When the Bread Came by Horse and Cart

I remember before supermarkets and sliced bread in plastic bags, hot, fresh bread was delivered, unsliced of course, by the baker in his horse and cart.

It may be a trick of nature, but it doesn’t seem all that long ago that the baker’s horse, a large, gentle creature that needed no guidance and was loved by all the neighbourhood children, would slowly clip-clop up and down the street, following the baker on his daily round.

I may be remembering the scene through a child’s eyes but life seemed so much more innocent, simpler and slower back then.

The delivery man’s only tool of trade (aside from his knowledge of the round) was the large wicker basket filled with warm bread and covered with a clean white linen cloth.

The baker’s cart was always brightly painted, with the name of the bakery painted on the side while the interior was lined with wooden shelving on which sat perhaps hundreds of loaves of crusty bread, all baked fresh that morning. The delivery man’s only tool of trade (aside from his knowledge of the round) was the large wicker basket, into which he would place the still warm bread and cover with a clean white linen cloth. Each morning the aroma of fresh bread would fill the street along with the smell of the horse and occasionally the odour of a large steaming heap of horse dung, an extra bonus for dad’s vegie patch.

The horse seemed to know exactly when to stop so the baker could refill his basket as he ran from house to house, delivering a loaf or loaves into a bread tin, left on the front veranda. During school holidays all the kids in the neighbourhood would wait at the end of the street and a lucky one or two would be chosen to hold the reins of the old horse as he slowly meandered along the road. Sometimes too there would be a fresh yeast bun from the basket for the children waiting patiently for their turn.

It’s sad to think that in this day and age the baker would probably be under suspicion for some crime for touching a child as he lifted him/her into the seat behind the horse, plus there would be the possibility of litigation should a child happen to fall or be in any way injured.

From memory the bread man came every day as bread back then had no preservatives and after just a day or so would be stale. That’s when mum

Equal opportunity employer. Sometimes the baker was a lady, but the bread was always fresh and crusty

would make her bread and butter pudding with raisins, served with hot custard, I can almost taste it now!

As far as I’m aware, bread delivery by horse and cart continued on in some Adelaide suburbs until the 1970s. Gradually though the horses were replaced by bread vans which also eventually disappeared from our roads and now most people simply purchase their bread from a supermarket.

Do you remember the baker delivering bread in his horse and cart?

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  1. Yes during the 1950’s we owned a bakery in Glenhuntly. We had 7 deliver rounds in the area and surrounds. It was called SWANS – Burns and Cuddon. Was great when Dad had to take a horse to visit the Black Smith to get reshod. The Farrier operated out of Neerim road in Carnegie; the suburb next to us. AND there was no delivery charge in those days. During school holidays I helped out by being what they called “A Jockey” and learnt off by heart the customers we had in the area. Also helped Dad with making the doughs each Thursday night — I was only 12 years old but enjoyed every minute working with my father.

  2. My mother used to follow the horse with a shovel and a bucket………… We had pretty good strawberries and cucumbers..

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