rethinking bread since 1892
The baker that founded our business was larger than life. Thomas Allinson was an extraordinary man, renowned for his views on a range of topics. He enjoyed fame during his lifetime, and provided a legacy that’s embodied in Allinson’s Bread.
The Serious Baker
Thomas Allinson’s professional life began when he graduated as a Licentiate of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1879. He had worked to put himself through medical school and gained his degree at the tender age of 21. He distinguished himself during his studies, winning a medal in practical chemistry and a special prize in public health.
The Generous Baker
Allinson worked as an assistant in a general practice in Hull and then in Shoreditch between the years 1880 and 1884. He acted as a police surgeon and parish doctor, tending to the poorest. He developed a lifelong opposition to stimulants such as tobacco and alcohol and gained an interest in vegetarianism. The latter led him to join the London Food Reform Society, which later became the Vegetarian Society. It was through this organisation that he met Gandhi, a friendship that lasted until Allinson’s death.
The Respectful Baker
As revolutionary as some of Allison’s views appeared to his contemporaries, he still had a healthy respect for tradition. In his 1889 book, The Advantages of Wholemeal Bread, he laid out his support for what had once been the cornerstone of the British diet. Even as white bread’s popularity grew, he understood that new did not necessarily mean better.
The Passionate Baker
Allinson wasn’t content with simply expounding his ideas in essays and books. He lived them. Many of his contemporaries believed that eating meat was essential to a healthy diet. He wanted to prove that a well-rounded vegetarian diet was just as good. He embarked on an arduous trek from Edinburgh to London on foot to show that his vegetarianism was no obstacle to strenuous physical effort. He walked for fifteen days straight, averaging 28.5 miles per day.
The Baker with Big Ideas
He was just as passionate about his belief in wholemeal bread, and he wanted as many people as possible to benefit from it. In 1892 he opened his own flour mill to ensure that bakers had access to top-quality wholemeal flour. That mill was the seed that grew into Allinson’s.
The Progressive Baker
Time and again, Allinson proved that he was ahead of his time. Perhaps the best example was his 1894 health manual A Book for Married Women. His book advocated sexual equality in marriage and a woman’s right to choose the size of her family.
the rebel baker
Throughout his life, Thomas Allinson feuded with the medical profession and other naysayers who disputed his claims about how to maintain good health. A century later, we know that neither side was entirely right. What’s striking is how Allinson stood by his beliefs, even when his professional standing seemed to be in danger. Allinson was vindicated when it came to vegetarianism, his stance on women’s rights, and wholemeal bread. We know now that vegetarianism is a perfectly healthy lifestyle choice and that wholemeal bread is not only nutritious, but delicious.
Today, we’re just as passionate about baking as Allinson was all those years ago. Over the past century we’ve honed our recipes, using flour from our own mills and experimenting with new, carefully-selected ingredients to deliver delicious breads.