Eureka Bakery

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Davies Bakery, Eureka Street, Ballarat East Federation University Historical Collection. (Cat. No. 15722)
Eureka Bakery exterior (1926).[1]

The Eureka Bakery, later called Davies Bakery, is one of the oldest industries in Ballarat. The business was operating as far back as 1858, only a few years after the founding of Ballarat. It was owned and run by two prominent Ballarat families—the Gray's (from 1858-1894) and the Davies' (from 1894-1962)—before being sold to the Bunge Group, and becoming part of Sunicrust Bakeries. Though the original factory is no longer standing, the business lives on through Sunicrust Ballarat, and Davies Bakery Pty. Ltd. (located in Broadmeadows).

Contents

Background

The Eureka Bakery was acquired in 1858 by Andrew Gray, and remained in his family until 1894. It is unknown who ran the bakery before Mr Gray, and how long it operated, but it couldn’t have been more than a couple of years, since Ballarat was only founded in 1851.[1] The Gray’s were the owners and proprietors of Eureka Bakery for some 35 years. In 1894, however, the business was purchased by John Davies.[2] Mr Davies had previously worked in the small mining town of Talbot, as a delivery man for baked goods. He had worked for a German baker, named Mr Trolla. During the day, Davies would deliver bread, while at night, he learned from his boss how to bake.[2] In 1885, Mr Trolla retired, and sold his bakery to Davies. Mr Davies operated the business successfully for several years, but as the gold mines in Talbot dried up, its population dwindled.

History

In 1894, John Davies sold his Talbot bakery, and moved to Ballarat, where he purchased the Eureka Bakery.[3] Like Gray, Mr Davies continued to serve baked goods to all of the diggers and pioneer settlers of Eureka, Canadian, Jeweller’s Shop, and many other goldfields around East Ballarat.[1]

The bakery was practically rebuilt from 1918 onwards, though parts of the original building remained. During the 1920s, Eureka Bakery grew in size and scope. It operated six horse-driven delivery carts and three motor vans, which would travel up to 20 miles a day, including to towns like Buninyong. By 1926, it was a factory, covering over half an acre of property.[1]

Dough Divider and Moulder (1926).[1]
John Davies ran the bakery until 1923, at which time his son, Fred “F. T.” Davies, became proprietor.[1] The business continued to grow under Fred, who turned it into one of the most successful industries in Ballarat. Fred fitted the bakery with a Perkins Continuous Oven, which was quite revolutionary for the time. The bakery was also fitted with Scotch ovens, which were used for ordinary bread-baking, and were worked manually.[1]

In 1926, the Eureka Bakery was using 10 tons of flour a week, and stocked 96,000 eggs in its cellars. It was baking up to 13,000lbs of bread and pastry weekly, and delivering goods all over Ballarat and the surrounding country towns.[1] Their wage bill at the time was around £5,000 a year, all of which was spent locally. In fact, the Eureka Bakery provided work for many people in Ballarat. It bought raw materials, such as eggs, from farmers. All of its flour came from the Ballarat Flour Mill. The furnaces were all heated by the Ballarat Gas Co, and the machines were all powered by the Electric Supply Co. (stationed in Ballarat). The horse-driven vehicles required blacksmiths, shoe-smiths and harness-makers, as well as oats and bran for the animals themselves. In fact, there was a stable attached to the rear of the bakery, where the work-horses were fed and cared for.[1] Fred Davies was quoted in The Courier as saying that, Eureka was “doing [its] share to ‘keep the home fires burning’ in Ballarat”, and that “while we supply the people with bread, we are [also] helping to support those who eat it”.[1]

Fred Davies continued to run the business until at least 1956. It’s unclear at what point the name changed from “Eureka Bakery” to “Davies Bakery”, but it was sometime between 1926 and 1956, as indicated by this advertisement.[4] The business has also been referred to as “Davies Bread and Cakes”, and “F. T. Davies & Sons Pty. Ltd.”, during this period.[5] Also interesting to note, is that the advert lists an item called “Anglo-American bread”, which may be a relic from when the U.S. soldiers were stationed in Ballarat, during World War II.[4]

Developments

Along with the continuous oven, the motor vehicle revolutionised the Eureka Bakery industry. In the older days, large deliveries to rural areas (such as the Wallace district) had to be made in two parts. A delivery cart would be sent out, fully loaded, while the rest of the shipment would be transported by train. The driver of the cart would make the first delivery, and then go to the train station to pick up the excess. This was done, because the driver would not have enough time to return home for the second delivery.[1] However, the introduction of motor vehicles changed all that. Delivery men would be able to transport baked goods, and then return to Ballarat for more deliveries, several times a day. Motor delivery was faster and more efficient for country work, and allowed the Eureka Bakery to provide for a much wider radius of customers, further strengthening their business.[1]

Sunicrust Bakeries (Ballarat)

The bakery was run by successive generations of the Davies family, until in 1962, when the business was sold to the Bunge Group, and became part of the Sunicrust Bakeries chain.[2] Despite this, members of the Davies family continued to operate the business in senior management positions.[2] At some point, following this acquisition, the bakery moved from its location on Eureka St, to a much larger site on Lal Lal St, in Golden Point. Sunicrust operates solely as a food processing and manufacturing plant. It delivers goods to bakeries and schools all over Ballarat and the Victorian region.[2]

Davies Bakery Pty. Ltd. (Broadmeadows)

In 1994, the current Davies generation, now managing Sunnicrust Ballarat, decided to acquire their own business in Melbourne.[3] They purchased the San Remo bakery (in Brunswick St, Fitzroy), and Patties Bakery (in Thomastown) three years later. The combined business, located in Thomastown, became Davies Bakery Pty. Ltd., and after forming a joint venture with Agri Industries, was contracted to provide a large range of baked goods for the Melbourne and Victorian regional markets.[3] In 2007, Davies Bakery Pty. Ltd. moved to a purpose-built factory in Broadmeadows. It currently employs around 90 fulltime personnel, and provides baked goods for approximately 600 wholesale customers (such as Brumby’s) in Melbourne, Geelong and Victorian regional cities.[3]

Site

Continuous Oven (1926).[1]
The bakery was located at 47 Eureka Street, in East Ballarat, and remained there until at least 1956.[4] However, the original factory was torn down years ago, and the business lives on through Sunicrust Bakeries (15-17 Lal Lal St, Ballarat); and Davies Bakery Pty. Ltd. (24 Military Road, Broadmeadows).[2] The site of the original bakery on Eureka St, is currently an empty lot.

Innovations

The continuous oven, installed by Fred Davies, proved vital to the success of the bakery. It was 2-storeys tall, and capable of baking twelve tons of bread per week. The second storey was for baking Vienna bread. The fires would need to be banked up during the daytime, so that the machine would be ready to produce at night. The continuous oven helped transform the business from a bakery, into a food processing plant.[1]

Works Produced

Davies Bakery Packaging (2012).[6]
According to an advertisement from the South Street Competitions, dated 1956, the bakery sold: wholemeal bread; Vienna bread; sliced and wrapped bread; "Procera" bread; "Stayfresh" bread; diabetic bread; salt-free bread; rye bread; continental bread; dinner roll; French rolls; crescent rolls; yeast buns; raisin loaves; Genoa cake; and Anglo-American cake.[4]

Workplace Relations

Even after ownership of the bakery passed to the Davies family, many of the same workers were retained from the Gray era. For example, Mr J. Hancock, who had begun his employment at Eureka Bakery in 1878, continued to work there for at least another 48 years.[1]

The bakery was generally a quiet place during the day, apart from the coming and going of delivery vans. But at night, it was a hive of activity. The bakery employed 24 full-time personnel, who would begin working just after dinner, so that all of the food would be ready by morning, for consumption and delivery. Fred Davies had hot and cold baths installed in the factory, so that employees could wash themselves after a hard night, or delivery men, after a long drive. This was appreciated by the staff, and contributed to a cordial employer-employee relationship.[1]

Legacies

It is unknown when the original factory of Eureka Bakery was demolished, but today, all that remains is an empty lot. The business itself, however, continues to thrive, in the form of Sunicrust Ballarat, and Davies Bakery Pty. Ltd. Both of these companies, located in Golden Point and Broadmeadows respectively, continue to provide baked goods to customers in Ballarat, and throughout all of Victoria. Robert Davies, John Davies’ great-grandson, is the director of Davies Bakery Pty. Ltd. today.[3]

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 “Ballarat’s Industries – Eureka Bakery.” The Ballarat Courier. [Ballarat] 26 Jun. 1926, 1st edition: 1.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Davies Bakery NPC 2006-2007 Action Plan Report. Ed. Robert Davies. Nov. 2007. Davies Bakery Pty. Ltd. 24 Mar. 2012. <http://www.docstoc.com/docs/50820205/Davies-Bakery-NPC-2006-2007-Action-Plan-Report>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Davies, Robert. Packaging Covenant – Davies Bakery. Jun. 2010. Davies Bakery Pty. Ltd. 24 Mar. 2012. <http://www.packagingcovenant.org.au/documents/File/Davies%20Bakery%20Pty%20Ltd%20AP_10_15.pdf>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 “Davies Bakery. Advertisement. South Street Competitions – Official Guide Book. 6 Sep. 1956.
  5. H. Scarpe, 25 Aug. 2011.
  6. “Slogans, Catchlines and Taglines.” 15 Mar. 2011. Blogspot. 24 Mar. 2012. <http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-w-xHRy3gBPI/TYAe-zXGqvI/AAAAAAAAAW8/MYfAza4TNK8/s1600/Rethika%2Baward%2BNoumbu%2Bat%2BMel%2Bblog%2Bpics%2B014.jpg>

--DuncanHubber 14:43, 22 May 2012 (EST)

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