Every good story needs a double act: Batman and Robin, Rachel and Monica, Jack and Victor. But none were quite as good as the famous Burnett brothers, John and William. Originally from Dundee, these determined young chaps embarked on their greatest adventure in 1898, when they took over the bakery of William Milne & Sons of 29 High Street, Inverness.
The Burnett craftsmen paved the way for future bakes with their selection of breads, biscuits, pies and cakes. And for those who were more affluent, the boys handcrafted elegant wedding cakes, again marking the way for our very own Harry Gow celebration cakes.
It wasn’t quite the Batmobile, but in 1914 Burnett’s Bakery hit the road with its very first motorised van. Nowadays you will see a number of Harry Gow vans travelling across the Highlands and Moray, delivering freshly baked goods to our local stores and our partners at Coop.
In 1955, it was time for our third generation of Burnett lads, also named John and William, to take the reins. It was during this time that our very own Harry Gow learnt his craft as an apprentice before eventually stepping into the shoes of confectionery manager. Here’s young Harry himself working hard and mastering that intense concentration.
Meet Michael Gourlay. Taking pride of place next to his friend, Michael was Harry’s right-hand man and was there, standing by his side as the doors opened to the new Harry Gow bakery. Embarking on a 30-year journey together, Michael served as production manager until his retirement in 2009. A loyal friend and colleague to Harry, he holds a special place in our history.
From student to master, Harry is seen here with young apprentice Calum in the days of big hair and bold rimmed glasses - they hadn’t heard of hair nets in those days either! Calum, now a master himself, is a whizz when it comes to designing, building and crafting the cake of your dreams and with 30 years of experience… he’s certainly had a lot of practice!
The bakery and shop in the days before the luxury of tarmac!
The drive to succeed. One of Harry Gow’s walk-on takeaway vans. Who doesn’t love some meals on wheels?!
The baking boom! Demand for Harry Gow products soared, meaning an expansion to the portacabin that would now be the home of the confectionery.
Our chocolate isn’t the only amazing product to come from Belgium. In fact, you might just recognise our very own fresh-faced David Gow who completed an apprenticeship in Belgium in the early 90s. This opportunity gave David the chance to not only enhance his knowledge and skills, but more importantly, he discovered just how delicious Belgian chocolate really is! I think it’s safe to say that we are all very grateful for that experience, David!
As the year 2000 came to an end, the Queen of Pop, Madonna, was set to wed in the Scottish Highlands and what better way to thank those involved in her special day than with some cake? Cue: Harry Gow! That’s right, here we are back in 2000 with a handcrafted grand piano cake. This elegant, sculpted cake is believed to have been made as a gift for one of her performers. (Word has it, it was for Sting!) The pictures of it even went worldwide!
One of our many fundraising evenings demonstrating artisan bread and fine gateaux work.
Here at Harry Gow we’re passionate about supporting not only our local communities, but also those in need of help and support throughout the UK. Here’s pictures from a fundraising event for Macmillan Cancer Support in 2002. Guests of the event were treated to in-house demonstrations of artisan breadmaking and the delicacy of fine gateaux work.
Harry was named Epilepsy Scotland Employer of the Year 2003, presented by our very own Scottish Queen, Jackie Bird. The award highlighted Harry’s compassion and determination to help epilepsy sufferers in the working environment, accommodating their needs and allowing them to feel safe in their roles.
Here we are celebrating yet another award, this time as the first ever Scottish Baker of the Year in 2012... presented by none other than Paul Hollywood! A special moment for our Harry Gow family as we celebrated the culmination of hard work and commitment shown by Harry throughout his 60+ years in the business and the friends, family and staff that helped him get there. More importantly, we were told Harry received a coveted Hollywood handshake at the after party. Now that’s something to celebrate!
2015 brought about a fresh new look to the Harry Gow brand. Rolling out our brand-spanking-new image throughout all our shops, on all our delivery vehicles, and across our entire product range, Harry Gow grew from strength to strength. As for Harry, he celebrated his 80th birthday with the rest of the Gow family and all his friends and, as you can see, nothing was going to slow him down.
Another year, another award-winning success. Once again, team Harry Gow brought home the Best Cake in Scotland with the perfect pineapple tart. Not only that, but our curry pie came away with the Best Savoury in Scotland for the second year in a row! I think it’s fair to say these guys have the pie of the tiger… too much?!
Not only were we busy winning awards, but we were also expanding our business with Harry Gow products now being stocked in Co-ops throughout the Highlands of Scotland. Today we have a total of 34 stores selling our homemade bakes.
We also like to share in your success. That’s why we made sure that we had plenty of dream rings at the ready for the cyclists that completed the Etape Loch Ness, one of Scotland’s most popular sporting events. In fact, we’d say that they were that popular people were racing to get their hands on one - get it, racing?
How do we say this without sounding too boastful? WE WON! But this time we won not one... not two… but three Scottish Baker of the Year awards including Best Cake for our scrumptious strawberry tarts, Best Savory for everyone’s favourite curry pie, and Best Celebration Cake which simply summed up how we felt - ready to celebrate!
And what better way to end our journey for now, than with yet another iconic win! Yes, that’s right, our friends at the Scottish Baker of Year Awards must be getting fed up with us by now, but here we are winning the grand award of Scottish Baker of the Year for the second time, making us the first and only bakery to have won it twice! What an achievement for our team!