Farewell to Oat Cuisine as Hole in the Wall shuts up shop

The world’s last traditional oatcake shop has closed its doors for the final time – marking the end on an era following council plans to demolish the premises.

The Hole in the Wall oatcake shop in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, was flooded with customers after news emerged that it would close.

The 115-year-old terrace house, which has served oatcakes through its front window since the 1920s, has become an iconic building on Waterloo Street.

Despite the shop’s popularity, current owner Glenn Fowler had no choice but to sell the premises following plans to redevelop the area as part of Renew North Staffordshire’s regeneration programme.

Mr Fowler, who has run the shop for nearly thirty years with his wife Sue, said

It has been tremendous to see this much support for the shop, if only the council could come and see this.

It seems as though there has been no thought in developing anything, all it seems to be is ‘Knock it down and we’ll think about it later.

More than 5,000 people signed a petition to save the shop in 2008, when news emerged that it would face demolition.

Mr Fowler was offered a move into new premises but said the costs were too high and instead settled for compensation.

Lee Carroll, 50, who has worked at the shop for the last ten years, has been particularly affected by the regeneration programme.

He said

Unfortunately for myself, I lost my house because they demolished it, I lost my full time job and now I’ve lost my part time job as well.

So thanks to the regeneration, I’m now on the dole. It’s really ironic when you think about it, but it’s one of those things.

Customers brought flowers and cards to the shop in order to thank the owners for their 30 years of service.

Among the crowd was 51-year-old Clare Harrison, the granddaughter of the original owners Lydia and Absalom Evans.

She added

it’s very emotional coming back here, it’s still such a good business and you can tell that by all of the people here today.

My grandfather gave my dad the original recipe for the oatcakes served here, although I’m not sure if it’s the same one they use today, only taste will tell.

As Glenn took down the front sign for the last time, the remaining customers gave an impromptu round of applause.

Ashley King, 27, said

I’ve been coming here since I was two years old, and I remember coming down here on my little pedal bike every Sunday.

It’s a very sad day, and I can’t imagine buying oatcakes from anywhere else.

Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, said

Clearing the land makes it a much more attractive proposition for potential developers. In the summer we will be holding a development design competition for developers to come up with proposals for how the area will be redeveloped.

We are all very grateful for everything Glenn has done to the local economy and we wish him all the best in the future.

As a final send off, Glenn added

I just want to say thank you to all of our customers and for all the years they’ve been trading with us – we’ve loved every minute of it.

Did you get your oatcakes from the Hole in the wall? Give us your thoughts and memories.

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