THE baker’s cart might have been intended for something more pony-size, but the sight of a giant Clydesdale pulling it along Baal Street, Palmyra earlier this month was a treat as the Melville History Society celebrated its 40th birthday.
The MHS was formed in 1983 and was instrumental in saving the heritage-listed Miller Bakehouse from demolition, making it the perfect venue for its big shindig.
Vice president Pam Neesham said more than 300 people came to the birthday.
“There were digital displays of historic photos courtesy of the City of Melville, family trees, a Miller bible and pictures of the Miller, Neesham, McManus and Coleman wedding families,” Ms Neesham said.
If some of the names seem familiar and the crowd healthy, that’s hardly surprising; original baker Henry Miller and his wife Margaret, who managed the business, had 13 children and are linked to several WA sporting dynasties through five of their daughters.
One of their children, Ted, is still living and gave the Herald the roll call of sporting greats linked to the bakehouse.
International soccer star Sam Kerr hails from the Regan side of the family, which also produced WAFL stars such as East Freo great John “Con” Regan; the McManus side produced Docker stalwart Shaun and entertainer Rove (though not noted for sporting prowess); the Neeshams can claim four-time Olympic water polo champion David and AFL star Gerard, while the Sheehy and Miller families themselves are scions of WA’s horse racing fraternity.
Henry had been a WA boxing champion in his day.
Mr Miller said his mother designed the spacious bakery, at the time the biggest in the state.
“Seven sons baked bread and delivered by horse and cart,” he said.
But the mechanisation of bakeries caught up with the family eventually, as they’d continued to produce old-style loaves while others moved to the sliced and wrapped loaves that today fill supermarket shelves.
The cost of revamping the whole bakery proved prohibitive and it was closed in 1976 and sold off to Melville council for a park. The building fell into neglect and was due to be demolished, but was saved by the MHS and a Bicentenary grant.