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British Industrial History

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Joseph Allen Baker

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Joseph Allen Baker (1852-1918) of Joseph Baker and Sons

1911 Living at Donnington, Donnington Road, Harlesden: Joseph Allen Baker (age 58 born Ontario, Canada), Mechanical Engineer, Director, M.P. - Employer. With his wife Elizabeth Balmer and two children and some visitors.[1]

1918 Obituary [2]

JOSEPH ALLEN BAKER, M.P., was born at Trenton, Ontario, Canada, on the 10th April 1852, being the son of Joseph Baker, the founder of a firm of engineers at Willesden Junction, London.

His education was received at Trenton High School. Shortly afterwards his father started in the business of manufacturing specialities in food machinery, and works were opened in the United States as well as in Canada; and in 1876 they began the English business in Liverpool, but soon after they removed to London, which became its chief centre.

On his father's death in 1892 he became the head of the firm, and its Chairman when it was converted into a limited company in 1902. Fresh inventions and new machinery were introduced by the firm to meet special needs of manufacturers engaged in production of biscuits, chocolate, cocoa, confectionery, &c., and at the Health Exhibition of 1883 several complete working bakeries were equipped by the firm and shown in daily operation; and from these efforts sprang the Master Bakers' National Association.

In the French Exhibitions of 1889 and 1900 and in that of Chicago of 1893, Mr. Baker took the keenest personal interest, the latter Exhibition leading eventually to the establishment of the Canadian and American business at Brantford and New York. Although he was instrumental in the development of many machines in more recent years, great changes in bread manufacture had his personal interest, which were first introduced in Montreal, Chicago, New York, and other American centres, and have since begun the transformation of the trade throughout this country. These automatic bread plants with mechanical ovens ranging to over 100 feet in length deliver a continuous output of bread, untouched by hand in the process of manufacture from the flour into perfectly baked uniform loaves.

Early in his business career he entered into philanthropic and social work, and in 1895 was elected to represent East Finsbury on the London County Council, becoming successively Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Highways Committee.

In 1905 he entered Parliament for East Finsbury, and retained this seat until his death. Early in his Parliamentary career he used every effort towards establishing improved international relationships and, through his initiative, visits of representatives of foreign countries were arranged; and in spite of the war he continued to hope for the world's alliance for promoting international friendship.

He recently served on the Gas Commission, and the day before his death he had taken part at the International Parliamentary Conference of Commerce. He was a J.P. for Middlesex, but his other engagements frequently prevented his sitting on the Bench.

He was seized with sudden illness at the House of Commons on 2nd July 1918, and his death took place a few hours later, at the age of sixty-six.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1904.

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