Life story told by Yota Dimitriadi with additional material from Cynthia and Steve Thomas.
Albert Meaby was born in Baughurst, Hampshire in 1846. The 1881 census records show that he lived with his 4 sons: James (12 years), Arthur (10 years), Harry (9 years), Alfred (7 years); 2 daughters: Emma (6 years), Alice (3 years) ; his son in law Jonathan George (20 years) and daughter in law Elizabeth Grace 18 years.
He started his bakery at 52 De Beauvoir Road and in 1885 he purchased “the old established business of Mr J. Shepherd of 82 Queen’s Road, together with the shop, residence, steam bakery, premises and machinery connected therewith” (Reading Observer, Saturday, November 14, 1885). There is still a sign about the bakery at De Beauvoir Road.
Mt Meaby ran both bakeries at the same time.
Albert was a baker in Reading for several years when he decided to team up with a miller called Farnworth in 1880s.
A flour mill was built next to the bakery, on Queen’s Road (BIAG, 2014). This mill can be seen on the right of the painting below.
Albert`s triticumina (wheat) was a kind of improved flour made from malted grain which was considered to be more easily digestible, and particularly suitable for children and people of ill health. The name ‘triticumina’, comes from the Latin word ‘triticum’, meaning ‘wheat’. Its rival, ‘Hovis’ came from the Latin ‘hominis vis’ from the Latin ‘the strength of man.’
In 1891 Meaby formed a company under the name of Meaby’s Triticumina Company, based on Queen’s Road and South Street but there is correspondence from around 1890 in the Hunter & Palmer archive relating to an offer made by Meaby to Huntley & Palmer for them to purchase the Meaby business. This was subsequently refused by Huntley & Palmer.
In 1898, the year of this painting, the Triticumina Company changed their trading name to ‘The Reading Biscuit Company’. Meaby’s local rivals, the well-known and successful biscuit manifacturers Huntley & Palmers did not approve of this change. In May 1893 Meaby found himself in the High Court of Justice in the trademark case: “Huntley and Palmer v. The Reading Biscuit Company Limited”. Huntley and Palmer won a legal injunction to prevent Meaby from calling their biscuits “Reading Biscuits.”
Meaby had built a large new factory in South Street to produce the biscuits. He was forced to sell the factory and cut back the size of the business.
Albert died on 15th November 1897, at the age of 51.
The Meaby Bakery was still trading in Reading until well into the 20th century. Their lardy cake was considered legendary!
A. H. G. Brown, trading as Harry Meaby, a bakery shop proprietor of Reading. was declared bankrupt in July 1976 (The London Gazette, 12th August 1976).
Buried in Section 29, Row G, Number 19