Tribute to founder of meat packing firm

Roger Baker
Roger Baker

One of the founders of Midland Meat Packers and Butcher’s Pet Care has died.

One of the quartet of the well-known Baker Boys – with brothers John, Graham and Edwin – Roger Baker died after a long illness on Sunday at the age of 73.

He was born in Lutterworth and was bought up on the family farm at Onley, run by his parents Fred and Alice.

When Fred Baker died in 1962, Roger was the only brother aged over 21 and legally able to run the business; so from 1963 onwards, Roger ran FW Baker Ltd Wholesale.

The business flourished and a new boning plant opened at Crick in 1970, serving the likes of Birdseye, Tyne Brand, Sainsbury’s and McDonald’s.

In 1971, the business changed its name to Midland Meat Packers, with Roger as Procurement Director. Quickly outgrowing those facilities, a new slaughterhouse was established at Crick in 1980, becoming the largest beef slaughtering plant in Europe with 4,000 cattle passing through its doors every week for export to France, Italy and Germany, including all US troops based in Europe.

At its peak, Midland Meat Packers had a turnover of £150 million, exported £1 million in meat every week and employed more than 1,200 people.

Midland Meat Packers finally closed in 2003 – Roger retiring but still farming around 1,000 cattle, regularly judging at shows as well as retaining his passion for game shooting at an estate in Ashby St Ledgers and other estates around the country.

He was asked to record his memories and anecdotes of market day for the archive at The British Museum.

He is survived by his wife Gillian Hargrave, whom he married in 1965, and their daughter Zoe.