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15 December 2017


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Bitterne Parker: Graham Cotton
Sunday, 19 October 2014 00:00

Graham Cotton
Graham qualified at the Southampton Bakery College in 1964. “Like many, I left college thinking I knew it all, but soon learned the hard way from true craftsmen, that I had much to learn about bakery craft and indeed the real world,” he says. He landed what he thought was “a peach of a job” with Lyon’s bakery, but after a couple of years the novelty of mass production ceased to hold any interest. So ten years after leaving college he found an empty shop in Bitterne Park Triangle.  He says it didn’t take him long to find some second hand equipment, build some counters and start trading. “Although many things have changed over the years, especially shopping habits, I am still hanging on, and so proud to be part of Bitterne Park Triangle.”

The Qs & the As

What’s your link with Bitterne Park? 

I own and manage a small bakery business at 21 Manor Farm Road

What’s your earliest memory of the area?

My earliest memory is the impression I got of Bitterne Park folk while exploring and getting to know the area, and deciding where I wanted to locate my venture. I learned then, as I know now they are nice people with honest values. I well recall the second time I wandered around The Triangle: from chatting to Mr. Elliott in the newsagents about my intentions on my previous visit, every trader seemed to know who I was and that I was looking to open a bakery. The words of encouragement and sound advice I was given by existing traders, including Mr Angel the butcher, Mrs Noyce in the cycle shop, Husky in the radio shop, Mr Summers in Wheatley’s iron mongers and Clive in the greengrocer’s to mention but a few, decided my destiny.

How could the area be better?

Car parking is and always has been an issue.  This question has made me think: we traders need to work together and press the reset button. Perhaps simply sweeping the pavements every morning would be a good place to start.

Tell us something we probably didn’t know already about Bitterne Park

When I rebuilt my shop front we discovered that each time the shop had changed hands over the years the new trading name was fixed over the existing sign. As we peeled the signs off we found Gillet’s over Unigate Dairy, over South Coast Dairy, and over Brown and Harrison.  Oh how I wish we had saved those signs!

What’s good or not so good about the wider city?

Southampton is still in most parts a wonderful place to live; we have to thank the past citizens, including teachers, shop keepers and pub landlords, who put themselves out to stand as independent or ratepayer councillors on a part-time basis, who truly cared about Southampton and the people: what a great job they did. But unfortunately we are now RULED by professional, over-paid party politicians, who do not have the same commitment to the people or truly understand Southampton.

I love nothing better than an interesting debate’

What’s your passion in life?

My Wellbeing Formula Bread. Many years of research and study have combined with thinking outside the box in developing this bread. It’s been a personal passion bordering on obsession.

How do you put bread on your table?

I mix some flour and water with a little salt and yeast, and make it!

What has your career taught you?

In business The Customer IS King!

What really gets your goat?

Politicians who make promises to act in the best interest of their electorate, but who, once they have got my vote, become con men who renege on promises made.

How do you relax?

A good read, playing cards or a game of darts, although I love nothing better than an interesting debate.

Which is your favourite pub?

The Bitterne Park Hotel

What are you drinking?

 Real ales

  radioWhat do you listen to?

I enjoy Radio Solent and some Radio 4 although I value the classic 60s and 70s music provided by UnCool Radio: well worth the subscription to grow old disgracefully with Roger Day – great evening listening.

 Can you recommend a really good read?

 The Forest by Edward Rutherfurd

 What’s a great day out?

Up early, pack the camper and off to the New Forest to explore, find a quiet place to park and cook lunch.

What scares you?

The Government

What would you most like to change - in the world and in yourself?

For the sake of my grandchildren and future generations I would like to see people recognise the importance of living in harmony with nature. Politicians and business leaders seem set for imitating the demise of Easter Island and not learning from it.  We all share one provider, would it not be wise to show respect? Our planet provides us with air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink and fuel for warmth. Not Tesco.

For Me (The Cats Cradle) sums up my failure to get priorities correct.

 What’s on your bucket list?

1.    Finish fitting out my shed.
2.    Retire
3.    Spend what time I have left exploring England.

Tell us a joke

Q.        What is the difference between God and a doctor?

A.        God knows that he is not a doctor!

Finally, what would be another great question for other Bitterne Parkers?

What has Bitterne Park done for you and just what have you done for Bitterne Park?

Thanks so much for taking part!

Tune in next time when another Bitterne Parker answers our searching questions. But before then, do you know a Bitterne Parker we really should feature? If so, please nominate them by emailing us using the contact form, and we'll do our best. No promises, mind. 

Read about other Bitterne Parkers

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