Changes and Developments along the years

Rail Damage

Baumann’s, Pyotts and Bakers all railed biscuits to the Transvaal, but the volume from Bakers was far greater than either of the other two.  We at Bakers found that this railage transport was very unsatisfactory.  Although we would load a truck a day, very often three or four trucks would arrive on one day having been accumulated over a week somewhere along the way.  We also had to carry bigger biscuit stocks in our warehouse than we would have liked to tide us over the delays.  Other problems were that there were damaged corrugated containers in almost every truck and the chocolate-coated biscuits had to survive sometimes in a hot metal truck for several days.

The government had laid down a railway system in order to open up the country and provide railage access to the farmers and distant villages.  All goods were placed into categories and a railage rate was set for each category, the principle being that luxury items would be charged an extra high rate in order to compensate and subsidize, for example, farm products.  Biscuits travelled at rate two.  The cost of transport was high, but was absorbed into the price of the biscuits.  It was forbidden by law to send products to Johannesburg by any other means than by rail.

There was however the proviso that if any user could show that the railways were not giving a satisfactory service then application could be made to the Road Transport Board for exemption to carry biscuits by road.  Cost was never permitted to be quoted as a factor.

Bakers decided to apply for an exemption.  Records and photographs were accumulated over a period of four years with regular applications to the Road Transportation Board for exemption to transport goods (overnight) by road.  After quite a struggle they were first given a temporary exemption and then later, in 1968, a permanent exemption.  Baumann’s and Pyotts did not make any efforts along these lines, except that Mr Thompson of Pyotts did ask me how we accomplished this exemption.  When I explained to him about the lengthy process that we had been through I think that he must have decided that, bearing in mind their smaller railings, it was not worth the effort.