PLEASE NOTE: This history is still in the drafting stage and there are many incomplete areas – some with comments and “aide-memoirs” which will be removed later. All bread was unleavened, with no raising agents three Dog Bakery Inc made from a variety of grains, similar to today’s Indian chapattis and Mexican tortillas. Around this time, tougher wheat varieties were developed with the baking of bread becoming a skill along with brewing beer. In Egypt’s warm climate wild yeasts were attracted to multi-grain flour mixtures and bakers experimented with leavened doughs.
The Egyptians invented the closed oven and bread assumed great significance, being used instead of money – the workers who built the pyramids were paid in bread. By 1000 BC, risen, yeasted bread had become popular in Rome and by 500 BC a circular quern was developed – a circular stone wheel turned on another which was fixed – the basis of all milling until the industrial revolution in the 19th century and still the way stoneground flour is produced today. Circa 150 BC, rich Romans were insisting on the more exclusive and expensive white bread – a preference that persists in Europe and English speaking countries to this day. A Roman invented the first mechanical dough-mixer, powered by horses and donkeys. With the Roman invasion of Britain in 55BC, the Romans’ more sophisticated bread-making techniques replaced wheat crushed by hand and baked over open fires. Baking technology changed little between Roman times and 1800.
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Mixing was carried out by hand in wooden bins – a tedious and exhausting task. The manufacture of yeast had become a separate trade, no longer being obtained from the brewer, and the fermentation process was very lengthy – the ‘first proof’ for the ‘sponge’ being for twelve hours, with a further hour and a half for the ‘second proof’ after more flour and salt had been added to the fermented ‘sponge’. By 1830, the beehive oven had been superseded by the side-flue oven – a brick-built arched structure with a flat tiled floor. The flue from a furnace at the side of the oven fed the oven, the hot air traversing through the oven chamber before passing into a vertical funnel built over the oven mouth. Mechanical dough mixing had been experimented with towards the middle of the eighteenth century but with little success.
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The first British dough mixer, driven by a belt and pulleys by a steam engine outside the bakery, was patented in 1858. The involvement of Baker Perkins in the Baking industry can be traced back to two significant events. The reason behind this venture was a simple geographical one. A new bakery opened up next door to his premises in Francis Street, to the north of Regent Square, and the owner asked Angier, as an engineer, to install the necessary equipment. Over the long centuries, since mankind first began to bake bread in ovens, their basic design has changed very slowly. In the cities of Glasgow and Manchester, early last century, there was hardly a baker’s shop to be found. Despite some difficulty in finding other customers, Angier Perkins decided to go ahead with this line of business and it paid its way without bringing in much profit.
Most of the ovens were bought for baking bread for the army at home and overseas, more than seventy per cent of sales being to the military authorities. In these early days of oven manufacture, Perkins helped to feed more soldiers than civilians. The second seminal event was the patenting by Joseph Baker in Canada in 1870, of a small combined flour scoop and sifter for use by housewives. The success of this invention led to Joseph travelling to England in 1876 to seek new markets for his product.
From these two unrelated events developed the business that a century and a half later still produces equipment for the world’s bakeries from its premises in Paston, Peterborough, England and Goldsboro, North Carolina, USA. THE PERKINS FAMILY AND BREAD MACHINERY Let us stay with the Perkins side of the story for a while. Angier’s son, Loftus Perkins, had inherited the family’s engineering ability and, in 1865, crowned his father’s achievement by taking out a patent for what he called the stopped-end steam tube. This resolved many of the oven heating problems, providing a steadier heat then was possible with wrought-iron tubes.
In Loftus’s patent, each tube contained a fixed amount of distilled water and both ends were hermetically sealed. Two rows of tubes, independent from each other, traversed the whole length of the oven, one row above the loaves, the other below the bread plate. All protruded slightly downwards form the baking chamber into the furnace. Each tube was, in effect, an individual boiler, its upper part filled with high-pressure steam. Stopped-end tubes were still being produced at Westwood Works nearly one hundred years later. Loftus Perkins went on, in 1874, to design a horse-drawn steam oven to feed troops on the march. Polly Perkins’ had been supplied to the British Army, others being purchased by the Prussian and Spanish governments.
They served in the Ashanti Wars, the Sudan campaign and the Boer War. One of the products sold was the Wieghorst oven, imported from Hamburg, and advertised as being a great improvement on the Perkins ovens. Pfleiderer’s London business did not prove a great success and he approached the Perkins directors with the intention of negotiating a union between the two companies. Perkins Ltd was registered on 2nd June 1893 and Paul Pfleiderer soon became the dominating element in its management. Pfleiderer, a man of great charm and persuasive ability, did much to keep the products of the company in the public eye at a time when there was much talk of the unsavoury places where bread was made and the unhygienic methods used. Universal’ cake machines, Spiral Brush sifters, dough trucks, bread racks, water measuring and tempering vessels, dough brakes and dividers, hoists, a Perkins’ steam-pipe peel oven and a draw-plate oven.
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For confectionery, there was a sponge divider, cake mixer, sponge whisk, hot plate, peel cutter and ice freezer. The Pointons and the Dough Divider At about this time another very important character came on the scene. Perkins Ltd, who had been sole selling agents for the Pointon machinery. Ihlee now considered that a union of the two firms would benefit both businesses. It was a newcomer to the scene, F. Universals’ and other machines from Cannstatt, the German equipment represented more than half of the output of Regent Square and occupied the whole of the top floor of the building. After a long search, he settled on a ten-acre plot close to the London to Scotland railway line on the west side of Peterborough.
We now return to developments by the Baker family. Trenton, Ontario grew into a busy little factory. On his father’s return, Joseph Allen was left to attempt to sell the sifter and travelled to Scotland, where he not only took many orders but also met his future wife, Elizabeth Balmer Moscrip. Early the following year, he cabled an order for 2,000 sifters and asked that his brother William be allowed to come over to help. 30,000 above manufacturing costs and expenses’. After the marriage of Joseph Allen and Elizabeth, they settled in London where they were joined by Joseph Baker and his wife and their two younger sons, George and Philip. 1881 exhibition in the Agricultural Hall, Islington.
Also, in the 1880’s, the company was an agent for Perkins’ steam ovens and for some of the peel-cutters and mixing and kneading machines made by the Edinburgh firm of David Thomson, of which more later. In 1881, increased business volume forced a move to more spacious premises in City Road. The company began to sell an increasing range of products connected with the food industry, issuing detailed catalogues at frequent intervals. The thirty-fourth edition had appeared by 1886, was said to look like a small pulpit bible and weighed five pounds. Perkins and saw North America as a key market for their products and made their local headquarters in Brantford, Ontario. At that time there was no intention of establishing a new factory in Ontario and all machinery for sale in North America was imported from England.
Developing the Australian Market Following the successful exhibition of bakery machinery in Melbourne, Australia in 1889, the Bakers opened an office there. In contrast, the Perkins business had never been much interested in exporting but F. Ihlee had seen the possibilities of Australia as a market before World War One and in 1912 sent W. Lawrence to be a permanent representative in Sydney. He set up office next to the boardroom of the Master Bakers’ Association and soon local bakers were calling in on him. In later years, the Australian business played its part as one of the three key resources of bakery equipment design and manufacture in the Baker Perkins Group’s strategy to serve the world’s bakery industry – the other two being Baker Perkins Ltd, Peterborough, England and Baker Perkins Inc. BREAD MAKING MACHINERY DEVELOPMENT It is worth breaking into the story of how the two founding families of the Baker Perkins group developed in the bakery machinery business, to look at how the mechanisation of the bread making process evolved at around the beginning of the twentieth century.
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Bread Dough Mixing and Forming Equipment Mention is made above of the major contribution that John Pointon and his father made to the development of bread dough dividing and moulding technology. UK by Paul Pfleiderer in 1873. Sons was offering them coupled direct to an electric motor. Sons at the time serves to illustrate the importance of John Pointon’s break through with his dough divider. Dough Dividing and Weighing Machine, Joseph Baker had been marketing the simple hand-operated dough dividing machines illustrated below. Dough Moulding Machine sold by J.
John Pointon and John Callow By 1903, the Pointons had designed a machine to mould dough for bread making that put the centre in a state of compression and the outer surface in tension. The development of a device to mechanise the rest period required by the dough to recover and rise following its battering by the kneading and moulding machines took much longer and resulted in a swinging tray prover. John Callow, a man who, like John Pointon, was driven to improving the lot of the baker in the second half of the 1800s by solving the problem of mechanising bread production, was a native of Laxey in the Isle of Man. The application of the genius of both John Pointon and John Callow to solving this problem led to a period of intense cut-throat price competition between the two companies, during which the Baker company was accused on two occasions by F. John Pointon until his death in 1929. With the merger of the two companies in 1919, both ranges of dough forming equipment were being offered in Joseph Baker Sons and Perkins Ltd’s catalogue. Over the long centuries, since mankind first began to bake bread in ovens, their basic design had changed very slowly.
In the cities of Manchester and Glasgow, early last century, there was hardly a baker’s shop to be found. It was in 1865 that Angier Perkins’ son. This invention transformed the baking of bread in ovens. Each tube was partially filled with distilled water and both its ends were hermetically sealed. The Steam-Tube Peel Oven started as a competitor to the original side flue, solid fuel oven. Originally a single deck design, a two-deck version was soon introduced. The tubes were straight, the bottom row acting as fire bars, there being three rows of tubes for two-deck ovens.
At a later date, it was felt that more flexibility was required between the upper and lower deck and W. Beanes had the idea of bending the tubes so that they were more or less bunched in the furnace. In doing so, he was able to separate the furnaces for top and bottom decks and so achieve a considerable measure of separate chamber control. This concentration of tubes and separate furnaces was one of the most important advances in steam tube oven design. Palmers, and to a large number of other customers.
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The Army installed them in barracks at home and overseas. Medals were won at exhibitions in London, Manchester, Paris and Philadelphia. One shorter term result was that the manufacture of this oven gradually gained greater importance for A. Sketch Plan of a Steam Tube Peel Oven showing the number of bends required in each oven tube. Oven tubes were made at first from iron strip with a longitudinal butt-welded seam.
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Inevitably, as each tube was then bent in several planes to suit the configuration of the oven and furnace, leaks did occur under pressure in operation leading to loss of water and burning-off of the tube in the furnace. It is perhaps surprising that it was not until just before WW1 that solid drawn steel tubes were used. Steam Tube Ovens were manufactured at Westwood Works long after WW2. The Tube Shop was part of Peter Jackson’s section and was situated between the Main Fitting Shop and the Steel Stores.
It stretched from the Railway to the main road which separated the Main Factory from the Plate Shop. It was in two sections, the first being the Blacksmiths and their forges and the Tube Shop proper. The profile of a Drawplate Peel Ovens was drawn on the floor with French Chalk. Tubes were cut to length with the Blacksmiths sealing over one end. Peter Jackson would then measure out the correct amount of distilled water for each tube.
The other end was then sealed. Tubes were shaped to the profile chalked on the floor. Baker Perkins did design and build a special machine to seal the tubes. The machine set the tubes at an angle and a chuck would clamp the tube. When the machine was switched on, the tube would rotate at very high speed – noise was horrendous. Gordon Hennis who worked in the Experimental Department recalled testing tubes for peel ovens. It is interesting to note that a “Google” through the Internet shows that many of the current producers of unit baking ovens have a “steam tube” oven in their range for which baking benefit claims are made exactly as were made by Loftus Perkins in his Patent of nearly 150 years ago.
Perkins’ main oven heating effort was with steam tubes and it had a very substantial business. Pfleiderer of Germany, who also had a substantial business in steam tube oven installations. It had been thought that Perkins dominated the bread oven sphere but this was not the case. Bailey-Baker Hot Air System as applied to Peel and Vienna Ovens – and did a substantial business in them. In principle, these ovens heated a separate hot air duct system from a furnace chamber, thus eliminating the products of combustion from the baking chamber. Solid fuel was used – coal or coke. At the same time as J.
Sons Ltd at Willesden in 1919, retiring from Baker Perkins as Technical Director in 1956. Baker Perkins and much of what follows is drawn from his work. The Drawplate oven, as the name suggests, had a large steel plate as a baking hearth that could be withdrawn from the oven on wheels for loading and unloading. It was generally steam tube heated, solid fuel, gas or oil fired and built of brick in various sizes. Popular in the UK, to a considerable extent in Germany and a little in France, it found some favour in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Again, prior to WW1, David Thomson Ltd.
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Edinburgh had developed a Drawplate oven with what was known as a circulating loop steam tube, as opposed to the stopped-end Perkins tube. The object of the loop tube was to even out the temperatures from back to front of the oven and obtain more even baking of products requiring long baking times or low temperatures, such as Scotch and Irish batch bread. The conveyor could be steel plates on chains, grids on chains or a steel or wire mesh band. Health and Safety at Work act? Perkins but they were pioneers in one important respect. Travelling ovens had been used for baking biscuits for some time but it was the Bakers of Willesden who proved that travelling ovens could also be used for baking bread.
The travelling oven supplied to Harrison was revolutionary for the baking of bread, and visitors from all over the United States came to Montreal to see it in operation. It was fed by hand, and it delivered the bread on to a conveyor, from which it was stacked on cooling trays by hand. In 1912, the Ward Baking Company of Chicago ordered a travelling oven for bread, together with a pre-oven unit so that the whole plant could be automatic. Recognising this as one of the greatest challenges put to the staff at Willesden, George Baker and his son Ralph devoted all their energies to the project and went over to Chicago to supervise its installation. There were significant teething troubles and the two Bakers were at the Ward factory for many months.
Immediately following WW1, the amalgamation between J. Sons and Perkins Engineers, virtually spelled the end of J. However, a last venture was made with Perkins Engineers to design and construct an all metal 75ft x 9ft direct gas fired travelling plate bread oven of which about a dozen were built. Around 1918 to 1920, Perkins Engineers installed one or two brick-built plate ovens but the design was not pursued.
Long Serving Bread Ovens It is worth digressing at this point to look at some ovens that have had surprisingly long working lives. It is not claimed that these examples are the oldest still in daily production – an exercise is underway to confirm this – but for any machine to be in constant use for well over 100 years is rather amazing. In the heart of Ireland, just outside the town of Roscrea near Tipperary, lies Mount St Joseph’s Cistercian Abbey, a beautiful building of local grey limestone on the traditional monastic plan. Founded in 1878 by a group of 32 monks from Mount Melleray, Co. Waterford, the property was acquired for the monks by Count Arthur Moore, M.
Tipperary, and given to them for a third of the purchase price. The church was opened for worship in 1883. Thirteen years after the monastery was founded, A. One hundred and thirteen years later, that oven is still in daily use. Brother Oliver tends the fire every morning before the prayer of vigils at 4. When the College opened in 1905 there were four bakers making bread for the 300 boys at the College and approximately 100 monks. Saturday to allow them a day off on Sundays.
The oven capacity dictated that the loaves were baked in three batches. It is understood that their sister community in Mount Melleray, Co Waterford used a similar Perkins oven – but a drawplate version – however, it is no longer in use. Today, the Coburg loaves are made to a simple recipe of flour, water, yeast and salt. The flour, including stone-ground wholemeal, used to be supplied by the monasteries own mill. This has since been sold off. They have always made a mixture of white and wholemeal loaves – the small daily volumes now mean they make each on alternate days.