The organisation was originally established in December 1832 and was known as ‘The London Master Bakers’ Pension Society’. In 1854 it was decided to build Almshouses, 10 were opened in 1857 and 52 were built by 1866. In the late 1870s the Society became known as ‘The London Master Bakers’ Pension and Almshouse Society’. In 1923 it became ‘The London Master Bakers’ Benevolent Institution’ and at that time help could only be given to Master Bakers or their dependants who lived within a 12-mile radius of Charing Cross.
By the middle of the 1950s the shape of the London Baking Trade was changing from numerous one-man businesses to a mix of family bakers and group bakers. Questions arose as to –
a) Who qualified as a Master Baker, and
b) The boundaries within which the institution could operate.
As a result of a High Court Ruling, it was decided to draw up a new set of Rules to be able to help a greater number of people. ‘The Scheme’, as it was called by the Charity Commissioners, came into effect in October 1970.
This made the Society into a National Charity and, at the same time, the name was changed to ‘The Bakers’ Benevolent Society’. These Rules enable the Society to help those of retirement age who had worked in the Baking Industry or its Allied Trades. The boundaries were extended to cover the whole of the United Kingdom.
By the middle of the 1950s the buildings at Leyton were nearly 100 years old. Although very well maintained, they contained no modern conveniences. The Trustees considered three alternatives:
1. Modernise existing buildings.
2. Demolish and completely rebuild at Leyton.
3. Build on another site.
In the event the decision was made for them. A request was received from Leyton Borough Council to negotiate with them for the sale of the site, which they required for redevelopment. In 1966 agreement was reached with the Local Authority on the sale of Leyton.
The site at Epping was bought in 1965. The Villas at Epping were occupied in June 1973, when the 21 residents from Leyton were moved to their new homes. They were officially opened in September 1973 by the Lord Lieutenant of the County, Sir John Ruggles-Brise and they were capable of housing 60 Residents.
In 1966 a preservation order was placed on the Almshouses at Leyton as being of historical and architectural interest and these can still be seen in the Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, E10.
New homes were planned for the North West of England and new Bakers’ Villas were opened in Congleton in 1986, providing accommodation for a further 23 Residents. Unfortunately, the demand for this kind of Sheltered Housing was never as high in the North of England and the Villas at Congleton were sold in March 2004. However, the Staff were retained and the Residents had their tenancy secured for the future and remained as beneficiaries of the Society. The new owners also agreed to give preference to any future beneficiary of the Society.