Rules and regulations

The firm was very concerned with the image that it presented to the town. Men and women were required to enter and leave the factory by different routes and at different times. They also worked in separate rooms.

Huntley & Palmers staff line the street to welcome the Prince of Wales' visit in 1926. The segregation of male and female employees is very clear, with women wearing white and men in darker clothes. (REDMG : 1997.120.268.4)


From the start the firm laid down rules and regulations ‘For the purpose of preserving good order’ in the factory. Fines were imposed for poor conduct - swearing, striking anyone or injuring any machine through wantonness or neglect cost 1s. Absenting yourself without leave, bringing intoxicating liquor on to the premises or smoking led to a fine of 6d. Working with hands or face unwashed meant a 2d fine.

Breaking the rules

In 1951 smoking in the lavatory or stealing biscuits led to dismissal. If you were caught cutting your toe-nails in the cake department, as one worker was in 1950, you were likely to be suspended for two days and moved to another department on your return.

Conditions of work at the Reading Biscuit Factory, October 1947 (object no.1997.82.6)

The rules on good conduct extended to outside the factory gates. When a heavy fall of snow occurred one December, a notice about ‘Snow Balling in the Streets’ proclaimed: ‘It will be a kind and MANLY act for everyone to discountenance it and help to make it known in the Office when any serious offence occurs’.

The Sick Fund

All fines for misbehaviour were paid into the Sick Fund box. The Fund was set up in 1849 to benefit employees or their families who had experienced a death or serious illness. It was a compulsory scheme to which all employees had to contribute 6d per week and employees had to be medically examined before becoming members.

The doctor's surgery at Huntley & Palmers. Qualified medical attention was always available and the doctor attended each day. (Object no. 1997.130.442)

Not surprisingly, strict rules were applied to the scheme. Anyone receiving benefit was forbidden to travel more than two miles from home. To ensure compliance with the rules, the employee living nearest to the sick person had to call on him once a week to check he really was incapacitated.

The Sickness and Accident Scheme

The Sick Fund was superseded in 1912 when National Insurance was introduced by the government. However the firm did continue a Sickness and Accident Scheme after this date although the criteria were stringent for receiving benefit.

Learn more about the perks of the job at Huntley & Palmers in the next section.