Bakeries and Biscuit Makers

Bill Woods on his employer's baker's cart, Hobart, 1910 (AOT, PH30/1/1671)

Bakeries and biscuit makers were active shortly after settlement, producing bread from convict rations. There were numerous bakers in Hobart Town with one of the earliest, Richard Coleman, advertising bread, hot rolls, biscuits and sweet cakes. Apart from the erection of a bakehouse or oven, little capital was required and one person could run the business. As an essential industry, baking was one of the first to be monitored, with regulations in 1816 for identification, weight, ingredients and price. Bakehouses often survived many years under a succession of different operators. In the century after 1830, Spencer's Bakery in Hobart went through a dozen owners, and the Star Bakery in Launceston, established by WB Dean in 1840, passed to his son in about 1890. Most country towns had at least one bakery, with 188 throughout the state in 1948.

Larger biscuit factories were set up in the 1870s, with George Arnold and Charles Duncan Haywood establishing factories in Hobart, and in the north 'Russen's biscuits' a household name. By 1931, Haywood's claimed to be the largest biscuit factory in Tasmania, and Arnold's made 130 varieties of biscuit. Swallow-Haywoods, as it became, made 'Tassie creams', decorated with a map of Tasmania. The growth of national companies from the 1950s meant the end of these firms. Large bread factories, such as Cripps Nubake at Glenorchy and Launceston, which developed from an original business established in 1860, dominated the bread market.

The end of the twentieth century saw the revival of small bakeries such as Jackman and McRoss in Hobart, the Trevallyn Gourmet Bakery in Launceston, and many country establishments. Franchise bakeries such as Banjo's and Baker's Delight multiplied in the 1990s, as did boutique biscuit and cake makers.

Further reading: The Cyclopedia of Tasmania, Hobart, 1900; The Tasmanian Cyclopedia, Hobart, 1931; L Scripps, The industrial heritage of Hobart, Hobart, 1997; Tasmanian Post Office Directory, 1948.

Wendy Rimon