In 1829 Mr. Thomas passed the recipe down to his nephew Mr. W. Harper who baked and produced the gingerbread until 1854, after which the business was handed to his son Mr. E.H. Harper.
In 1864 the business was once again passed down, but this time to Mr. Harper’s cousin, Richard Billington, and hence the “Billington’s Celebrated Market Drayton Gingerbread” brand was created.
In 1937 the original Billington Family sold the rights to produce and trade the gingerbread under the name “R. Billington & Sons” to a Mr. S.T. Hayward-Hughes. Mr. Hayward-Hughes, who had once worked as a former apprentice for Billington’s, continued the tradition of making the “Celebrated Gingerbread” in his bakery just outside Market Drayton. Mr. Hayward-Hughes retired in 1964 and the business was passed over to his son Mr. John Hayward-Hughes, who subsequently sold the rights to the product to The McCarthy Family in 1995. The gingerbread is now manufactured under licence from T. McCarthy by local artisan baker, Mr T. Hopcroft, Billington’s Gingerbread, Market Drayton, Shropshire.
Dating back to at least 1817, in the town of Market Drayton, Shropshire, the original biscuit was made famous by a Mr. Thomas, who baked the gingerbread in the basement of his bakery and shop, which still stands on the corner of Church Street, Market Drayton.
The secret spicy recipe has been handed down over the last 200 years to a continuum of local artisan bakers, who have kept the closely guarded and coveted recipe a sworn secret.
Billington’s Gingerbread is still made today with the same secret recipe developed during the 19th century.