Wednesday, May 30, 2012

History Corner: Southwark Bakery 1895

From the anarchist communist journal Liberty (May 1895), an article describing 'An Anarchist's visit to a London Bakery' - a Wholesale Cake Factory in Southwark Bridge Road. Said anarchist was looking for work, but decides not to take the job after talking to the workers there about the pay and conditions. The young women tell him that they 'had been at work since six o'clock in the morning, and that they expected to leave about eight or nine o'clock that night, but frequently they worked longer being just allowed time to snatch what food their scanty wage would permit them to buy'.

The foreman boasts that he 'can get 10,000 short-breads out of one of these girls (with the aid of macinery) in a day' .



The article has a great last line. I laughed out loud!

The 1895 Factory and Workshops Act (the year this article was written) outlawed these very common underground bakehouses from January 1896. However, by the turn of the century such premises were still in operation. In the St George The Martyr Vestry (of which the one in article is situated within) there were 16 bakehouses still in operation at 1897.

The 1901 Factory and Workshops Act sought that such places be regularly inspected for 'minimum requirement' such as ventilation, construction, cleanliness and so on. The Act defined 'underground' as being anywhere after three feet below the surface of the adjoining footway of the street'


Transpontine said...

Thanks for that background. Yes that last line made me laugh too, cam just imagine trying that line at the Job Centre today.