Beloved baker was unrivalled in his craft

Golden wedding couple Bonnie and Peter Benge from Gorleston.Peter has made a cake to celebrate their

Golden wedding couple Bonnie and Peter Benge from Gorleston.Peter has made a cake to celebrate their Goilden wedding anniversary. He also made his own wedding cake.Photo: Nick ButcherCopy: Miles Jermy For: GYMArchant © 2010(01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2010

A celebrated baker whose eponymous shop has served generations has died aged 78.

Customers travelled from across the borough to Peter Benge's bakery in Bells Road, Gorleston, which had a reputation for quality bakes finished to perfection, in an era when people enjoyed shopping locally.

Known for always going the extra mile, Mr Benge had a passion for the authentic taste of home-made breads and fancies made entirely from scratch and often beautifully decorated thanks to his artist's eye.

'It was all about the flavour, as well as the look. Nothing was ever too much trouble and that is how he maintained the business,' said his widow Kathleen Benge, known as Bonnie.

Mr Benge was born a twin in Cobholm. His brother John died some years ago.

A gifted artist he was offered a scholarship at the art college but instead - and after some prodding from his mother - went on to work in the bakery at Arnolds (later Debenhams) in Great Yarmouth.

It was there that he discovered his talent and met his wife Bonnie, declaring that his life changed forever the moment he saw her.

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The couple married in 1960 moving to Norwich where Mr Benge worked at a prestigious craft bakers.

Later they ran a shop together, Clarke's in Gorleston High Street, rasing their family in the small flat that came with it.

But retail history gained a name that today resonates across generations when Benges Bakery opened in 1967.

The shop was an instant hit and soon Mr Benge was making celebration cakes for every occasion.

Having made a three-tiered triumph for his own wedding, he continued to mark every marital milestones with similar confections, always beautifully crafted with intricate details and pretty flourishes.

Mrs Benge said her mild-mannered and caring husband did everything to the best of his ability, whatever sphere he was working in, tagging him a '110pc man.'

The days were long and hard but because he enjoyed his work it was never a burden.

Over the years they employed around seven staff, all of whom were with them for at least 20 years, some having started as teens.

'Everything came from that one shop. On our first day we took £7 and ten shillings and we had to work hard for that,' Mrs Benge added.

She paid tribute to her patient, loving husband, who was unrivalled in his craft at a time when competition was stiff and high streets could count any number of bakeries among the busy mix of shops.

Despite a devastating diagnosis of terminal cancer the couple had a lovely last summer having decided to 'live a little' every day.

'Usually when people have cancer people say they have lost the battle but he never lost it because he never battled anyone. Everyone was amazed at how well he took it. But you win if you accept,' Mrs Benge said.

He leaves three children, eight grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. The couple retired from the shop in 2002.

His funeral service is today, Friday December 4, at Gorleston crematorium, 2pm.