Coventry and District Master Bakers Association - The Blitz

The Blue Silk Cap (now faded) worn by the Master of the Company of Bakers in Processions.
Photo by kind permission of the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.

November 14th 1940. The City suffered a 12 hour blitz. All the bakeries were put out of production. There were no supplies of gas or electricity and the water supply was contaminated. The next day Mr Philip Sutton organised a convoy of two cars and seven motor vans to go to Birmingham to collect loaves for the people of Coventry. They brought back 4,500 loaves.

The Ministry of Food sent a representative to advise that supplies of bread were quickly sent into the City. Bread was eventually sent to the City by Master Bakers from Leicester, Rugby, Nuneaton, Warwick, Leamington and Nottingham. Only one bakery was allowed to make bread for the City after the raid. A chlorination unit was put into the Crown Bakery, Maudslay Road, where they worked continuously night and day.

  • December 23rd 1940.  Discontinue making 1lb white loaves.

Bakers finishing trading

After the blitz in November 1940, 12 Coventry bakers finished trading, due to either losses caused by enemy action or shortage of staff.

E.J Bonas,  75 Station Street East.          A.J Davies, 359 Stoney Stanton Road.

W. Dorritt,  Grindle Road, Longford.      F.Feather, 75 Harnall Lane East.

A.E.Jenkins,   54 Durbar Avenue.            G.E.Lee,  back of 2 Brook Street.

H.F.Liggins,  7 Fleet Street.                    J.Oliver,  1 Nelson Street.

W. Pullen, 198 Swan Lane.                   T.Smith,  95 Harnall Lane East.

H.Taunton & Son,  176 Foleshill Rd.     F.A.Turrall,  866 Foleshill Road.

One of the sad events, when deliveries were resumed after the raid, is that the Roundsmens books told a sorry tale, many pages being marked ‘Gone away’.

  • Sunday February 9th 1941. At a meeting of the local Bakers Association a scheme was prepared to be able to ensure supplies of bread in the event of another raid. It was proposed to appoint a senior sub-area bread officer who had a  knowledge of the trade and five auxiliary bread officers for Coventry. The City was divided into five areas.
  • May 22nd 1941. It was decided to transfer the balance of £8-18-1 in hand on the former Bakers Bowling Club account to the Bakers Air Raid Relief Fund.

The National Wheatmeal Loaf was introduced in the Autumn of 1942.   Canadian wheat for bread making was imported and was in short supply. Due to enemy activity on the seas it was decided that we must make the best of our own resources. The National loaf as it was named, contained all the wheat grain including the husks. The loaf was quite heavy and was a nasty beige in colour with a gritty texture.  The loaf was not abolished until October 1956.

Women’s work during the war

Concerns were still growing in 1942 that young men between the ages of 18 and 25 were being taken for war service and causing a serious gap in their ranks, and they must look to labour to fill the gaps. One gentleman reported that he was amazed to see the work some of these women could do. They were doing a good job and Masters would have to rely on them much more in the future.

It was reported that there was always the possibility of a further cut in petrol supplies and spare parts and motor tyres were getting short. Deliveries could become a big problem. As far as petrol vehicles were concerned it was feared that they may become redundant and that they would have to be replaced by other forms of transport. (Horse drawn vehicles were still being used by many businesses until the early 1950s).

A Muster Roll of Master bakers’ sons who were serving, or had served in the war was drawn up. 18 names are on the list. Of these 2 were reported missing believed killed, 1 presumed killed, 1 killed at sea and 2 Prisoners of War who returned safely.

  • Bread was rationed from July 1946 until July 1948.
  • Food rationing ended on July 4th 1954.

Into the 20th century there were so few small bakeries left in the City and the Coventry & District Master Bakers Association disbanded eventually.

Information about the Coventry and District Master Bakers Association pre-war can be found here.

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