Eccles Cakes

Eccles cakes are a sweet pastry cake filled with dried fruits, usually currants and raisins, sugar, spices and sometimes butter.

The true origins of the cake are not known but the first recorded recipe for something like an Eccles Cake and called “sweet patties” was published by Elizabeth Raffald, housekeeper at Arley Hall, Cheshire in 1769 as part of a book of 800 recipes.  The recipe included boiled calf’s foot as well as dried fruit.

In 1793, James Birch opened a bakery in Eccles and started to sell cakes similar to Elizabeth Raffald’s sweet patties and they quickly became known as Eccles cakes. 

Eccles cakes proved very popular and were exported to Australia, America, the West Indies and Spain.  Alcohol was added (usually brandy or rum) as a preservative for exported cakes.

Eccles cakes do not have protected status as that afforded to Stilton cheese or Melton Mowbray pork pies, so they are made and sold in many countries across the world.

Few places make Eccles cakes commercially in Eccles now.  The major manufacturer is the Real Lancashire Eccles Cake company which is in Ardwick, Manchester.  A local commercial bakery, Quayside, on the Lyntown industrial estate beside the railway between Eccles and Patricroft stations is the largest producer locally in Eccles.  Two local small bakeries also make their own Eccles cakes: Law’s bakery on Parrin Lane, Winton, Eccles (near Monton church) and Wards Bakery on Barton Lane.

In 2004 and again in 2013, Eccles cakes made national headlines as Greggs bakery stopped selling Eccles cakes in all its shops, claiming there was no market for them, customers preferring chocolate cakes and muffins.  In 2013, during the Eccles Cake Festival, they again refused to stock them, even in their Eccles branch.

Lancashire Fire service have reported that Eccles cakes can catch fire if heated in a microwave oven, possibly due to the sugar content so if you prefer warm Eccles cakes, it is best to reheat them in the oven.

In the 2013 Eccles cake festival there was a competition called the “Great Eccles Cake-off” to find the best amateur bakers including the best Eccles cake.  The winner, a Mrs E Charnley of Eccles, received one dozen Eccles cakes as a prize (!)

So, love them or loathe them, call them dead fly cakes, fly pies, fly cemeteries, sweet patties, eat them hot or cold, from a famous chef recipe or an old favourite, enjoy this fine and tasty treat from Eccles, preferably one of the locally made ones!

Elizabeth Charnley is a Green Badge Guide for the Bridgewater Canal.

Check out her website to contact her directly.

Coal, Cotton and Canal Tour -COVID UPDATE

Event Postponement 07/11/2020

As the Government has advised that we are living in a second spike of Coronavirus [Covid-19], I have postponed the Coal, Cotton and Canal Tour at Lancashire Mining Museum scheduled for 07/11. Your ticket will be rolled over to a new date. This will be uploaded on the Bridgewater Guided Tours, Manchester Guided Tours webpages and my Eventbrite page as soon as government guidelines allow.

Event Cancellation
If the event can not be rescheduled, then you will be entitled to a full refund.
Thank you for bearing with me.

Staysafe #supportheritage

7th November 2020 Start time 1pm

Join me for a fun and factual walk exploring the secrets of the past of the Bridgewater Canal and its villages inc Astley Green and Chat Moss.
At Astley Green, we will walk through the village and there will be opportunity to look around the museum, see the last Pit Head Gear of the Lancashire Coalfield and take a break in the museum cafe​.
Using maps and visual aids, we’ll take a look at the village and hear its history. We’ll learn about nearby treasure hoards, headless bodies, skulls of martyrs, mining disasters and the Miners Cathedral.

We also explore the impact that the canal, coal and cotton had on local men women and children.

This tour will be approximately 2 miles and will take 1.5-2 hours.

On the day of your tour: Please arrive at the meeting place 10 minutes before the start of the tour.

Meetat gates of Lancashire Mining Museum

Astley Green Colliery M29 7JB

Booking and Cancellations:

Tour Tickets £12 per person which includes the booking fee. You are advised to buy tickets in advance as tours will not go ahead without minimum booking numbers for safety reasons.

Worsley Wonder Tour

Alexa Fairclough Monument Worsley

Event Cancelled 07/11/2020

As the Government has advised that we are living in a second spike of Coronavirus [Covid-19] our Worsley Wonder Tour for November has unfortunately been cancelled.

All those booked have been contacted and given the option to defer to another date or cancel and refund. If for some reason you have not received this, please contact us and we can arrange this for you.

We hope that the December tour will be allowed to run however we will follow government guidelines as the stand in December.

Thank you for your understanding and please stay safe.

Join our regular tours of Worsley by fully qualified Green Badge guides for the Bridgewater Canal in Salford

Next Tour: Saturday 7th November 2020

11am Meet outside the Delph Bar & Restaurant

Booking recommended.

Can’t make it in November? Don’t worry there’s always December!

Saturday 5th December 2020