History of the Bakehouse
Fondly known by locals as the Old Bakehouse, the original building was built in 1938 by Ernest and Vera Mansfield. They had moved to the region in 1928 to manage the Margaret River Bakery for Bob Lesley, soon after buying it and apparently being the only bakers from Busselton to Augusta for many years. George Dines, who had been Ern’s apprentice, was put in charge at Cowaramup. In 1944 after their eldest 3 children returned from war service, they sold the Margaret River Bakery to George Dines, gave the Cowaramup Bakery to son Fred and retired to live in Perth. The property changed hands many times over the following years. Various owners added their own additions and alterations, but ultimately the building needed to be stripped back and have a thorough renovation to bring it back to its former glory.
New owners Shannon & Clayton did just that when they purchased the property in mid 2015. Hardly a stone was left unturned, one job led to another and the renovations went on for 20 long months. Recycled materials were aquired and put to new use. Interesting items and unique pieces of furniture were sourced and up-cycled to match the vision in mind. Old coins and bits and pieces were discovered beneath the floors. While the locals waited patiently for the restaurant to open tales were told from times long since past, such as when the horse and cart would deliver lunches from the Bakehouse to the local primary school just across the road.
Inside the restaurant space, entered off the Bakehouse laneway, the large wood fired Metters Bakers Oven had lain idle since the 1960's, when the property ceased to operate as a bakery. Perhaps one of the last remaining few of its kind, the oven is the heart and soul of this entire property and in its day could bake 280 loaves of bread at any given time. The original timber paddle is still in place, once used to place risen dough onto firebricks and remove delicious, warm fresh bread. With a few minor oven repairs taken care of, the aroma of wood smoke increasingly wafts from the red brick chimney and out into the laneway. Oven trials of potted bread (loaves baked in terracotta flower pots) have been successful and well received by our local fans. With random tasty creations such as Pumpkin, Zucchini & Yoghurt, Banana, Date & Walnut, Jalapeno & Corn, and even a Bloke's Bread (Beer, Bacon & Chilli), the potted breads have been a hit. Keep an eye on our Facebook Page for when the bread is in the oven and be quick so you don't miss out!
History in the Making
The three guest rooms at Bakehouse '38 were finally completed in April 2017. Thanks to the new owners fastidious renovations and attention to detail, the result is a property with rooms which are quite unlike any others you would find anywhere. A singer sewing machine stand as a vanity base, old partially burnt doors from the since demolished Reef Hotel in Bunbury as a bedhead, kerosene lamps and old steel wheels as pendant lighting. Every item sourced and used each has its very own story which just adds further charm to the historic building itself.
We are currently working to perfect the use of the big Metters Oven. Shannon's recipes for slow-cooked comfort foods are being developed and refined as we make preparations to open the restaurant doors...
This historic oven is the main reason Shannon was interested in purchasing the property. With around 20 years of cheffing experience in the Margaret River region, plus time cooking in mining camps and on isolated pearl farms, there was a sense that it was time for the couple to start out on their own venture. Having started out in hospitality in a local winery hand labelling wine bottles in a musty cellar, Shannon had come a long way. An employer’s request to help with washing dishes soon led to waitressing, being a kitchen hand, becoming a chef and before too long managing the restaurant. A distinctly creative person, in the years since Shannon has worked as Head Chef in many local restaurants and exhibited her art to much applause. Clayton is an electrician by trade, he had worked in mine sites all over WA and locally and was feeling he needed a career and lifestyle change. A musician, a published author and an inspired creative, Clayton looked forward to taking on a new challenge. With a vision to make the Bakehouse a popular place where locals and tourists alike can enjoy good times and great food, the couple have embarked on a monumental journey to bring the Bakehouse back!