Early Biscuits Manufacturers

Whyte's Biscuit Factory in Port Elizabeth

Mr Whyte was a bread baker trading as “John Whyte & Co, Steam Bread & Cake Bakery” at 27 Princes Street.  He was in no way related to Whyte’s Bakery in Durban.   He eventually sold his factory to the South African Milling Company, which operated in that area.  The factory continued for another three years under this new ownership, but was then closed down in 1934.

He probably started his factory about 1910 and here is a picture of one of his biscuit tins.  It will be noticed that on the picture that there appears the words “Port Elizabeth” and also the words “Machine Made”.  The two columns seem to indicate he traded in other areas because they contain the words “Kimberley”, “Johannesburg”, “Durban”, “East London”, “King Williams Town”, “Cape Town” and “Port Elizabeth”.

Photograph above : A Whyte No. 5 Biscuit Tin found at a museum claiming on the side “celebrated machine-made biscuits”.

Whyte's Biscuit Factory in Durban

Mr Whyte was a bread baker.  He installed biscuit machinery in 1917 but was not very successful and in 1924 closed his biscuit operations.   I know very little about him.  It is on record that during June 1917 Mr Whyte approached my grandfather (J M L Baumann) with a suggestion that they should combine their two businesses into one organisation and he produced a set of suggestions and conditions.

My grandfather was advised by his lawyer, Mr G A F Brett, in a long hand-written letter, that he considered the two men (Baumann and Whyte) to be of completely different temperament and so advised my grandfather against such a merger as he felt sure that it would in future lead to some difficulties.  My grandfather did not pursue this any further.

When the factory closed down Bakers Limited purchased the automated biscuit cutting machinery.  This was a Vicar’s machine, made in Britain, but it was always referred to in-house as “The Whytes Biscuit Cutting Machine”.

I can remember that in 1947 there was still a bread bakery called Whyte and Co operating in Durban.  This and three other bread companies, in the next year or two, combined to form a single, larger bakery called Durban Amalgamated Bakeries, or DABS for short.