Tom Baker social entrepreneur

Why a baker?

An important part of the MRL ethos is learning by doing.  In a simple sense,  all museums are social enterprises; enterprises of the society they reflect, and perhaps aim to change. We are, however, much more used to speaking of museums as organisations or institutions, implying a degree of permanence aligned to their long term purpose. Enterprise suggests something less certain, more fluid.  Yet, in a period when public finance for museums is reducing across the world museum futures are less certain; they require enterprise-like agility to prosper.

Social Enterprise

The response from MRL to this is to help participants learn about social enterprise. A primary reason that the Programme is based at the Black Country Living Museum is that it meets all of its revenue costs from trading; it runs as a cultural business, a practical, successful example of a social enterprise. Whilst the idea of museums as social enterprises may sound attractive, they are difficult to run, requiring a continual balance between the social purpose of the organisation and the need to generate surpluses. Traditional profit generating businesses which are successful have a single focus, to make a profit: social businesses can be more complex.

MRL looks at money making in a social context from a number of angles and the hands-on session at Loaf is part of the Enterprise in Action day which is Workshop 2 in the Programme. Participants can work in the Loaf bakery for a morning or in the Hobbs and Sons Fish and Chip shop at the Museum. In both sessions they learn more about the real-world challenges and rewards of running a social enterprise.


As a food-based social enterprise, Loaf aims:

“To promote real food and healthy living in Birmingham, and build community through food ”.
"This means bringing forgotten food skills and real food back to our kitchens through our cookery courses, community bakery, and pop-up events, and helping to restore our local high street at the same time. Any profit made through these projects is directed towards furthering Loaf’s social objectives. Loaf believes everyone has the right to eat real food. Check out what we mean in our Real Food Manifesto.
Loaf originated in August 2009 as a community supported bakery run from the south Birmingham home of Director, Tom Baker and his wife Jane. Originally baking for neighbours once a week using a wood-fired oven in his garden, Tom went on to teach forgotten food skills from his home kitchen marking the beginnings of the Loaf Cookery School.
Bringing Real Food to the High Street – Today, Loaf has a successful cookery school and full time bakery on Stirchley high street in Birmingham, launching in September 2012 with fantastic support from the local community, a growing national reputation, and an ever expanding and dedicated staff team......"

Loaf is a registered company (limited by guarantee) – no. 6990165

This is a film about Loaf made in 2014 by Paul McHale of Old Dead Eye Film:

the Loaf Team

Loaf currently has six members of staff, three of whom are also directors. They run Loaf together as a workers’ co-operative, working with a range of freelance and volunteer professionals for their time, skills and support, including guest cookery school tutors and assistants, Loaf directors, designers, illustrators, carpenters and website gurus. Loaf also has the support of an advisory board.

The staff team are:

  • Tom Baker – Baker and Cookery School Tutor
  • Sarah Frost – Baker
  • Rob Drew – Trainee Baker
  • Nancy Langfeldt – Administrator
  • Jordan Isherwood – Shop & Cookery School Assistant
  • Martha Needham – Shop & Cookery School Assistant

As Tom Baker said "Social Enterprise is great but without enterprise there is no social".