Providing Care for the Elderly since 1945
Of French descent, Bernhard Baron was born in Brest-Litovsk in Russia in 1850. At 17 he emigrated to America where he gained experience in the tobacco business and started the manufacture of handmade cigarettes. He invented a machine for making cigarettes with a tobacco leaf cover.
In 1895 Bernhard Baron came to England with a greatly refined machine and established the Baron Cigarette Machine Company. Later he joined Carreras as a director, working from an old Victorian shop in Wardour Street, London, where he set about building Carreras into the international company it became.
Bernhard Baron often appeared to have a hard, aggressive manner as a forceful and successful businessman but he had a real and very personal interest in the well being of every one who worked for him. In 1923 when welfare work in factories was little known, he founded a superannuation fund for the workers with a substantial sum of money. In 1929 he opened a convalescent home under his name at Brighton for the workers at Carreras.
The Bernhard Baron Trust gave financial help to a number of hospitals and institutions in the 1930s, including a laboratory at The Royal College of Surgeons of England.
The Quakers received a large grant when they purchased the Homes, and a further one in 1950, when the Main Dining Hall/Kitchen and Corridor were built.
The final sentence of his speech in opening the convalescent home at Brighton sums up the man:- “I have nearly three thousand employees and I consider them my children, and anything I can do for them I will do. I have very faithful people and they all work with all their zeal to do the best they can. There is only one happiness in life, and that is to protect others and to give to others.”
Perhaps his paternalism seems a little old-fashioned now, but his sense of altruism has never left the Homes.