Carrs Breadmaker

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A millworker's tale [Spring 2006]

In 1831 Jonathan Dodgson Carr travelled from Kendal to Carlisle to set up a corn merchants and bakery.

Harold Bosward at the The Silloth MillLater, he set up a biscuit factory in the city and a flour mill at Silloth - both of which are still operating today.

Harold Bosward (pictured right), who worked at the mill for 50 years, spoke exclusively to the April edition of Yesterday magazine to help celebrate the company's 175th anniversary.

His memories include being taught how to sweep up properly when he first entered the mill as a 15-year-old in 1952:

"It was one of the first tasks I had to master. Slide the shank through your hands, knock the dust out of the head before going onto the next part of the floor - that was how it had to be done and I had to get it right."

Pay Day was cash in hand:

Carrs workers'"Your wages were in a small tin with your number on that you collected from a cubicle where the pay clerks sat. I got about two pounds and I gave it to my mother who probably gave me ten shillings back but she bought all my clothes so I never worried about that."

Harold was a popular member of the 'rough gang' in the warehouse:

"I had to hump 12, 14, 16 stone bags of feed up a plank and pile them 20 high. It was hard graft as I was only 11 stone at the time."

He affectionately recalls the halcyon days of the 1950s:

Carnival time for Carrs"It was hard work but there was a lot of laughter, jokers who raised a smile when spirits flagged and innocent pranks. Nailing someone’s shoes to the floor, gluing a billy can to the table or sending the green and wide-eyed to the workshop for a 'long stand' - the fate of nearly all new mill workers down the years."

Harold has fond memories of the last two members of the Carr family to run the business - Ivan and Ian Carr.

Bread being cut and tested in the Mill"Mr Ivan - everyone called him Mr Ivan - took a great interest in everyone who worked at the mill. He would visit, usually on a Tuesday or a Thursday, and he was great with the young lads. He’d ask one of them: 'If a fire started over there what would do?' When they said they would try to contain it if it was a small fire or press the alarm if it was a bigger fire he would bring out this bag of mint imperials and hand them out. He knew everyone by their Christian name. We were never in fear of him but probably in awe of him."

He remembers the innate skills of the old millers:

"Millers like Tommy Slack could instantly assess the quality of wheat grains simply by pressing it through their fingers. Sometimes they would shake their heads because it was too wet or too dry whereas today you cannot fail to get it right. Now, machines tell you everything and there is constant quality control throughout the milling process every hour of the day."

roll decorated with a stalk of wheatRead the full article "A Millworker's Tale ..." from Yesterday magazine:
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