Temporary pop-up Walkers pork pie shop to open in Cheapside, Leicester, for Christmas
Every Christmas for generations, award-winning pie maker Walker and Son has provided hundreds of families with their pork pies for the festive season.
Giant queues would form on Christmas Eve outside the company's shop in Cheapside, Leicester, as last-minute shoppers vied for the freshest pie to see them through Yuletide.
Walker and Son, which began in Leicester in 1824 and also spawned Walkers Crisps, is still baking pies in the city, but its shops, including the Cheapside one, continued under different companies.
In March this year, however, the Cheapside shop closed down after the latest owner, Fife Fine Foods, went bust.
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The closure was a blow to pork pie lovers throughout the city.
But now Walker and Son has announced it is staging a high street comeback, just in time for Christmas.
After several decades of concentrating on baking pies for supermarkets, the company has bought back the Cheapside store.
Next week, from December 21, it will open it as a "pop-up" – or temporary – pork pie shop in the premises until it sells out of pies on Christmas Eve.
Then, in the spring, the company will re-open the store permanently.
The pies will all be delivered fresh from the Walker Charnwood Bakery, in Beaumont Leys.
Mark Birch, head of retail shops at Walker and Son, said: "Pork pies are a firm favourite at Christmas and we wanted to make sure that our customers could easily get hold of our pies.
"We came up with the idea of a pop-up shop just in time for Christmas as we know our customers may be wondering where they would get their pork pies from now that Fife's has closed its doors."
Matthew O'Callaghan, chairman of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, welcomed the news.
He said: "Walker and Son have won the British Pie Award twice and they have a master baker who is a great producer of pies.
"I think a pop-up shop would be a brilliant idea and I'm sure all the pork pie shops in Leicestershire are going to be extremely busy this Christmas.
"The tradition of having a pork pie at Christmas is one that is still growing and I think it's spreading to other counties, too.
"Like Leicestershire's Stilton cheese, our pork pies are becoming a popular Christmas treat for thousands of people."
Pork pies are thought to have been a Christmas tradition in Leicestershire for hundreds of years.
It began when local farm labourers ate the pigs they had raised throughout the summer as part of their festive celebrations, while their masters tucked into swan or goose.
In the 18th century, members of the Royal Family on regular fox-hunting trips to Leicestershire got a taste for pork pies and started having them delivered to London.
Every Christmas, the Queen and the Prince of Wales each receive a pork pie from Leicestershire producers.