LSBU bids farewell to Head of the National Bakery School
04 August 2015
The head of the world’s oldest bakery school will
retire after training generations of bakers for over four decades. John
Marchant joined the National Bakery School at London South Bank University (LSBU)
in 1975 and was appointed Head of School in 1992.
Under his leadership, the School has strengthened
its impressive reputation for excellence within the baking industry. In
recognition of his work, LSBU gave John the title of Professor Emeritus. The title is given to eligible retired members of
staff to award their distinguished service and continuing association with the
John’s passion for baking began at just 16
years old when he was offered the position of Apprentice Baker for Rank Hovis McDougall (RHM). Within four years, John was running the largest
cake decorating department at RHM. By 24 he was the youngest production manager
in the country.
In 1975, John took a position as a full-time Lecturer
at the National Bakery School. During John’s time at LSBU (formally known as
Borough Polytechnic Institute), he received several high profile commissions.
The work ranged from baking a cake for the Queen Mother’s 100th
birthday, to creating cake sculptures for designer Jean Paul Gautier’s fashion
exhibition in Paris and making a six tier cake for the 800th
anniversary of the Magna Carta at the City of London.
Another exciting commission came from artist
Sharon Baker who requested bread baked in life-sized moulds of herself. The
sculpture was presented to an audience at the art event ‘Eat Me’ which formed
part of the annual London Thames Festival.
John was promoted to Head of the National
Bakery School in 1992. Under his leadership the School developed the Baking
Technology degree, the first degree of its kind in the UK.
After receiving his Masters in Education from
LSBU in 1993, John went on to complete his PhD on the history of baking
technology. John’s research was turned into a book entitled ‘Bread: A
Slice of History’. The book was instantly a hit with the baking industry and
went on to release three editions.
In 2013 John helped secure a £2.5m investment
to redevelop the National Bakery School’s facilities. The funding was used to
create specialist teaching spaces for baking, confectionery and chocolate as
well as a demonstration bakery suitable for public presentations.
on his time at LSBU, John said: “LSBU is such an exciting place in which to
work. The tireless dedication that the staff in the School have in ensuring the
students are always at the heart is something that I will tremendously miss.
"We are now offering degrees in baking
that are harnessing cutting-edge science and developing new talent for a
growing industry. Now that the redevelopment of the School has been completed, I feel that now the time is right to hand over to others who can continue LSBU's historic
link with the baking industry.
“For the last
four decades my job has been all about education and preparing students for the
industry and it has been an absolute privilege and joy."