Celebrating the amazing women of the Matthews Cotswold Flour mill this IWD 2021
8th March 2021
Women have been Millers for centuries although not recognised as their trade but more seen as part of their daily chores to make bread and they still mill daily by hand in many countries. From a commercial point of view, it is still a very male-dominated industry, with only a handful of female millers in the UK. Pre the twentieth-century milling was dangerous and very hard work. Physically determined as a male-only role. The long hours interfering in the traditional role of homemaker and mother for women as the Miller would often be expected to work around the clock, which would have interfered with this. Although, women often helped their fathers and husbands in the Mill and knew the trade they were never considered as Millers only referred to as the “Miller’s Wife” or “Miller’s daughter”.
When war broke out and men were required to fight, women filled most of the traditional male roles, including milling and engineering, etc and when it was convenient were considered capable. After the war they were not kept on, allowing Men to go back to work and were sent away to become housewives once again.
Now, Milling is mostly automated, but women are more than capable of pursuing a career even if it is not. Men and Women need to be equally fit and with modern lifting aids, there is no reason that women, if suited and want to, should not be employed in a Mill. I think now the only hindrance is that not many men, never mind women, know that there is still a career to be found in milling and that there is a shortage of qualified Millers.
Here are a few of the amazing women who work a the Matthews Cotswold Flour Mill in Oxfordshire:
Chelle – Apprentice miller
I am known as Chelle and 18 months ago I started a 7 yr. milling apprenticeship with FWP Matthews. I must do 7 modules set out by UK Flour Millers (formerly Nabim) and pass each exam, whilst learning on the job to become qualified. I am really enjoying it and proud to be one of only 3 I believe Female UK Commercial Flour Millers. It is an interesting career; no 2 days are the same. I really cannot see any obstacles for women who want to pursue a career in milling. It is a very male-dominated industry, but I have found everyone to be really accepting and helpful. I think the lack of women in the industry is because no one knows there are jobs to be had. You do need to be fit and healthy, but no more than the guys do. I am really proud of my chosen career as it is an ancient trade as well as leading the way for other women to join.
Ali – Quality Assurance and Product Administrator
My name is Alison (Ali) Tyson-Craddock, and I am the Quality Assurance and Production Administrator at FWP Matthews. I have worked here for 17 months and I am the person who investigates any issues and makes sure that we comply with all of the legal stuff and Food Audits. I moved to the Cotswolds with my wife Michelle, who has started a Milling Apprenticeship at FWP. Matthews make a fabulous product which makes our jobs less difficult and so far, we are loving it. We both love the Countryside, and it is an idyllic setting. Great to come to work in the morning and see all the deer, badgers, etc. Outside of work, we love walking our 2 dogs, we live on a National Trust Estate and it is so pretty. Recently we purchased a telescope, as there is no light pollution where we live, so the night sky is amazing.
Aga – Trainee Baker
My name is Agnieszka “Aga”, and I joined the Matthews family in 2018. I am a woman of many varying talents who’s not afraid to take on any challenge at Matthews. My role at the moment is Trainee Baker which involves test baking with various flours produced by the mill as well as the Operations Support, which means that I am the voice you will hear on the other end of the phone, telling you your order is ready for collection, as well as Bertie’s silent assistant for his Instagram Lives!
I am a mother and wife, and I am passionate about photography, baking and furniture makeovers.
Emily – Administration Manager
I have been at Matthews Cotswold Flour for nearly four years, having joined the team shortly after moving to the area. I originally came in to help support the Accounts team and within 6 months I moved to help support what was the Sales Order Processing team. In September 2020 I was promoted to Administration Manger. My main responsibilities are overseeing the Business Administration team, who are on the front line speaking to our customers day in, day out, overseeing our credit control function – ensuring our customers are paying on time etc, running the office and supporting our Directors.
No two days at Matthews are the same and I enjoy the new challenges that crop up every day. Not one to blow my own trumpet, but if you were to cut me in half I would probably have Matthews running through my blood!! I am excited about the future here at Matthews.
As well as celebrating the amazing women who work at the mill, we also want to celebrate the amazing women bakers we have in our Cotswold Flour baking community. We love hearing your stories, seeing your photographs and trying your delicious recipes!