waitrose, John Lewis, The National Trust as well as coffee shops, farm shops, delicatessens and tourist attractions.

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