Ron Smith








About Name Surname

 Much has changed in the Bakery business since Ron Smith started his apprenticeship as a baker in Carrum in 1961. When he came to William Angliss it was his first year as an apprentice. He explains that you came in blocks of two-week duration three times a year. His apprenticeship was for five years: four years of schooling “and then you had to get your qualification as a dough maker at your place of employment and then you qualified as a baker.”

Ron says that the industry has changed dramatically since he started out. In 1961 a baker could only deliver in a thirty-mile circumference of the bakery. Each bakery had its own bread carters to deliver the bread five days a week. On Monday Wednesday and Friday the bread was delivered to country areas with the post. It had to be ready by 5.00 am every morning. The ‘doughs’ had to be fermented and this could take between one and twelve hours so the dough maker would start their shift during the day and the bread makers came on in the evening and worked through the night. Ron says of the bakery trade now and then:       

People are discovering artisan bread – but that was normal for us! The best time to be working as a baker, as far as skill was concerned, was in the 60s when I started. It is very different now. The quality is different. Today’s quality is very good – it is square, white, keeps well and it is very good bread. But it doesn’t have the flavour and texture and aroma of old bread. The trade is magnificent now and today’s students are well educated and they want to learn. They are young vibrant and they have exciting ideas for different flavours and presentations – it is a terrific industry.

Ron stayed with the small baker for 18 months then left to get experience in high volume bread baking. He worked for several large bakeries before leaving to work for William Angliss as a bakery teacher. This was at a time when small bakeries were disappearing and large bakeries and franchises were moving in to the business. Ron had valuable skills to pass on.

He left teaching and bought a bakery in Alexandria, a country town out of Melbourne. After building this business he sold and moved back to Melbourne. Not long after he bought three bakeries in Eltham, Hurstbridge and Diamond Creek but sold them to Brumby’s and Baker’s Delight. Once again without a bakery Ron was lured back to William Angliss and sessional teaching. This turned into fulltime teaching and eventually running the Patisserie department.

William Angliss was a terrific place to come to school – we had a great time and I still stay in touch with some of the people I studied with. William Angliss was small then and it was like a family – we all knew each other.

Summary of the Interview


Interviewer:  Jill Adams
Interviewee:  Ron Smith
Date of Interview: 30 November 2010
Recording Format: MP3



Key words


Student life at William Angliss

  • Began apprenticeship in 1961 in block release – 3 times a year – 2 weeks at a time
  • Completed a five year apprenticeship as a baker – four years schooling and a one year qualification as a dough maker in place of employment
  • Graduated as a baker in 1965
Apprenticeship; block release; dough maker; baking; qualification; 1961; 1965; graduated;




















Bread & Baking Process

  • Specific skills required as a baker to produce dough – 1 to 12 hours fermentation for different types
  • Nowadays the whole baking process has changed – technology etc., but the swing back to artisan bread making were the skills required of an apprentice back then
  • Popular breads were High tin, Devon loaf, oyster loaves. These were delivered by horse and cart out with the mail- mostly household and farm deliveries
  • Bread was posted to roadside meter boxes – still happens in some country towns now but back then it was common
  • Bakery had their own bread carters – did their rounds and delivered to every household,  and a couple of rounds went to shops
  • Bakery sold bread, cakes, pies and pastries, located on Nepean highway near the railway station in Carrum
  • Flour was stored out in the barn – bread was baked at night; the dough maker would start at 7.00am and his first dough was ready for the baker at 7.00pm; then bakers worked through the night and the bread was ready for delivery by 5.00/6.00am
Dough making; trade; fermentation; artisan bread; hot bread shops; yeast activators; baking process; popular breads; 1960s; High tin, Devon loaf, oyster loaves; Carrum; horse & cart deliveries; Frankston; mail cart; Patterson Lakes; Dandenong; roadside meter boxes; bread carters; shops; Nepean highway; railway station; flour; bakers; barn; delivery; cakes; pies; pastries;


Training at WAI

  • Would prepare the dough for baking in the morning (timed dough) then do academic studies (maths, science and business studies) then after lunch the dough would be ready for processing
  • Bake bread in old Scotch or wood fired ovens
Dough; baking; timed dough; academic studies; maths; food science; business studies; scotch oven; wood fired ovens

8. 08

Early Career Reflections

  • Left school and found employment in a bakery and enjoyed it and stayed for 18 months
  • Found a job with Tip Top Bakeries in Brunswick in a large production
  • Then went to Connors and Crow, which were developing American Batter mix
  • Then onto Home Pride and was promoted to Production Manager  where he opened several bakeries around Victoria
Bonbeach, Christmas; Carrum; Frankston; Chelsea; Connors and Crow; Tip Top Bakeries; Sunicrust Bakeries; American Batter mix; Home Pride; production manager;


Bakery& Bread Industry Changes

  • There was a limit on how far a baker could deliver bread – 30 miles – so different branches around enabled them to spread out with larger reach(e.g. Heathcote to Ballarat to Bendigo to Echuca, etc.)
  • Bread was only available 5 days a week back then, and on Friday there was late-bake bread – which was sliced and wrapped in foil
  • Home delivery phased out and then bread available 7 days a week
  • Then small franchise bakeries started opening up – first one was called Hades Hot Bread then Golden Top; then Baker’s Delight opened; Brumby’s, Fergussen Plarre, etc.
  •  Franchises were the demise of the larger bakeries
Victoria; Heathcote; Ballarat; 30 mile limit; Bendigo; Echuca; Tyabb; Phillip Island; foil; late-bake bread; weekend bread; sliced; gimmick; trucks; franchise; home delivery; Bolte; Hades Hot Bread; Golden Top; Baker’s Delight; Brumby’s; Fergussen Plarre;


Reflection on the Bread Industry & Bakeries

  • Best time to be working as far as skill was in the 60s when he started
  • It is a big difference now – quality is different – today’s quality is very good – square, white, good quality, but it doesn’t have the flavour and texture and aroma of old bread
  • people are beginning to re-discovering artisan bread, which was normal back then
  •  Magnificent trade now and today’s students are well educated and they want to learn – young vibrant and have exciting ideas of different flavours and presentations – a terrific industry
1960s; skills; bread; gassed up; quality; cakes; pastries; presentation; industry; trade; colourings; preservatives; European & Asian influences


Awards/Recognition at WAI

  • Was the Dux of the bakery school and an award in the final year
  • Twelve students in the class (mostly retired now)
Dux; bakery school; engraved silver tray;


Career & Teaching at WAI

  • Taught at WAI twice; Keith Stewart offered him a job to teach for 9 years
  • Then left teaching at WAI and bought a bakery at Alexandria to practise what he has taught at WAI. Within 12 months the business had grown by 300%– it was very successful and stayed that way for a few years
  • Came back to Melbourne after selling business and bought a crèche in Bell Street, but got sick of it so sold it
  • Bought another bakery and built it up and then a few more- he was in a good location and other franchises bought him out
  • Then retired and was offered some sessional work at WAI; worked in patisserie and stayed for 15 years
  • Working Overseas in China with the Institute – learned a lot by taking bakery and patisserie over in China. Loved working with the Chinese students
Teaching at WAI; Keith Stewart; franchise; Alexandria; Melbourne crèche; Bell Street; freeway; catering; Flemington Racecourse;  Diamond Creek; Eltham; Hurstbridge; Baker’s Delight; Brumby’s; sessional teaching; patisserie; China;


WAI Career Highlights

  • Highlights are taking the patisserie to the level it is now at – interest in patisserie is very high
  •  Believes that patisserie is be a combination of the baking trades
  • The appeal of cakes, something that is nice to do, quite satisfying to see the end result and the work that goes into it and to understand what you have to do to take it further to make a profit on it
  • ‘To make a cake to get the right spring and texture and it does taste nice … that is why you come to school to learn that.’
Patisserie; chocolate; cakes; decorating cakes; profit; spring; texture; taste


Reflections on WAI

  • Finally retiring – unsure of what he is going to do … hope he can get through his ‘r’ list prepared by his wife
  • Terrific place to come to school; had a great time. It was a nice place to come and still in touch with people he studied with
  • When he did his apprenticeship it was to learn, like a family
Retiring; Wayne Crosbie; Ray Way; Gary Dicts; Bakery; butchery; hospitality; pastry; business;


Interview Ends


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