Webpage created: August 26, 2019
Webpage updated: January 01, 2020
THOMAS BAKER (1859-1926)
Thomas Baker was born at North Molton, Devon, in 1859.
At the time of the 1881 census Mr Thomas Baker was a drapery assistant lodging with Mrs Elizabeth Davis at number 7 Bayswater Terrace in Albert Road, Plymouth. It is not known who he was working for at that time but it has always been stated that he came to Plymouth in 1881 to join Mr Edward Dingle (1840-1928) as a partner. That storey may not be entirely correct.
What is certain, though, is that in 1885 he married Mr Dingle's niece, Miss Rebecca Dingle, who was working for her uncle as a drapery assistant and living over the shop. However, one can only speculate at the moment as to why they travelled all the way up to north Devon to get married when her family lived at Linkinhorne, near Callington, in Cornwall. He certainly joined Edward in running the business after that.
In 1909 he entered the Plymouth Town Council as a councillor for the Laira Ward.
Mr Thomas Baker was chosen as Mayor of Plymouth in 1914, 1915 and 1916 and was thus at the helm during the very difficult years of the amalgamation with Stonehouse and Devonport and for the visit of Their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary in 1915. He was invited to remain in office for a fourth term but declined the invitation on medical advice. Instead he elected an Alderman, in succession to Sir Charles Radford, and became chairman of Tramways Committee. In October 1919 he was made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough.
During his lifetime he was vice chairman of the Plymouth Liberal Association and for three years was chairman of the Saint Andrew's Ward Liberal Association. He became the first chairman of the Local Employment Committee and served again after the death of Mr R Priest. In 1905 he was elected chairman of the Plymouth Incorporated Mercantile Association.
He became the first member from Plymouth to be elected to the Executive Council of the National Chamber of Trade and during his year in office he organised a fund for re-equipping the clubroom of the 2nd Devonshire Volunteers.
Mr Thomas Baker was awarded the honour of Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1920.
Sir Thomas Baker died at his residence, The Crossways, Yelverton, during the afternoon of Friday December 17th 1926. He was 66 years of age.
One of his sons, Mr Harold Baker, died in 1934 but the two others, Mr John Russell Baker and Mr John Jeffery Baker, remained shareholders in Messrs E Dingle and Company Limited in to the 1950s.