From Biscuit Beginnings to Modern Marvel: The Arnott Family's Historic Morpeth Bakehouse
Arnott's biscuits, an Australian household name for 160 years, have a fascinating origin story.
The historic Arnott's bakehouse in Morpeth, where it all began, still operates under the family's ownership.
A Family Legacy
- Steve Arnott, inspired by his family's legacy, purchased the bakehouse in Morpeth in 2001.
- Formerly an antique store, Steve and his wife Allison transformed it into a bakery, keeping the tradition alive.
- Steve, a sixth-generation baker, felt compelled to continue the family's baking heritage.
Restoring the Past
- Steve and Allison undertook the restoration of Australia's oldest scotch oven, located in the Morpeth bakery.
- Scotch ovens are wood-fired commercial ovens with a distinctive arched ceiling, made of bricks.
- The oven in the Morpeth bakery was used to bake the first Arnott's biscuits in 1847, albeit different from the current offerings.
From Humble Beginnings
- William Arnott, the founder, emigrated from Scotland and established his first bakery on the Hunter River in Morpeth in 1847.
- Morpeth, a bustling river port, served as a destination for ships from the UK and the Americas, creating high demand for Arnott's ships biscuits.
- Despite floods, William relocated to Newcastle in 1865 and expanded his business, ultimately founding the famous Arnott's Steam Biscuit Factory in 1875.
Building an Empire
- By the late 1880s, Arnott's had become one of Newcastle's largest employers, with over 300 staff producing a range of biscuits, including the iconic Milk Arrowroot.
- In 1894, the first Sydney factory was established, solidifying Arnott's position as a biscuit empire.
- Arnott's continued to grow and diversify its product range, captivating consumers worldwide.
The Present and Beyond
- Steve and Allison have transitioned from full-time baking to teaching others the art of making sourdough.
- The bakehouse now operates as a guesthouse, showcasing the Arnott's memorabilia collected over the years.
- The future of the Arnott family's involvement in Morpeth remains uncertain, as Steve's son pursues a different career path.
- However, Steve remains optimistic, acknowledging that his own baking journey began later in life, leaving room for future generations.
Legacy and Change
- While the Arnott's family tradition in Morpeth may evolve, the Arnott's Biscuit company itself was acquired by the Campbell Soup Company in 1997.
- The legacy of Arnott's biscuits lives on, with the Morpeth bakehouse serving as a testament to their rich history.