Old Photos from the 1960s
Whaley’s Bakery Enniskillen in the 1960s — a few very special photos taken by my Dad, Humphrey Beacom, with his then brand new Zeiss Ikon Colora camera. They’d been lying unnoticed, randomly scattered amongst boxes of pics for the last 50 years.
He took these photos in January or February 1963, and they’re a special record of a bakery that was much loved and valued across County Fermanagh. But you know; it wasn’t easy to find them — I’ve spent the last three days wading through pics of Aunts, Great-Aunts, flared pants, American cousins and Killarney donkeys by the dozen. Each time I hit on one of the pics below though, the feeling of triumph was enough to spur me on to keep searching; until I’d been through every last photo Dad took in his lifetime.
Amazingly too, I found a photo Dad took of Enniskillen in 1962, before the houses at Head Street were demolished to make way for new car parks. The houses sat just across the water in the middle ground from centre to right of this photo, in the area of Enniskillen which now houses the library and two car parks. It sets the scene beautifully for the photos of Whaley’s bakery, which was just a short walk away behind St Macartin’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Parish Church.
Mum and Dad were market gardeners at Mullaghmeen, supplying all the best tables with home-grown beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, leeks, onions, scallions, potatoes, vegetable marrows, soup celery, parsley, strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries, and sweet pea flowers. People would drive for miles to buy their fruit and veg at our house, and as a child I rarely went to bed before midnight midsummer, helping Mum and Dad bunch scallions — tying them up with coloured rubber bands was my job.
Those evenings went on late in our house, because you see, Dad also had a day job. He started out as a good old-fashioned bread-man with Whaley’s bakery, after working in Birney’s of Lisnaskea, and Abbott’s butchers in Enniskillen (subsequently George Graham Meats and now J.Trimble Meats). Mr Whaley trained Dad in mastering the art of arriving back at the bakery with every last loaf and Paris bun sold and accounted for — sage advice Dad subsequently passed on to me, which proved very useful in my own bakery down through the years.
Old Bakery Photos
Dad always wore a freshly laundered shirt, neat tie, and a crisp white coat for the job.
Even years after Dad had left Whaley’s and gone to work for Rank Hovis McDougall, he still loved to talk about the great times he had at Whaley’s, and all the fun and camaraderie with the bakers there.
I’m posting the photos today, 18th August 2016, because I can’t wait to show them to you, before I’ve tracked down the names of all the bakers in the pics. There’s one I know, and a couple I think I know, though I wasn’t born yet when these were taken. If you know anyone in the pics, or any old stories about bakery life back then, it’d be great if you added them in a comment below this post.
One of the hottest jobs in the bakery — working the hotplate. You have to move fast at this job — I’m sure there wasn’t a minute to stop for the photograph!
Anyway, I’ve gone off track again; I’m sure you’re used to it by now on this blog. It’s been an emotional week going through Dad’s memories — I’ll just pull myself together again and go back to filing some more recipes. I still use the old keepsake Whaley’s bread basket Dad gave me as a good luck mascot . . .
All photos © Viola Dono
Update: 28th August 2016: Big thanks to Jimmy Donnelly and Family for filling in lots of names!
Update: Big thanks to Benny Cassidy who runs the wonderful Facebook page Old Enniskillen. Thanks to his sharing of this post on the Old Enniskillen page, these pictures have reached people all over the world who may never have found them without him. Benny connects people day in day out with his enthusiastic and dedicated diligence maintaining a busy page that has come to mean so much to so many people. Hats off to Benny – take a look now and give Old Enniskillen a like on Facebook, you never know what you’ll see there next!
My new book The Sensitive Human is now available everywhere on Amazon, published under my maiden name.
Hardly surprising, Dad’s a central figure in the book too, opening the scene in the prologue which begins in the strawberry fields, March 1967.
Benny Cassidy gets a mention in the book too, and of course this Whaley’s post, in the section on social media. It’s a long story . . .
A local man told me the other day how as a child he and his friends would call at Whaley’s bakery for a lump of unbaked dough, which was given to the children free of charge. They would head off to the Broadmeadow with this dough and their fishing rods, and spend the day fishing on the lake. He said the dough made great bait. That was in the late 60s and early 70s and the man recalled a baker called Alfie Ritchie who worked in Whaley’s until the business closed, and who then went to work for a local bank in town. He also recalled a special loaf wrapper with Devenish tower on it, though he wasn’t sure if this was Whaley’s or not.