Corn Exchange, Lake Street, Leighton Buzzard c.1900 [Z1306/72/9/2]
Thursday 12th April 1917: Baker Leonard Charles Jones of Stanbridge has pleaded guilty at the Luton Divisional Police Court to being in possession of an unjust scale at Totternhoe on 21st March and to offering for sale an underweight loaf on the same date. This was the first case brought under the new Bread Order of the Food Controller which provides that no loaf of bread should be offered for sale unless it weighs one pound or an even number of pounds. With the current high price of bread it is considered essential to ensure that the Bread Order is rigidly enforced.
Frederick George Hyde, an employee of Mr. Jones, was seen selling bread at Totternhoe from a cart, using a scale from which a bearing was missing at one end. If the bread was put on one end of the scale it would be two ounces against the customer, and if on the other it would be two ounces against the seller. When the loaves were checked the majority were found to be the proper weight of one or two pounds. However, one loaf was found to be one ounce six drams underweight. While this may appear a small amount it amounts to a fairly thick slice. If the baker had one hundred customers and supplied them with two loaves each, it would be the equivalent of filching from them sixty loaves in a week.
The Inspector of Weights and Measures for the county produced the offending scale, which was clearly in an unsatisfactory condition with the leverage affected by the missing bearing. Mr. Jones said the Inspector had used and inspected the scales many times before and they must have been correct. He knew nothing about the little piece broken off the end, and could not explain it unless it was a result of the continual jarring of the cart on the rough, country roads. The Inspector stated that Mr. Jones had occasionally submitted the scales for checking at the Corn Exchange in Leighton Buzzard, but the last time he had tested them was at least six months earlier. The Chairman of the Bench imposed a fine of 40 shillings for the faulty scales and 20 shillings for the underweight loaf, making it clear that when people were struggling with the high price of food such matters would be taken very seriously indeed. The scales were to be confiscated.
Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 17th April 1917
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