Memories of Times Past
“I KNEW THEM ALL”
[Claude Dumbleton joined Joseph Baker & Sons in 1919 and was made a director of Baker Perkins Ltd in 1939 before retiring in 1963]
I have often felt that some of the outstanding figures in the history of Baker Perkins are being more and more lost to memory as time goes on. This is a pity, mainly because many of the present executives think they are responsible for the present quality of the Group, whereas in some cases they are only keeping a flywheel running – a wheel which was started by some dead or forgotten members of the company.
My association with the company is now a little over 40 years, and while memory is still green and some leisure presents itself, what better can I do than record the past and some of the personalities mixed up with it?
I started work in the Drawing Office of Joseph Baker & Sons, Willesden, in June 1919 after nearly five years in H.M. Forces and being one of the fortunate ones “The Angels of Mons” did favour.
It is not my intention in any way to make this a record of personal experiences, but inevitably situations arose which are worth recording – some, I hope, are amusing.
My introduction to Joseph Baker & Sons was via the front gate of the Hythe Road factory and through the “Commissionaire” in the person of “BLOXALL”, a man in a very old suit, a cloth cap and minus one arm. Bloxall had no great welcome for anyone and seemed to spend a major part of his time shooing stray dogs away from the gate with his empty sleeve.
The Drawing Office where I was given a job as a draughtsman was positioned under a northern light roof, very low, and over a pattern store. It was populated by about 35 draughtsmen and a few odd bodies. The office was comfortable enough in the winter, but in the summer was unbearably hot and work was most difficult, which did not matter much as the supervision was very poor.
W.E. PRESCOTT was chief draughtsman – a nice, kind man, who I think went through life at Joseph Baker & Sons and afterwards at Baker Perkins without leaving any great mark or leaving any monument to his work.
Drawings were sketchy and scarce and consisted mainly of the cast sections of machines – the steel parts were mainly obtained from information contained in sketch books held by chargehands.
At the time I joined the Company it had been decided that proper sets of drawings were needed, as a situation had arisen where a large unexecuted order book called for subcontracting, and clearly this could not be done with the existing drawings.
One of my first jobs was to produce a complete set of drawings of a 26” 2-gauge roll intermittent biscuit cutting machine, particulars of which in the Drawing Office, only covered the castings. To do this I had to obtain particulars of the steel parts from the chargehand, TOM SALISBURY – a great character and very loath to part with such valuable information. This chargehand spoke with great force, thrusting his head forward – he ate copious portions of raw onions for breakfast and chewed tobacco continuously. This situation did not make my job any easier but I managed to battle through and get what I wanted, and finally became firm friends with Tom Salisbury, who taught me a lot. He was too old to emigrate to Peterborough on amalgamation.
Another difficulty in making these drawings was the fact that the drawings of castings did not agree with the castings themselves and all patterns had to be measured up with contraction rules. The situation of the discrepancy in castings and drawings was due to the fact that when the patterns were first made they were frequently altered in the Pattern Shop by GEORGE BAKER (“Uncle George”) – more about him later. Invariably the alterations were recorded on the Pattern Shop whitewashed wall, and this was sometimes a valuable source of information. The wall was re-whitewashed some years later and much valuable information lost.
The Pattern Shop foreman hailed by the name of BILL CHECKETTS and he, in common with many other foremen at Joseph Baker & Sons, considered draughtsmen the lowest form of life – they were never welcome in his shop and this did not help when recourse to “The Wall” was needed.
Joseph Baker & Sons was a family business and at the time I joined it in 1919 the Head of it was ALLAN BAKER, father of our present Chairman. Allan was an outstanding man – he knew everyone who worked at Hythe Road and took a great interest in everybody’s work and many of their family problems also. He was a great traveller and did the major work in founding the Australian and South African Companies. He also did a lot of liaison work in the U.S.A. I suppose his great feature was his charming personality.
GEORGE BAKER (“Uncle George”), whom I mentioned previously, was Chief Engineer of Willesden and a very capable one at that. He had amazing qualities of design and I personally learnt an enormous amount from him. I had the honour and good fortune to design the first English continuous biscuit cutting and embossing machine under his directions – a stimulating experience. Many of George Baker’s features in cutting machine designs still exist in modern machines. The wafer machine was his original design and the fundamentals remain today. He also designed complete automatic bread plants. The only advantage the modern counterparts have is the use of electrical and pneumatic techniques for synchronisation and transfers.
“Uncle George” suffered from insomnia, and when he did feel like sleep retired to a couch which was kept in an office over the Pattern Shop. On more than one occasion he fell asleep over my drawing board when we were working on cutting machines.
RALPH BAKER, son of George, was virtually chief of designs under his father’s direction and, like his father, was a very good engineer with tendencies towards expensive and complicated mechanisms. I worked a lot with him and benefited greatly from the experience. His principal forte was chocolate machinery, although he did in later years take a great interest in biscuit machinery and prior to that did some substantial work on bread with his father.
Ralph was not the most energetic of men and I put this down largely to ill health. He lost his right arm at a relatively early age – I think about 35. His recovery was remarkable and the speed with which he learnt to write and sketch with his left hand was amazing. He retired early from active work but continued to be interested in design. His last achievement was the conception of movements to make up the modern biscuit laminator. I am afraid Ralph’s designs in chocolate, such as refiners and enrobers, did not enhance the profit and loss account to any great extent.
WILLIAM KING BAKER (“Uncle Will”) was brother to George and mainly in the Accounts Department. I never knew him very much – he had a reputation of being tight-fisted – he once had a campaign against private telephone calls in office hours and lectured the draughtsmen about the evils of using the Company’s telephones for private purposes. His summing up of the situation was: “You were born humble and should stay humble”. (I never really saw the connection.) Uncle Will’s name was not one that liveth forever.
W.K.Baker had amongst his family three sons whom I knew well. PAUL (now retired) was a good engineer, always ready to help and from time to time very much misunderstood by many senior executives in the Company. I thought Paul was a great loss when he went into early retirement.
The next son I knew was CHARLIE BAKER. He was a representative in the Far East mostly, and quite a successful one. He was able to leave the Company at a relatively young age; he married a reasonably wealthy wife.
HINMAN, the other son of W.K.Baker I knew, was the first founder/manufacturer and salesman of British Arkady. I suppose many people today know British Arkady’s factory in Manchester – it actually started in half the draughtsmen’s lavatory at Willesden. This half was ultimately given up and converted into GEORGE WILSON’s first Experimental Department.
W.K.Baker had other children who did not enter into Joseph Baker & Sons’ business and about whom I have no knowledge.
On the commercial side of the business the outstanding personalities were HARRY GILPIN, HERBERT KIRMAN and JOSEPH SCHALLER, and (later returned to the fold) ROBERT HAY. I only talk about the period I knew at Willesden – 1919 to 1933.
I suppose E.H. GILPIN was the outstanding man in this sales team – he was probably the most travelled man in the Company prior to H. CROWTHER, and was a very successful operator. He was a kindly, far-seeing and generous type of man – quite different from his Quaker brethren – and I imagine that at times his generosity was beyond the resources of the Company. E.H.G. dabbled in politics from time to time – not very successfully – and at one time stood for Parliament without achieving his aim. One would think that many of his contacts were useful to the business and he undoubtedly had vision in “picking out winners”. Many of Harry Gilpin’s friends, such as Jacobs, McVitie & Price and Peek Frean, were lost to the business for years when he retired and were not contacted again until the present younger team came into business. E.H.G. was one of the main movers in the amalgamation of Joseph Baker & Sons and Perkins Engineers. His successes are too numerous to relate. One did notice that he left the engineering side of the business to the engineers – an action which is not common today. Maybe they had better engineers in those days!
About H. KIRMAN I cannot say too much – he is still alive, but this much I must say – he gave me my first chance off the drawing board, and for that I shall always be grateful. His energy was unbounded and his capacity for work quite unparalleled. At one time he seemed to be doing everything at the same time and successfully too – Commercial work/Organisation/Estimating and Price-fixing/Budgeting – and was at one time Chairman of the Board of Management. He drove people very hard and rewarded them generously.
ROBERT HAY was, I suppose, the most colourful personality the Group has ever employed. When I joined Joseph Baker & Sons in 1919 he had left the service of the Company to become a Director of Carsons, the Chocolate people, and later returned to the fold as a Commercial Manager and I had considerable contact with him in Spain. During his first period of employment at Joseph Baker & Sons prior to 1919 his exploits were legion. His main hunting ground was the Latin American countries, and he apparently would sell anything to make an honest bob. He caused Willesden to design and built a crematorium in South America which never worked; he sold a steamship; he arranged the lighting of a town; he crossed the Andes by mule. Another exploit was to organise a hotel in Santiago as a hospital in a yellow fever epidemic. I don’t think personalities of Robert Hay’s type would fit very well into our business today – he was a complete individualist who would not work in a team, and, I imagine, a very, very expensive operator.
I only had infrequent contacts with JOSEPH SCHALLER – I think he was Swiss and operated mainly on the Continent on chocolate and biscuit business. In addition to being a successful commercial operator on the Continent, J.Schaller had much knowledge of biscuit and chocolate making, and on his death I inherited his formula books which for years were very valuable.
I suppose the “Twenties” were unreal years – we were licking our wounds from the First World War – changing Willesden from an Ordnance Factory to Civil Work – soldiers like me were trying to settle down in civilian life – there was a high order book with need for subcontracting without proper drawings – and so forth.
We had some real Dickensian characters – all the more noticeable to newcomers. I could not describe them all, but one or two are worth a mention. Plater TOMMY DONALD used to attend his job in a greasy morning-coat, bowler hat, no collar or tie or socks – but he was a magnificent worker.
ALF STOWER, the Machine Shop foreman, wore a stiff upright collar, about 4” and a black tie, and did much labouring and worked like a horse.
BILL BROWN, Cashier – I think the only one – used, with great ceremony to advance one shilling to me to pay my fare to Lyons and buy a cup of tea. He always gave the impression when paying one’s wages on Fridays that it was his money and not Joseph Baker & Sons’ which was being dispensed.
A. CRAMB (our present ALAN CRAMB’s father) was Erecting Shop foreman and, I suppose, the principal enemy of draughtsmen, but he ruled his shop with a rod of iron. Old Cramb had a picturesque history – he was a sea-going engineer; engineer at McVitie & Price; erected bread ovens and plant at Panifications Argentina; erected bread plant and ovens at Wards, Chicago, with Uncle George – all before being made senior Erecting Shop foreman at Willesden.
We had our notabilities also. S. VIANT, Carpenter foreman, entered Parliament as Labour M.P. for Willesden and was later Postmaster General. I believe he is still alive and in Parliament.
The Twenties passed – and the Thirties brought rumours of an amalgamation with Perkins Engineers of Peterborough. In 1933 the job was completed and the Great Trek up the North Road started at Easter for the fortunate who were to begin a new life there.
The Drawing Office at Willesden, being quite small (35 to 40 draughtsmen), had an air of camaraderie which could not exist in Peterborough today, and some rare characters too. Stanley Gibbs, an admirer of Longfellow, wrote the following about our emigration to Peterborough:-
“THE DEPARTURE OF BAKER PERKINS”
(with very humble apologies to Mr Longfellow)
By the waters of Grand Junction
Now to 1933 and Peterborough. The Willesden contingent was received with mixed feelings – considerable antagonism in some quarters and much kindness in others.
Prior to the final move, many weekend trips were organised to enable the London crowd to find accommodation. An accommodation bureau was set up which worked very effectively. Willesden Avenue was built and JOHNNY POINTON built Brackley Close to house a certain number of executives.
In time the new troops settled in and down. Violent arguments about systems raged around the soundness of Peterborough versus Willesden – in fact, for almost two years two methods of working in the Technical and Commercial Departments continued with suspicion on both sides.
I suppose it is safe to say that the Works were quickly and effectively welded together by the first Peterborough man I wish to mention, namely, the dynamic JOSH BOOTH, who was a Director, a member of the Board of Management and Works Manager.
Josh was a hard-working, hard-drinking, hard-swearing, ruthless man, but I believe in many respects a fair manager. He did not like the Willesden boys and made no bones about it. He did, however, tackle with vigour the task of building the unknown machinery for biscuit and chocolate ovens, etc. and other odds and ends, but many difficult situations arose.
Quite clearly the Works was the first department to weld the Peterborough and Willesden units together. Looking at the Commercial Departments, there was the inimitable J.S. BAKER a remarkable man and probably the best commercial man the Parent Company has ever had. One would not like to detract from our present excellent and capable team, but Joe had a combination of charm and ability which could hardly be matched then or now. He lived a very full life, was fond of good wines and food, and a great sportsman. He was outstandingly kind to anyone in trouble, and generous to a fault. I think Joe was probably fond of “yes” men, and I frequently noticed during my association with him that some of the “anti yes” men did not benefit from their attitude. One remembers some amusing situations with Joe – I had several in America and Germany.
Joe, of course, was a Willesden man but worked at Peterborough for some time before the 1933 “Trek”.
One of the most outstanding personalities in the Commercial Department was LAURIE KING – Director in charge of Bakery Sales. Unfortunately Laurie and Joe did not always see eye to eye – Joe was the boss and a member of the Board of Management. In later years he suffered terribly from arthritis and found it difficult to get about. I think Laurie King did feel frequently that he did the work and Joe reaped the benefit. In any case, he did from time to time build a wall round his particular customers and try to keep Joe away from them.
Laurie was a good salesman – loyal to the business and very hardworking, and he kept severely away from the engineering side of the business. He was a happy family man with a fine home. He was very fond of whisky and Woodbines, which probably contributed to his early death of lung trouble. His son, GEOFF, is Managing Director of Baker Perkins Pty Ltd, Australia, and he had another son, IAN, and a daughter.
I suppose, when starting my memories of early days at Peterborough, the first person to be mentioned should have been F.C. IHLEE, who was virtually dictator of the establishment – a German and an old Werner & Pfleiderer man. I did not know F.C.I. very well. He was obviously a great systems man and an organiser – many of the fundamentals as practised at Peterborough now were of his doing. I think he was the main negotiator on the part of Perkins Engineers at the time of amalgamation with Joseph Baker & Sons.
I think, before leaving the Willesden picture completely, one should mention GORDON LEWIS, who was sent there from Peterborough as Works Manager after O.B. BINNS was deposed, and also to do the job of clearing up the factory for closing down. Gordon was very friendly to the Willesden mob and this attitude was appreciated when we went to Peterborough, as we were not showered with the milk of human kindness in our merging. G.Lewis was made a Director of the Company later when he returned to Peterborough and became Works Manager. He was easy-going, a very good engineer, and loved life – very much a pupil of his boss, JOSH BOOTH, and I was sorry to see him retire, although his influence was more easily dispensed with when the Second World War was over and the task of rehabilitating the Company to civilian work became a very important job and called for more careful handling than Gordon could give.
I would like to reminisce a bit about the man whom I considered the most important in the Peterborough team – namely, JOHNNY POINTON. He is still alive, very old, and retired for some years now, although he took a great interest in the business, particularly the technical side, until comparatively recently.
Johnny was a self-taught engineer and a good practical one at that – in fact, he was self-taught in everything he did: designing – very practical and very simple. At commercial work Johnny was very good indeed and I knew many large baking concerns who preferred doing business with him rather than through the orthodox channels. His was almost the perfect combination – designing with one eye on the profit and loss account – a combination which I doubt we shall see again in the organisation. His inventions are still used, the main one being the Dough Divider which remains basically the same today all over the world as Johnny invented it over fifty years ago. There were many other inventions, too numerous to mention.
I mention him at length because I write with affection about a “great” little man. He had a passion for food machinery and an overriding obsession to make money, both for the business and personally. I always remember my first meeting in Peterborough with Johnny Pointon at the Great Northern Hotel – he bought me half a pint of beer (cost 6d) and remarked, “There goes 2½ per cent on a pound for a year”. This attitude was typical and projected itself into all his designs.
Another personality of the early Peterborough days was W.H. BEANES, the steam tube expert. He was right in at the conception of this form of oven heating and probably the greatest authority on the subject in the world. It literally broke old Beanes’ heart to see other forms of heating used for ovens – he prophesied disaster if such action was taken. His love of steam tubes was deep and passionate, and he certainly built some magnificent ovens so heated.
Working on the steam tube team was OWEN PELMORE (PFLEIDERER), a man, sharing with Beanes a love of steam tubes and a hatred of anything which savoured of “Willesden”.
There was a PELMORE on the Board when I joined it in 1939 – WALTER. I suppose he was there because of his family connection – actually he died soon after my appointment and I only heard him speak at a meeting once, and that was to propose that Directors’ fees be doubled. They never were, and that was the last I heard of Walter.
The majority of people in these memoirs have passed on and any who have not are retired. An outstanding personality who died may years ago at a comparatively young age was WELLESLEY GASKELL, first husband of OLIVE BRAITHWAITE. Wellesley was on the commercial side of the business, really an assistant to JOE BAKER, and mainly concentrated on Co-operative business with considerable success. Of course, his main effort was on the bakery side and on rare occasions he was called to assist in other departments. I think the high life which encompassed Co-op. business helped speed Wellesley to an early death. It is quite clear that the same depth of corruption does not exist in Co-op. business as in days gone by.
Another commercial man of considerable character was DAVID TANQUERAY – Director in charge of Laundry Sales and a member of the Board of Management at the time of his death. He was a great loss to Baker Perkins and would have undoubtedly been a tower of strength in the difficult task of rebuilding after the War. He was a charming man and good personality.
While on commercial memories, let me mention JOHN McCALL, one time Manager and Director of the Biscuit Department. He is still alive and living in Canada, and I think he still lends a hand on some jobs, although he is an old man now. He was originally a Perkins Engineers man and went to Canada some years ago and did terrific business for that country. He later returned to England to rejuvenate the Biscuit Department, which he did very well, and was made a Director. On retirement he returned to Canada.
Let’s look for a moment at one or two technicians. LAWRENCE HARBER, originally a Willesden man, went to U.S.A. and worked both at White Plains and at Woolworth Building when the offices of the American Company were located in those places. Lawrence was really the American top designer on bread machinery and a very good one at that. He returned to this country just before the amalgamation and held a similar position of Chief Designer of bread machinery under JOHNNY POINTON. Harber was a very difficult man to work with – in fact, he was a lone wolf and would not work in a team or respect any routine. He died at a relatively early age.
Of course, I must not forget my great pupil and later Chief Engineer, Oven Department, namely, JIM WARRINGTON. He did suddenly a few years ago, and one wonders if he did not overwork. Jim was apprenticed in Joseph Baker & Sons’ Drawing Office at Willesden under me in 1922 – he worked on Biscuit Ovens and later Automatic Ovens. When we moved to Peterborough in 1933 he became Deputy Section Leader, Ovens, to me and worked throughout his life with enthusiasm and zeal and produced some very fine ovens, both bread and biscuit. He also trained the present Chief Engineer, namely, PETER HENSON, and JOHN SMITH, his deputy.
I really could not start to recount some of the dramatic situations Jim and I found ourselves in during our long association on oven work. Jim took over the developments in the early stages of Cyclotherm Ovens from DAVID GUNSTON, and this was one of the vital turning points in Baker Perkins’ oven work because prior to this the major form of heating was Steam Tube, and Cyclotherm heating really spelt the death of Steam Tube.
I think this would be an appropriate place to mention Jim Warrington’s father – namely, OLD JIM – Outdoor Engineer for many years and loved by all at B.P. and by any customers he came into contact with. A terrific worker – hours meant nothing – he started his son at an early age by passing him through travelling ovens with a rope on his ankle.
Old Jim has been dead a few years now, but he is still remembered with considerable affection by many leading clients such as J.Lyons & Co., and did a terrific lot to help the reputation of Baker Perkins, doing a first class job of work.
There were many other Outdoor Engineers who worked on similar lines – BILL HOTCHIN – OWEN LLOYD – ARTHUR FRY – BEN GOOD – and a host of others. Sometimes I think the importance of the Outdoor Engineers is not appreciated – they are virtually the front presented to the customer.
I suppose one of the outstanding men who worked hard on the Outdoor Engineers’ morale (as indeed he did on many other departments’) was BARTON BAKER, who died some years ago. He filled various positions – Manager of Outdoor – Manager of Technical Departments – Director – Member of Board of Management, and when he died was Chairman of that body. Barton was a good engineer and a very good administrator. He was responsible for the reconstruction of the Outdoor Department and Drawing Offices in the early thirties and was also the principal architect of Profit Sharing, Prosperity Bonus and the Pension Scheme. He worked hard and played hard. I speak of Barton with great affection – we were good friends, although in many things we differed widely in our opinions and quarrelled violently. We had, however, a common denominator – the welfare and advancement of Baker Perkins. Barton was a great Baker and sadly missed when he died.
I do not seem to have mentioned GEOFFREY TOULMIN, Director and Secretary, who died some years ago and was succeeded by RAYMOND WILKINS and later JOHN HARDY. Geoffrey was a kindly, well educated man, and I always thought he should have been a parson and not mixed up with the low-brow bunch of engineers at Baker Perkins – not that they were all low-brow, but there were certainly a lot of very rough diamonds.
I don’t think Geoffrey had an enemy in the world. I should not think, although I probably do not know, that he was a brilliant Secretary; he did, however, retain a close contact with Werner & Pfleiderer and Savys which was of considerable service to the Company. He reared a brilliant family and had for his wife (she is still alive) one of the most charming women I have ever met.
Naturally, I could mention many of the lower orders in many departments of the Company, but they are too numerous – a lot of very stout good fellows who put their life service into Joseph Baker & Sons and later Baker Perkins. Also there were some good fellows acquired when we bought David Thompson’s of Edinburgh and later closed it down.
I would like to mention one or two overseas personalities, having during my career with Baker Perkins visited most of the outposts of B.P.’s empire.
In the U.S.A. I suppose the outstanding man I remember was CARL PLETSCHER – Director of Baker Perkins Inc., Saginaw – a very sound engineer and a very hard man who controlled Saginaw with a rod of iron and very successfully too. Carl was a very shrewd man – he did not stand fools gladly and Englishmen not at all – he softened out considerably in old age as I suppose many men do. C.P., as he was known in the States, had a son, YOUNG CARL, as he was known – a charming fellow really and not a bad engineer in his way. He died young and wealthy – at the time of his death he held the position of Chief of Outdoor Engineers.
The other outstanding personality I knew in the States was JOE BAKER, known as “BRANTFORD JOE” to avoid confusion with our English Joe Baker. Joe was a charming man and I think, in his day, one of B.P. Inc.’s star salesmen. He originated, of course, in Canada – he was in the Canadian Air Force in the First World War and was shot down and badly injured. Later in life Joe became President of B.P. Inc., which position he held when he died.
At Werner & Pfleiderer I knew both RICHARD and OTTO WERNER. I always enjoyed my visits to Stuttgart and Canstatt (they had two factories in those days) and I invariably came back stimulated by their designs and methods. We really had some amusing Oven Conferences in Stuttgart, and I remember one in particular which was attended by OTTO SCHMIDT (Germany) who always smoked a clay pipe, OTTO FAHR, ROBERT SAVY, H. KIRMAN, J.E. POINTON, H. HACKSTEDDE, E.O. ENGELS and myself. Of course, nobody believed what anyone else said and very little came out of such meetings.
Reverting to America, one very outstanding personality I remember was HERBERT HACKSTEDDE, President of Century Machine Company, Cincinnati – a very fine engineer who made the Century Machine Company a real paying concern. Herbert took to the bottle at a relatively early age and indulged secretly throughout the day. The bottle won in the end and Century never really held its head high again when Herbert died. He was to my mind the most “economical designer” next to JOHN POINTON.
While on the subject of Century Machine Company, I would like to mention BILL KLAUSING, who went over to B>P. Inc. when Century was disbanded. I think Bill is retired completely now. He was a very good production engineer and also protector of H. HACKSTEDDE – in fact, I think he knew for years that Herbert was hitting the bottle and never disclosed the fact to anyone.
Another Century man was ARTHUR CUMMINGS – I think he is still alive in retirement. Arthur was an ex-Joseph Baker & Sons, Willesden, man and went to join Baker Perkins Inc. in the U.S.A. many years ago and at a later stage was transferred to Century. Arthur was trained as an engineer and served in various capacities including design, estimating and commercial work. I always felt sorry when Century closed down - it was a nice compact unit and I suppose their scheme for the production of Reel Ovens was the most unique line production job ever produced, and incidentally never repeated since.
Back to North America again and Baker Perkins Inc. I must mention ELMER BAKER (now in retirement) – really the “Czar” as he was rightly called by BARTON BAKER. He built up and ruled B.P. Inc with great skill. He was mainly interested in the commercial side but fully intelligent on the engineering side also. He left this side mainly, however, to CARL PLETSCHER in Saginaw. I have an unhappy feeling that Baker Perkins Inc. will not rise again to her former greatness until another “Czar” appears.
I must not forget to mention TOM EVANS, Director of Saginaw Board of Management, and at one time Manager of the Chemical Department in the States. He was a first class engineer, a cracking good salesman and a tireless worker. He died as the result of a road accident – to my mind a great loss to Baker Perkins Inc.
Australia brings to my mind TOM HATTON, a Scots product of Melvins, who started work in this country under LAURIE KING and later went to Australia as Managing Director. He was a brilliant man – a good engineer, fine salesman and sound organiser, who really went to town and tidied up the Australian market, but alas, he could not control his overpowering desire for liquor and became a bad boozer. He came home for treatment and was worked on very hard by JOE BAKER.
Tom had to resign from the Company and tried all sorts of jobs during his downward path, and I believe he spent all his savings in the interest of John Barleycorn. He died in March 1961 – a sorry case of misguided brilliance.
Tom was the only man I knew intimately in Australia. There were others I had met, such as SAMMY MOSCRIP, MAJOR PRIOR and others, but I did now know them well. Fortunately there was GEOFF KING to take up the reins. Both my wife and I enjoyed our trip to Australia and New Zealand and the meeting with many customers.
South Africa has had a very chequered existence as regards Baker Perkins, and I suppose the outstanding person I remember was MAC BOWMAN, whose merchanting business was purchased by ALLAN BAKER some years ago.
Mac – he is still alive – did not enter easily into Baker Perkins’ ways when he was left to run the South African business. Any form of management reorganisation was a complete failure while Mac participated. He finally left us to start on his own.
In my travels around South Africa I met most of our leading clients and found them on the whole charming people.
I should mention Savys of Courbevoie (Paris). SIMONET SAVY (still alive) was boss here and I knew him for a great number of years. He was a charming man but never able to appoint a good manager to supersede him – that is why, I guess, the business is in such a miserable way.
ROBERT SAVY, who died a few years ago, was, I suppose, one of the world’s greatest authorities on chocolate and was greatly missed when he passed on.
I, like many other Peterborough personnel, always enjoyed our visits to Savys, mainly, I think, because the atmosphere of entertainment in Paris was extremely good – I don’t think our business gained extra prosperity because of them.
I could, of course, mention many other personalities, but it would make the story too long, and I hope people who read this short reminiscence will enjoy it. For my part, the association with Baker Perkins has been a long and happy one. Anyone like myself, who has spent such a large proportion of his life in association with the Baker family, cannot help but look back with satisfaction and gratitude for having had such an opportunity.
All content © the Website Authors, unless stated otherwise.