W H Munsey Ltd
Business Address: W H Munsey Ltd, Wessex Mill, Mill Street, Wantage OX12 9AB
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About W H Munsey Ltd
The Munsey family has been milling for four generations in Oxfordshire.
It all started when William Henry Munsey came to Oxford in 1895. His farming business in Cambridge was devastated by foot and mouth. He took a job with Pratt & Haines as forage manager, then in 1898 he went into partenership with Archer Cowley and took over Osney Mill. The partnership did not last long and the business became W.H. Munsey (Ltd in 1911). He had two sons. Ellis who carried on the flour milling side and Keith who traded as a corn merchant. The great war came and the two sons served in the army, after the war life they settled down again. Then in 1927 Christ church delivered an ultimatum, that you purchased the land or get out. The money was borrowed from the bank and the next year William Henry died.
The next few years seem to be trouble free then the second world war was declared and as the big mills at London, Southampton, Liverpool and Hull were destroyed by enemy bombs, it put pressure on the small mills for extra production. The mill at Osney ran for 24 hours a day, week in week out. The war ended and free trade came back to the milling industry. Disaster struck again - the mill was destroyed by fire in 1945.
At the time the small town and village bakeries where closing as mass production of sliced bread was taking over. Osney mill was dedicated to bread flour and it was decided not to rebuild at Osney Mill but buy Mr Clarks Flour mill at Wantage which was an all biscuit flour mill.
The next generation were now working in the mill. Dick , Ellis's son and Bill, Keith's son. Dick was killed in a car accident and his father died a few years later. That left Bill to run the mill at Wantage.
The mill at Wantage had three customers then Serples Biscuits, Huntley and Palmers (biscuit makers) and C&T Harris (pie makers). A few alterations were made to the mill so that it could make bread flour as well to supply customers around Oxford. They had been buying flour from other mills for the two years between the fire and buying the mill at Wantage.
Over the next decades the mill supplied companies like Cadbury's, Farleys, Mars, United Biscuits and the Co-op.
Now the mill supplies only small craft bakers. Supermarkets have meant that to survive companies have to be bigger and bigger. We only have one mill, so couldn't deliver flour to the large companies who now have multiple sites all over the UK.
Now the mill is run by Bill (WH's grandson) and Paul (WH's great grandson).