Baker's cart gave us our daily bread

Bake in the day: The Golden Crust bakery cart at the Coalfields Museum. Photo: Coalfields Museum.

Bake in the day: The Golden Crust bakery cart at the Coalfields Museum. Photo: Coalfields Museum.

One of the most popular exhibits at the Coalfields Museum is the baker's cart, complete with a bread basket.

Museum volunteers often need to explain to children that the cart was drawn by horses, something which is quite unimaginable in today's world.

However, bread was still being delivered by horse and cart throughout Collie well into the late 1960s.

We tend to think that we live in the age of convenience, with supermarkets and hot bread shops, but having bread (and milk) delivered to your doorstep six days a week was a real convenience.

The carts were pulled by horses, one for the north side of the railway line, and one for the south side.

The horses knew the routes and would stop at a house for the baker to jump off with his basket; he would then deliver loaves to two or three houses, while the horse moved on to the next stop.

The baker would return to the cart and collect the next deliveries from the cupboard on the cart.

I lived on the south side of the railway line, and one day the baker was late.

I asked him why, and he explained that the "south side" horse was lame, so the "north side" horse was delegated to do the south side after it finished its normal round.

The horse knew it was the wrong side of the railway line for him, so every time the baker got off the cart, it turned around and headed for home!

The baker kept having to catch him and bring him back.

Several dogs enjoyed going on the round with the horses and would wait every day at the bakery, which was located in Ogden Street, so they could accompany the horse and cart - except on Sundays.

The dogs knew there was no delivery on Sundays, so they did not turn up - but how they knew it was Sunday is a mystery.

The building behind the house, which is opposite the Museum was at one time a bakery, and its ovens still exist there.

Mass production of bread (especially sliced bread) and the advent of hot bread shops brought the demise of the old-fashioned bakeries, and door-to-door sales became a thing of the past, but for older visitors to the museum, the sight of the baker's cart revives the memories of freshly baked bread delivered with a smile.