Coventry and District Master Bakers Association - Pre War

Bakers' entry in the Coventry Carnival 1907. Taken outside Robbins and Powers Flour Mills in Wheatley Street which shows how many bakers there were in the city at that time! The large white mark on the left hand side of the photograph is a bag which was held up to bedroom windows to collect cash! The display on the side of cart says ‘Your Daily Bread’ made from bread. Little Alf is the 3rd boy on the right from the bag.
Image supplied by Doris Pails.

The local association appeared to have been formed in 1903 according to the minutes.

  • The Annual General Meeting was held on January 5th 1904 and 12 officers were elected.
  • By September 14th 1904 interest seemed to be dwindling as a discussion was held as to whether the association should carry or not.
  • In 1903 a Horse Insurance Club, later the Horse Benevolent Fund, had been set up. This was eventually closed by 1939 due to the use of motor vans.
  • The bakers held a meeting on September 14th 1906 with regard to the Coventry Carnival. A sub-committee was set up consisting of 7 members and it was decided that the association should have six boy followers in the procession.
  • A photograph was taken of the entry in the carnival outside the flour mills of Robbins & Powers in Wheatley Street.  It is difficult to distinguish which baker is which, due to them all being in similar outfits and all having large moustaches which were fashionable at the time.
  • Bread prices seemed to fluctuate during the 1920s.
  • From April 10th 1920 a 2lb loaf cost sixpence halfpenny, a 1lb loaf threepence farthing.
  • October 18th 1920 a 4lb loaf cost 1/4, 2lb loaf 8d & a 1lb loaf four and a half pence.
  • October 3rd 1921 prices reduced again, a 4lb loaf down in price to 1/-
  • By September 19th 1922 the price was lower again.
  • Twopence halfpenny for a 1lb loaf, fourpence halfpenny for a 2lb loaf and a 4lb loaf cost 9d.
  • Prices started to increase from 1924.
  • In 1921 buns and rock cakes could be bought, one penny each or four for threepence halfpenny.

Wages 1920

  • Operatives Union suggested an increase in wages to £4-00 per week minimum. It was resolved to give an increase of 10/- per week making £3-15 per week to date from April 12th 1920.
  • October 1920.  One baker was canvassing everyone’s customers and was asked not to continue giving loaves of bread when canvassing new customers.
  • In 1930 there were 44 members of Coventry Master Bakers Association.
  • Saturday March 6th 1937.  Bread  deliverers wages started at 15/- per week at aged 14,to 28/- per week at 18. Deliverers aged from 18 to 21 and in charge ranged from 36/- to 65/- per week. A bonus of 10p in the £1 on all sales of sundries (not Flour) was given.

1939. War approaching

With war approaching it was decided to form a committee to consider the exchange of customers between members. Economies needed to be made and this was thought to be a way of bakers only serving customers in their own districts. Members were asked to send a list of any customers they would like to exchange. It was decided that no bread should be delivered on Thursdays or Tuesdays outside the area.

  • There was concern about the petrol rationing scheme. A petrol levy was imposed on vans of 6d per vehicle per week.
  • At the beginning of the war there were 50 members of the Coventry & District Master Bakers Association.
  • September 26th 1939. No student classes to be held at the Technical College as only five students enrolled.
  • April 30th 1940. Mr Alfred Pails thanked. He had promised to forward a statement of his accounts of his output for presentation to the Ministry of Food.
  • September 30th 1940. Wrapped and sliced bread to be stopped immediately.

Information about the Coventry and District Master Bakers Association during the Blitz can be found here.

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