Richard Baker










About Richard Baker

Richard Baker comes from a family established in the Meat Industry. He came to William Angliss in 1962 as an Apprentice Butcher working in Dandenong at Wilsons in Lonsdale Street. At that time there were eight butcher shops in Lonsdale Street and five more in the surrounding area. “All of us made a good living in Dandenong,” he remembered. Now Richard says, there are three Halal Butcher shops in the area and three supermarkets.

In those days if your father was a butcher you did not have to do an apprenticeship but Richard’s father thought it was a good idea for him to train elsewhere. Richard recalls:
It was good coming to William Angliss. I got to meet other apprentices to see what they were doing and learning. The trade was different then. Calves would come in with skins on and these had to be removed. Lambs came in with heads on and offal inside so the heads had to be removed and tongues removed and we had to take brains out and salt down hides.

After finishing his apprenticeship and his national service, Richard’s was encouraged by his father to apply for a job teaching at William Angliss. He remembers his first day:

I was taken to office and introduced to the other staff then I was taken to classroom and introduced to students (I was 27 at the time) and left there for the morning. I can’t remember exactly what I did but I think I talked about the trade. Then I went to Hawthorn Teachers College and did Train the Trainer and Dip Ed eventually!

Richard has been a very innovative teacher and personality in the meat trade. He was awarded a Churchill Scholarship and travelled to Europe where he studied different cuts of meat and muscle quality: matching muscles to cooking method and was a key person in changing from traditional pork cuts to the contemporary lean pork cuts we now use.

Richard believes that butchers always have a happy demeanour because they work such long hours and “being happy is instilled in them right from the start”.

Summary of the Interview

Interviewer:  Jill Adams
Interviewee: Richard Baker
Date: 14/04/2011
Recording Format: MP3 



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Apprenticeship, work and student life at WAI

  • Started apprenticeship in 1962 (5 year apprenticeship for 3 years for ½ day a week)
  • Get there at 8.00am and finish at 12 then had lunch on the train back to work, start work at 1.00pm
  • Apprentice at Wilson’s in Dandenong , who owned a chain of butcheries and abattoirs down the Peninsula through to Warragul
  • Father and grandfather both in meat trade had shops in Sandringham and Hampton, his father managed the shop at Dandenong at Wilson’s where Richard was an apprentice
  • Had a choice in those days that if your father owned or managed a butchers you did not have to attend school if a relative in the business could give training
  • It was good coming to WAI, he got to meet other apprentices and you learned what other people were learning in the trade
  • People ate more meat and they bought a week’s supply at the butcher and Tuesday was market day and farmers came in with cattle; lots more mutton sold because lamb was expensive
  • There were 3 apprentices with 3 fathers and a cashier and each had a specific task in the shop;  everything was cut and put on trays and put in the window and did the display
  • Taught practical steps and would watch demonstration and write it into books (no real hands-on experience in class)
  • Final exam/test  was given a set of ribs to bone and roll but luckily had a good mentor at work who had taught him
  • After apprenticeship spent a couple of years in the army doing national service then opened a shop with his father in Wattle Park
  • Saw an advertisement in the paper for a teacher in butchery at WAI and came back to teach
  • Donated meat from shops that would send what they wanted done by students, then WAI delivered the meat back to the businesses all cut up (the students did lots of dicing)
William Angliss Institute (WAI); apprenticeship;   Wilson’s Butcher;  butcheries; abattoirs; Dromana; Warragul; Peninsula; Sandringham; Hampton;  Dandenong; Lonsdale Street;  Dandenong; butcher; halal; supermarkets;  Apprenticeship Commission; calves; lambs; tongues; skins; offal; salt down hides; brains; meat; cut; mutton; window; market day;  Window dressing; cashier; snitchzel; Dutchman;  Kevin Hayden; Derek Hewitt; Benny Rumble; Small Goods; Wattle Park; mentor; army; national service; dicing;  Gilly McLean;  farmhouses;  Gary Broom;












Butchery at WAI

  • Class would go to the Auction and buy a pen of lamb, then watch them being slaughtered and they would be delivered. Each student would buy his own lamb and process it under our supervision and take it home, this taught about quality live animals, not possible now
  • Excellent facilities, with a canteen with sausage rolls made by the baking department
  • Theory room was a tin-shed separated from the hairdressing school by a thin wall
  • No calculators used, everything in pounds, shillings and pence, and the prices were written on the paper
  • Written reports went to each student & one sent to employer; now has a photo attached
  • Still a good trade as supermarkets mostly employ apprentices and  the training can lead to other things
  • Won the Churchill fellowship in 1988 and went to France
Ron Aulich; Keith Stewart; Coffee Academy; canteen; kiosk; baking department; breadcrumbs; hairdressing school;  Kevin Hayden; sausage rolls; potbelly stove heater; flue; arithmetic; Barell  Scales; Decimal  Currency;  Benny Rumble; Harry Broom; 1954; Churchill Fellowship; QE2; France


























Teaching at WAI/Butchery Insights

  • Father encouraged him to teach saw the advert in The Age;  got through the interviews & within an hour he had position
  • Started teaching in 1972 with Doug Wogie and Eddie Illingworth
  • Left in 1992 to run a retail butcher shop in South Melbourne for nearly 6 years then WAI called him to see if he was interested in coming back to teaching
  • In the 80s butcher shops were shutting down but the good ones could stay on that catered to people looking for something different (marinades, boning, rolling and seasoning of meats came in and these sold well)
  • Role in the Pork industry in 1976 at Bendigo Pig Fair, he cut up into ideal cuts for the consumer
  •  On the committee in 1977 at the trade fair and then an Advertising agency approached him to work on the department of Agriculture, cutting up pork around Australia
  • Also introduced a special yellow handled knife and would give away knives at the show
  • The cutting technique was adopted in New Zealand and Britain and even in Denmark; got free travel and accommodation, meals but no copyright, and helped the pork industry as the pig farmer was struggling
  • Experimented with Emu, Camel & Venison cuts
  • Churchill Fellowship produced a report on what muscle was best for what cooking technique
  • Research findings adopted by butchers and teachers at WAI
  • Butchers have had to respond to consumer needs and progress and are now selling meat ready for the cooking, already marinated and ready to BBQ
  • Memories of selling chickens at Christmas
Ron Day; Fay Moore; 1972; Doug Wogie; Eddie Illingworth; Mel Berryman; The Age; Ray Way; Ben Rumble; Spring Street); Hawthorn Teachers College; Diploma of Education; 1992; South Melbourne; Retail Butcher Shop; Marinades; Stuffing Mix; Progressive Butchery; boning; rolling; seasoning; Pork industry; Canadian; Bendigo Pig Fair; loin; pork chops; four quarters; cutlets; spare ribs; costed; boneless cuts; rind; silverside; 1977; Department of Agriculture;  Swyvo knives; Ian Lamb; New Zealand; University of Ontario; Britain; Denmark; Emu Meat; Venison; Camel; WA Department of Agriculture; Europe; 1988; 1990; stewing meat;  tender palatable meat; BBQ; Chicken;  Western Star Butter; Eggs; Christmas;


Changing times at WAI

  • College has changed, then the staff room was bigger and was a social and relaxing area for everyone
  • Office used to be an old butcher shop that was used for returned soldiers that needed retraining
  • Grocery area downstairs
  • [Looking at Memorabilia & Photos] Before the new wing there were huge numbers of apprentices so they had a building in Batman Street near the fire station and then they finished the building, they used to take a photograph of the whole group at Batman Street
  • Used to do demonstrations at the Royal Melbourne Show cutting up meat and making sausages making sausages
Staffroom; morning tea; afternoon tea; soldiers; grocery; meat department; Batman Street; Meat Hall; Bobby Stafford; Tommy Tonks; sausages; Benny Rumble; Royal Melbourne Show; Colin Wilson; Wooden Blocks; smoke house; pit; smoulder; gas jet; demonstration room; smallgoods room; helmets;  Andrew Ridder;  Ridder Fresh; Paul & Steve Moss; Gus Ridder;


More insights on Butchery

  • Tradition of butchers giving children a bit of sausage to eat; Butchers have this cheerful attitude instilled in them even though they worked such long hours
  • Memories about a building about to be demolished where all the hides used to be salted and tanned, the butchers didn’t mind the stink but everyone else used to cross the road to avoid it
Sorrento; Frankfurt; Strass; Spencer Street; Salted; tanned; The Age Building; Derrick Hewitt; Volkswagen; Angliss Restaurant; Top Cut;


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