Here we trace
The Baker's Mate
to its origin as the Thomas Collins Vectair oven in the 1950's.

Thomas Collin's history dates back to the 19th Century. We have preserved their values in the oven, justifying our bold claim for the new oven as

"Britain's Best-loved Pie Oven".

Ardent Engineering have partnered with 1944 established industry-leader Tom Chandley Bakery Engineers, who bring decades of experience in manufacturing quality bakery ovens from their plant in the heart of the UK Northern Powerhouse, Manchester.

Thomas Collins Company History of Excellence

Bristol-based Thomas Collins is believed to have been established in 1884.  Our earliest surviving documentation, the image shows a memo, offering employment to a salesman, that indicates the Highest Award for Ovens at the International Bakers Exhibition in 1893.  According to records, a Century-old Thomas Collins Steam oven was found in good condition in 1984.  The strength and prestige of the brand is evident from an examination of its history.

The Vectair Oven is Born

This c. 1950 brochure is the first we have of the Vectair oven that Thomas Collins introduced to address a niche market for a compact, versatile and efficient oven.  The Vectair oven was Thomas Collins’ first dedicated gas-fired convection oven and an acknowledgement of the increasing popularity of gas as a heating fuel. 

The Mk IV oven was available in variants of 9 or 12 tray capacity.  The tray size referred to is the standard baker’s tray 18" Width x 30" Depth.

The Vectair Oven Widely Adopted as the Superior Compact Baker's Oven

By the 1970’s, the Vectair oven was well-established in the market as a superior compact oven, apparently having been sold internationally as described in the c. 1960 Brochure on the right.  Further enhancements to the oven included a burner ignition sequence control.

Hi-Tech Bakery Equipment

In c. 1980, the Thomas Collins company was re-established as Hi-Tech Bakery Equipment.  Some improvements were made to the Vectair oven, and an optional Deluxe specification added a viewing window for the chamber and a lamp to illuminate the chamber.  Our records indicate that a steaming function option was introduced, and we have seen this feature on a small minority of ovens.

Independent Bakery Equipment

In c. 1995, Hi-Tech Bakery Equipment was re-established again as Independent Bakery Equipment (IBE).  Perhaps the most significant improvement made during this chapter was the extension of the stainless steel fabric to the oven’s internals. This effectively eliminated the corrosion that had limited the lifespan of the earlier ovens, although the lifespan was impressive by any measure. Many early Thomas Collins ovens with mild steel internals are still providing good service today.