Take the search for an old ute, mix with a COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, sprinkle with Judith Anderson’s passion for her hometown of Warwick where she grew up in a family of bakers and you have the recipe for Judith’s first book, Earning a Crust.
Exploring the lives of the people who worked in the baking trade in Warwick during the century after the town’s establishment in 1861, Earning a Crust features stories of more than 20 baking families before the era of sliced bread as well as the history of the town’s flour mills. Supported by scores of historic photographs, advertisements, maps and newspaper clippings, many supplied by descendants of the featured bakers, Earning a Crust also explores the bread making process, the impact of technology and societal change and the tools of the trade.
For author Judith Anderson, it is a personal story as well as a passionately researched account of the first century of the baking trade Warwick.
Born into a family of Warwick bakers, Judith lived her first 18 years beside the Brown family bakery before pursuing higher education and a career which ranged from teaching, health education, and journalism to marketing, management and the performing arts, including 13 years as General Manager of Queensland Ballet. Now retired, she lives in Brisbane.
The stimulus for Earning a Crust came from a search for the FX Holden ute used to deliver the family bakery’s bread.
“In early 2020 I was contacted by the owner of the ute who was trying to trace its history,” Judith said.
“My search for information about the ute drew me into Warwick’s history, to the city’s very first bakers and bakeries and those of the first half of the 20th century. The people I discovered were enterprising, resilient, hard-working and generous but largely unknown and unsung. At the end of the process, I felt that their stories should be told and preserved. Earning a Crust is the result.”
Not one to loaf around during the COVID-19 lockdown, Judith used the time to reach out to descendants of the many Warwick baking families to aid her research. Judith was overwhelmed by their response.
“Many bakers, baking families and people with a connection to Warwick responded to my requests for information, stories and photographs,” Judith said.
“Fortuitously, the months of restricted activity imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 meant that they had the time to reflect and respond and I had the time to research and write.
“What I discovered is a strong community of people with a real passion for Warwick and the Southern Downs who share my desire to help preserve the region’s history and to recognise the people who created that history,” Judith said.
“This community of people, many of whom live outside the region, have been instrumental in my research and enthusiastic in their support, and I am very grateful to them. In fact, they have sparked ideas for my next book about the region—but that’s for another time.”