We find it difficult to believe that it’s a year since we published
our last newsletter and we apologise for this. However our work has still continued
in the background, albeit now rather more slowly than previously, prompted
by a steady flow of information and comment arriving on my desk. It is amazing
that there is still interesting material surfacing after more than ten years
and we are very grateful to all of you out there who continue to show interest
in our endeavours.
New Additions to the Websites
The new items added since the last Newsletter can be accessed
as usual via the blue links. If you are able to add to these records, we
would be pleased to hear from you.
They include this
painting found among the effects of our late colleague, Mike
Leggatt. Does anyone know when it was painted and why?We
believe the artist to be John Booth - born in 1941, educated
at Bath Academy of Art (part of Bristol University), taught at Oundle School
for 10 years and then Eton for 20 years.
SERVING BREAD OVENS - We are amassing information on the whereabouts
of a number of old baking ovens, some still in operation, others preserved
as an eye-catching addition to the decor of a restaurant or bar. If you
know of one in your local watering hole, please send us a photograph and
we will attempt to confirm its provenance.
BRAZILIAN FACTORY - Exports had been important to Joseph
Baker & Sons long before the First World War, with South
America identified as a key target for long-term development. We
have a number of first-hand accounts from Baker
Perkins ex-patriates who were sent out to develop the company's business
in the area. In1954, following a currency crisis the Brazilian government
was forced to impose severe import restrictions. In order to overcome these
and to meet the demands of their Brazilian customers, Baker Perkins decided
to establish some local manufacture in Brazil.
A company named Baker Perkins do Brasil was formed and a small factory
built in Sao Bernardo do Campo, a town about 15 miles east
of Sao Paulo on the main road to Santos.
It was equipped with machine tools sent from England.
We are particularly grateful to Sylvia
Ballinger for her illustrated account of the trials and tribulations
experienced during the building of the new factory,
RELATIONS - A STRIKE AT BP INC, SAGINAW - As will be seen
in - "the
Westwood Works culture", industrial disputes within the group seldom
resulted in strike action. However, the Eighties were
troubled times for Baker
Perkins Inc's Saginaw factory, the company's two divisions - food machinery
and chemical machinery - both seen as major growth opportunities but both
suffering from the increasingly high costs of manufacture in the Detroit
automobile industry dominated Saginaw area. In summer 1980, about 435 members
of the union rejected company proposals for a new contract and went on
strike. The strike continued for nearly six weeks until the union voted
to accept a new contract running to May 1983.
GREEN - It was often said that Baker Perkins had more than
its fair share of "characters". BPHS was recently shown a First Aid haversack
presented by the Peterborough Playgoers Society to the Westwood
Works Division of the St John Ambulance Brigade in remembrance of Walter
Joseph (Nipper) Green who retired from the Machine Shop (Tool Room) in
1970 after 40+ years service, and died in 1977. A long-term St John
Ambulance man, Nipper was a past superintendent of the Westwood Works
Division of the St John Ambulance Brigade.
AND COWLISHAW - Founded in 1924, Steele & Cowlishaw was
acquired by Baker Perkins in May 1958 and was made a subsidiary of Baker
Perkins Chemical Machinery Ltd in 1962. The company was perhaps best
known for its ball mills and we have some photographs of a particularly
large ceramic lined ball mill, leaving the factory (with just inches to
spare), destined for ICI Wilton to be used for plastic granule grinding.
BAKER PERKINS - Towards the end of last year, BPHS was contacted
by Shawn Ellis who is president of the Trentport Historical Society, Trenton,
Ontario, Canada, and coincidentally may be distantly related to the Baker
family. When first setting up a new museum in the area, Shawn discovered
Baker invented the flour sifter whilst living in Trenton. Shawn
is compiling a display for the museum where his society is based
and asked for further information. Gabrielle put together and has sent
some old and current literature about the company, together with one of
the few remaining replicas of the flour sifter. We hope to receive photographs
from Shawn in due course of both his museum display and of Maple Ridge
where the Baker family lived. It will be recalled that the Canadian company
started life as Joseph Baker’s Ltd in 1870 and was liquidated in
1919 after being sold to Joseph Baker Sons & Perkins (Canada)
Ltd. It was renamed Canadian Baker Perkins in 1923 and in 1930 became a
subsidiary of Baker Perkins Inc. Just before WW2 the headquarters of the
company was transferred from Brantford, Ontario to Brampton, Toronto.
PERKINS IN THE COMMMUNITY - The two Websites contain many
illustrations of the Company's involvement in charitable work in the local
community. A culture of involvement in the local community permeated every
part of Westwood Works, the management giving employees every encouragement
to spend time and effort, both inside and outside company hours, in getting
involved in many facets of local activities. Many examples of such work
can be found throughout the websites. Organising fancy dress football matches
was a popular way of raising money for charities. Mary Baxter remembers
such events from the mid-1970s.
INTER-D CRICKET MATCH - Much effort was put into the organisation
of Inter-Departmental matches giving even the least talented the opportunity
to participate in a wide range of sports. We have some new photographs
dating from 1954 of The Oven Section versus "The Rest". It is understood
that "The Rest" won.
SERVICE PRESENTATIONS - Baker Perkins had a history of long
service with a substantial number of employees spending all their working
life with the Company. A very important date in the calendar was the Long
Service Presentation Evening. We have been successful in finding a significant
percentage of the group photographs from these Evenings - those from 1963
have just been added to the Website - but there are still gaps in our coverage.
If you have a copy of one of the missing years, we would love to scan it
for our record.
PROGRAMMES - "1947 - HIT THE DECK"- More of the gaps in our
collection of WWMS programmes have now been filled and we hope to be able
to pass over a full set to the Archives Services department at Peterborough
Central Library for cataloguing and adding to the official Baker Perkins
Archive being developed there. Work also continues in tracking down the
final few missing Company Annual Reports. If anyone out there has material
that they would like to add to the Archive, we would be very pleased to
hear from you.
GUARD BOMB DISPOSAL - Just when we thought we knew all there
is to know about Westwood Works in WW2; we were contacted by Chris
Ransted, an authority on the subject of Bomb Disposal, seeking permission
to use some of our photographs in his upcoming book. According to
a file at The National Archives, Baker Perkins' Technical Director, Claude
Dumbleton, and Chairman, Allan Richard Baker, volunteered to lead a Home
Guard Auxiliary Bomb Disposal Unit during the war. The unit apparently
comprised of 22 volunteers, all employees of Baker Perkins. We
will be following up this lead to see if the Baker Perkins Unit was ever "in
STANDING BACK -
Preparing this Newsletter has provided an opportunity to stand back and look
critically at the Websites. It is clear that much remains to be done. There
are indexing problems which make it difficult to find of the information.
Some sections are incomplete or poorly covered and in an attempt to make it
easier to for new visitors to the site to discover how to contact us (and perhaps
become a member of BPHS) - a "Contact Us" button is being added to the home
page of each of
There must be other niggles, so please do not be shy - tell us what you think.
BUT, after ten years, we are very pleased to find that:
ALIVE AND WELL - One of the pleasures of working at Baker Perkins
was that, if you had a problem, it didn't take long to find somebody willing
to help. We had a perfect example of this recently - and many more instances
have occurred since we launched ourselves on this project. An American long-term
customer of the Group contacted us seeking information about the industrial
production of sourdough bread. You will not be surprised to hear that this
is not a subject about which we three know very much. However, a few e-mails
and phone calls later, we were able to provide the customer with useful information.
So, thank you Dick Snell, John Baker and Chris Cipriani - the Baker Perkins
spirit lives on!
WHERE DO WE GO
FROM HERE? - We are not able to promise when our next Newsletter
will be produced but the above list indicates that we have plenty to be going
on with. We remain somewhat embarrassed to have to say once again that work
continues - with as yet no end in sight - on "Baker Perkins at War".