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Florence Cole as a child

Bakers shops
in the early 1900s

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This page is based on childhood recollections of shops in Edmonton, north London in Edwardian times.

There were two bakers shops along Silver Street in Edmonton when I was a child in the early 1900s and both were owned by Germans which seems not to have been at all unusual in other towns.

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Breyers Bakery

Old photo of Breyers bakery in Silver Street Edmonton, 1 of 2

Two old photos of Breyers bakery, courtesy of the Scarff family, probably taken around the time when George Scarff (1889-1960) was the bakery delivery boy.

Old photo of Breyers bakery in Silver Street Edmonton, 2 of 2

I well rememb­er the baker whose name sounded to me like Brayer. His wife served in the front of the shop and he would come in from the back where he had been baking carrying a tray of loaves on his head. He was very fat. His wife never made conversation and her appearance was like that of so many women of the time: a long skirt, tight bodice, hair loosely taken away from her face and coiled onto the top of her head in a bun. She kept the bun covered with a white bun cover.


Information on Breyer's bakers from the 1911 census

The 1911 census shows that my mother's memory was absolutely right:

Christian Breyer, 45, master baker, was born Kupfernzel Germany and lived at 123 Silver Street, (presumably above his shop) with his wife Ellen Elizabeth Breyer, 49, born Devizes, Wiltshire. No children were recorded but two servants assisted with the business.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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Ungerer's bakery

Information on Ungerer's bakers from the 1911 census

The 1911 census again shows that my mother's memory was absolutely right:

Charles Ungerer, 43, baker and confectioner, a German resident, lived at 83 Silver Street with his wife Frances Ungerer, 37, born Pimlico, and their sons Christian, 13, born Southwark, Bernard, 9, born Southwark, Frank, 3, born Edmonton and Alice, 1, born Edmonton. Their daughter Amy, 5, was born in Edmonton. 83 Silver Street was part of the large houses in Pymmes Villas, so the family's shop must have been elsewhere in Silver Street.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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Other Edmonton bakers from the 1911 census

I am puzzled though that my mother does not mention a third baker in Silver Street - Curnocks. According to the 1911 census, Alfred John Kurnock of Edmonton was born about 1856 in the city of London, and his son, Earnest Alfred Curnock, was born in Edmonton about 1884. The family was therefore trading before my mother was born and - as shown below - was also trading for decades afterwards.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

bakers delivery handcart, early 20th century

Ungerer's baker's delivery hand cart courtesy of a family member who prefers to remain anonymous.

Charles Ungerer, who is understood to have had a strong German accent is on the left and the man on the right could be an assistant.

Note the loaves that the men are holding.

There is another picture of a baker's delivery hand cart.

The name of the other German baker sounded like Hungerer. He had an assistant who helped in the shop and I have good reason to remember her. One day I went in there with my friends and on the counter was a large tray of homemade toffee, broken up for sale. One of my friends said, "I dare you to take a piece". It wasn't like me, but as nobody seemed to be around, I did. In a flash the assistant appeared and said, "You can put that back." and, "I'll tell Mr Cole of you". I was really scared because I thought she really would tell my father who was well known in Edmonton. He was an ambulance driver for the hospital and nephew of E G Cole who was chair of the Board of Guardians and owner of the Cole Pottery. In fact she never did tell on me, but I lived in fear for days.

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Bakers' wares

Bakers did not make or sell cream cakes in those days. The two cakes that I associated with them were long oblong shortbreads with a cherry in the centre and something called rice cakes. These were very plain that had crystallised sugar sprinkled on top, again with a cherry in the centre. The bread was cooked in the bakery at the back of the shop. It was a lovely sight to see the baker come into the shop wearing a cap and white apron and carrying a tray of hot bread on top of his head, and the smell was wonderful. The bread was lovely, crusty and its tasty. Most of it was white; there was some brown but white was much more popular.

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Bread makeweights

What happened to the left-over bread

Any left over bread would be sold the next day as 'stale bread'. Once it got too hard to sell, it would go back to the bakery to be made into bread pudding or sold as 'crumb' to butchers to bulk out their sausages. My mother knew all the tricks of the bread trade.

Peter Johnson

During the 1914-18 war bread had to be sold by weight, rather than by loaf, so it had to be weighed. If the loaf was supposed to be two pounds, and it fell short, the shop had little squares of bread about two inches across that were called makeweights. Usually only one would ever be required. In those days when the children went to fetch the bread, it was quite normal for them to eat the makeweight on the way home.

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.