Albert MEABY

Photograph of headstone which us a stone cross mounted on a stone base - the cross is mostly obscured with ivy.

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.

front of a house with the sign

Mt Meaby ran both bakeries at the same time.

Important Notice to the Public
Machine-made Bread made only at the Queen’s Road Bakery
Albert Meaby
Katesgrove and De Beauvoir Road Bakeries
Begs to announce that he has purchased the old established business of Mr J Shepherd of 82 Queen’s Road, Reading, together with the shop, residence, steam bakery, premises and machinery connected therewith, and he is now prepared to supply the public with every variety of plain and fancy bread of reliable purity and quality, untouched by hand in the process of making.
The Queen’s Road Steam Bakery is the only establishment of its kind in the town and possesses facilities for the manufacture of immense quantities of pure and well-baked bread, biscuits &c, baked in ovens heated under a new principle where no smoke or dirt of any kind can get in and quite doing away with the old system of shoffling which for cleanliness and purity cannot be surpassed.
All cakes and confectionary of best quality only supplied fresh daily.  A trial solicited.
Carts to every part of the town daily, also to Caversham.
Albert Meaby
The Queen’s Road Steam Bakery
And at
52, De Beauvoir Road, Reading
Announcement from the Reading Observer, Saturday, 4th November, 1885    

Albert was a baker in Reading for several years when he decided to team up with a miller called Farnworth in 1880s.

Image of a painting of Meaby's shop at 82 Queens Road - the painting shows the shop front with cakes etc in the window and women in Victorian attire inside the shop
Detail from th watercolour painting by William Frederick Austin sold from Barbara Leigh antiques. For close up of the painting, visit the website.

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. 

Image of a framed watercolour painting of Meaby's shop at 82 Queens Road with the flour mill next door (to the right of the shop). In the foreground is a house and cart carrying some of the business's products
Watercolour painting by William Frederick Austin sold from Barbara Leigh antiques. For close up of the painting, visit the website.

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.’

Image of a painting of a horse drawn cart with painted signs reading "Harry  Meaby's Confectioner, Fancy Bread and cake Manufacturer". "Machine Bakery, Queens Road".
Detail from the watercolour painting by William Frederick Austin.

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.

Photo of the base of the monument which reads "In loving memory of our dear father ALBERT MEABY who passed peacefulyl way November 15th 1897 aged 51 years. Not gone from memory not gone from love but gone to a better home above / [kerbs] also of his wife SARAH ELIZABETH MEABY died Jan 30 1925 aged 92 years".

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