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Westwood Works 1903-2003


Policing the Site

The policing of a complex manufacturing site of some 40 acres makes great demands on any Security operation. Continual expansion of facilities, commercial pressures and a changing social environment meant that the security methods used at Westwood changed significantly over the nearly 100 years of its existence. Although it is not known just what security arrangements were put in place at the time that Werner, Pfleiderer & Perkins built Westwood Works in 1904, it is evident that the site would, from the first, have been "protected" and "controlled" in some way.

Early photographs give no clue as to how entry to the site was controlled but for many years, and certainly from the 1940's, the main Security Post was just a small building at the front and to the east side of the main entrance to the factory. From this, control of vehicles in and out of the factory was maintained. Arguably somewhat inconvenient for the Security Patrolmen, as they had to leave the "office" to speak to the drivers of incoming/outgoing vehicles in all weather conditions, this "post" remained in use until the 1975 Office Block was erected.

Before the 1975 office block was built, the main office entrance and Reception Area, close to Westwood Bridge, served as the main security control centre and was staffed at all times - during the normal working day by a commissionaire/receptionist and, at all other times, by a Security Patrolman. This was essential as it also housed fire alarm indicators, lift alarms and other security devices. Whenever patrols of the factory and offices were being carried out, a Security Patrolman was always on duty at the Reception desk.

When the 1975 building was built, the directors garage, the security office and other buildings in this general area, were demolished. A temporary security post was built further down the factory yard and this was used until such time as it was possible to complete a new "Works Entrance". The demolition work created a much wider entrance to the factory, in the centre of which a specially designed security post was built. Vehicles were able to pass either side of this on their way in and out of the factory, making it much more convenient for Security Patrolmen to carry out their duties.

The building was a completely self-contained unit, with its own toilets and kitchen facilities. It housed a completely new fire alarm control panel together with all other site safety and security systems, including passenger lift emergency phones, and alarms associated with the air conditioning systems and other special alarms. This then became the new main control centre for Security and as such was manned at all times throughout the year. The old Reception area entrance was bricked up and converted into office space.

A new, more spacious Reception area was created in the 1975 building where a receptionist welcomed visitors and customers to the company. Security Patrolmen did however assist in this area and would relieve the receptionist at tea and lunch breaks and be present until the building and outer doors were secured at the end of the working day. Special security devices were housed in this area for use only in extreme emergencies.

The Telephone System

Prior to 1975, when the company's telephone exchange closed down at the end of the working day, the "outside lines" were switched through to the Reception (known at that time as the Enquiry Office). The last operator would secure the exchange and hand the keys to the Receptionist and the outside line was checked to confirm that it was working satisfactorily. From this point responsibility for outside calls became that of the Security Department until such time as the telephone operators took over on the next working day, making it essential that someone was always present in Reception. This arrangement continued when the 1975 building was completed but instead of the lines being switched through to the Reception they were switched to the new Works Entrance Security Post.

The eventual introduction of a new telephone system meant that individuals throughout the company were able to receive outside calls direct to their own phones. Closure of the "traditional" telephone exchange followed.

During the normal working day, calls to the main Company number were received by the Receptionist and transferred as necessary. The volume of these was considerably less as many callers could now ring direct to an individual employee's telephone. External calls were still received outside of normal working hours of course and these were dealt with by the Works Entrance Security Post - the lines automatically switching through at 6.00pm, switching back at 8.00am the next morning.

If an internal emergency call was received whilst the Receptionist/Security Patrolman was taking an incoming call this had to be immediately curtailed (with a quick explanation to the caller - "we have an emergency please call back") in order for the emergency procedure to be implemented.


Company security was provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the year with Security Personnel on duty on Bank Holidays, Christmas and all other holidays. The security team comprised of a Security Manager, Sergeant, Senior Patrolman and around twelve Security Patrolmen. A three shift system was used to cover the full 24 hour day - 6am to 2pm; 2pm to 10pm and 10pm to 6am, with two men on duty per shift.

As well as organizing weekly rosters and duties, the Sergeant and Senior Patrolman would deal with any security-related incidents that arose. The Sergeant and all Patrolmen were provided with a distinctive uniform that was worn on all occasions whilst at work. In the summer months "shirt sleeve order" was permitted.

Security Activities

The work of Security Patrolmen was quite extensive and in some instances had to be carried out at very precise times - for example the opening of gates and doors to enable employees to enter and leave the factory and offices at starting and finishing times.

In the days before wages and salaries were paid direct into employees' bank accounts, another very special responsibility was the weekly delivery to the Cashiers, of a large amount of cash. (See photograph in Life at Westwood Works) Very strict security controls were put in place and the movement of people in the delivery area was restricted. Security controls were also put in place on Pay Day when made-up pay packets were delivered from the Cashiers to the paying out points in the factory. Night Shift employees received their pay from the Night Shift Foreman who was authorized to have access to the Cashiers safe. He was escorted by a Security Patrolman who would also assist with the pay out procedure in the factory.

Vehicles arrived at the factory throughout the day and often during the night. All vehicles arriving at the factory had their Registration Number, Company name and the time of entry and departure entered in a register, thus providing a record of the vehicle's length of stay at the factory and the area it had visited.

Keys to the all departments in both the office and factory areas were held in the Security Post and all had to be returned at the end of the working day. For obvious security reasons, access to the keys to a number of departments (Cashiers and Wages for example) were restricted to named personnel only and had to be signed for on each occasion.

Pass Outs issued to employees, who had been authorized by their line manager to leave the premises, were checked as were pass outs for any materials purchased from the company by employees. Security also provided a "Lost and Found" service to employees with many items identified and returned to their owners. Items not claimed after a period of 3 months were offered back to the "finder".

Internal 999 calls from employees were also received at the Works Entrance Security Post. The Patrolman on duty would assess all relevant information and then initiate a strict set procedure for calling in the company Fire Brigade members and the County emergency services.

Security Patrols

Regular patrolling of the premises was extremely important and on many occasions the actions and alertness of Patrolmen averted what could have turned into serious problems. Where any incidents that involved fire or flooding were discovered, the company Fire Brigade was called in and also the County Brigade. High winds and heavy rain were generally a cause for concern and on many occasions Security called in the company Brigade to deal with flooding or damage to roofs.

During the day, periodic patrols of car parks and the outer areas of the site took place. Regularly occupied offices and works areas were visited only outside normal working hours.

Security patrols of all buildings were carried out throughout the night and weekends and comprehensive records were maintained of the times and areas visited. Each Patrolman would carry with him a special clock that was used to record his visits to the areas on his particular patrol. "Clocking Points" were fitted at specific points around the site and within its many buildings. These had a special key with it own unique number. On arrival at one of these points the Security Patrolman would insert the key in the clock he was carrying and turn this to record his presence. This produced a record, on paper tape, of the patrolman's route, the areas he had visited and the times at which he was there. These were checked and examined the next morning by the Security Sergeant who held a separate record of the key numbers and locations. The tapes were pasted in record books and maintained for any future reference. Any noteworthy events occurring on a patrol were recorded in the Security Register. The next morning this was examined by the Sergeant and any matters that required attention dealt with. Should the Patrolman consider that immediate action was required, this was taken and again recorded in the register.

The Patrolmen would vary their patrolling routes to ensure that no pattern was obvious but equally to ensure that the whole site was covered and protected. Patrols were carried out irrespective of the weather conditions. It was not always pleasant, particularly so at night. Some of the remoter areas of the site could appear quite daunting with just a torch for company. A Patrolman would "ring in" at different times during his patrol to tell the Patrolman back in the Security Post exactly where he was and where he planned to go next. One side effect of regular night patrols was that, until such time as rechargeable batteries became available, The company had to keep a surprisingly substantial stock of batteries.

Patrolmen also carried a "bleep" that could be triggered if the Security Post needed to make contact with them. One problem experienced was that on receiving the signal the Patrolman then had to get to the nearest internal telephone to ring into the Security Post. This could result in some delay in making contact.

Eventually, to overcome any problems of communication, Two Way radios were introduced. These provided a secure and immediate line of contact between Security staff at any time throughout every patrol.

As time progressed, new buildings were erected and factory areas altered to meet new business and production requirements. These included the Holdings Company building, Elliott Buildings - temporary offices that were used from time to time around the factory area - and the 1975 multi-storey Office building. This inevitably meant that changes to Patrolmen's duties had to be absorbed within their normal working day schedules. Each created its own security problems and, as an absolute minimum, each had to be regularly patrolled and checked.

Developments in Security Techniques

As security techniques developed, the company took the view - in about 1979 - that the introduction of Closed Circuit Television should be considered to help protect the premises, the employees and their belongings. All the unions represented at Westwood were consulted and, after discussion on the locations and type of cameras to be used, agreement was reached on their installation.

Six cameras were installed at external strategic points around the premises and these were monitored on a bank of television screens in the Security Post. A combination of fixed cameras and some with pan, tilt and zoom facilities were installed. Patrolmen were able to focus on any area under observation and zoom in to take a closer look. All cameras had an infra-red facility to improve night vision.

Where a camera was monitoring a site entry/exit point, an audio facility was also incorporated. This enabled a conversation to be held between the Security Patrolman and the person wishing to enter or leave the premises.

As the company took on other work, reorganization of production facilities was necessary and factory units at Woodston and Bretton were rented. These also had to be patrolled throughout the night and at weekends, these duties again being absorbed into the Patrolman's duties. A Pool Car was made available to them in which to make the necessary journeys to and from these "off site" production units.

In the mid 1980's it became necessary for the company to reduce its total workforce. In consequence the Security staff was reduced very significantly, creating a situation where only one man could be present on each shift and reliance on the CCT cameras for site security increased. Patrolling of the premises, especially throughout the night and at weekends, now presented new problems and it was paramount that adequate protection was provided for the Security Patrolman. A special timer was installed in the Security Post linked to the homes of the Security Manager and Security Sergeant. If the patrolman did not return within the time set for his patrol an alarm would sound at their homes and they would go immediately to the factory to determine if the Security Patrolman was safe and well and what the problem was. Although the alarms did sound on a number of occasions there was never a situation where a Patrolman was unwell or injured. In most cases they had been delayed on their patrol and had not returned to the post within the prescribed time.

Security Patrolmen were dedicated to their work and gave a tremendous service to the company. They were all trusted members of the organization and had authorization to go anywhere and any place within the business. They had master keys and access to every part of the buildings. They respected this trust and responsibility placed in them and the company held them in high esteem. Their dedication to their work was greatly appreciated, especially so when everyone else was at home or on holiday.

The End

After the closure of the factory at the end of 1992, and the responsibility for the site was transferred to Interserve and the Prison Authorities, the buildings and land deteriorated very quickly. Planted areas and wasteland became overgrown and the buildings fronting Westfield Road vandalized and windows broken. The windows and doors were boarded up to prevent any further damage but these were then quickly covered in graffiti.

After such a glorious history the once prestigious Baker Perkins buildings looked in a very sad and sorry state. (See Awaiting the Developers). Site security at that time was the responsibility of Interserve and the Prison Authorities who maintained a presence on site right up to the time that all the buildings were demolished in 2003.

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