Westwood Works 1903-2003
This website began in September 2003, as a private collection of photographs of the demolition of the Baker Perkins multi-storey office blocks in Westfield Road. That it is now something of a historical record of the development over nearly one hundred years, of a major international engineering enterprise is thanks primarily to the enthusiasm and support of a very large number of the ex-employees of Westwood Works.
It sets out to tell the story of Westwood Works from its beginnings in December 1903 to its closure in early 1993 and subsequent demolition in 2003 to make way for HMP Peterborough. It concentrates on the people who were employed there – how they worked and played – and attempts to show why most ex-employees still consider that they belong to a very unique "family".
There can be no doubt that Baker Perkins was a "family" firm as is usually understood by the term – a long succession of members of the Perkins and Baker families contributed significantly to the growth and prosperity of the company over time. However, the company is perhaps unique in the depth of loyalty and affection in which it was, and still is, held by its employees.
There are many parts of the story that are not covered here. We do not follow in any detail the development of the huge range of products made at Westwood – a sample is shown on the Welcome Page and more are illustrated in The Product Line. Nor is this an up-date of Augustus Muir’s book "The History of Baker Perkins" (See Where to find more Information in the "Appendix"), as we do not describe the development of the rest of the Baker Perkins group and its subsidiaries around the World. Little mention is made of the vast list of Baker Perkins’ customers in all countries and the contribution that the company made to helping to provide high quality, affordable food products to consumers of all nations. However, the origins and growth of the whole group, together with an insight into the development of the machinery and processes on which this was based, are covered in our sister website - The Baker Perkins Historical Society.
Despite our early intention to confine our work to describing events associated with Westwood Works, it has proved enlightening to dip into the early history of the Perkins and Baker businesses in order to put the development of Westwood, its business approach and the origins of its culture into context. Some of this information appears in the Appendix and elsewhere as preambles to several of the key sections of the Website.
It is clear that Westwood Works changed the lives of many hundreds of people, mainly we believe for the better. Perhaps we can hope that what is coming after – HMP Peterborough – will also have, in its way, as positive an effect on the lives of the future generations who pass through it.
This then is our tribute to old friends and generations of work colleagues, known and unknown, who helped create the world-famous entity that existed in Westfield Road, Peterborough and which still exists, in a different form under another generation of Baker Perkins-trained engineers, in APV Baker, Paston. We hope that perhaps future generations will look at this record and appreciate the importance of Westwood Works to the growth and prosperity of Peterborough as a whole. If we have been able to reflect something of the character of the Company and those who served it, then this has been achieved because of that very uniqueness – the enthusiastic pooling of effort to a common end by a cross section of ex-employees in a similar way to which they carried out their work at Westwood.
It might seem invidious to identify anyone in particular from the hundreds of people who have provided photographs, material and memories to this website – some are recognised in the Credits section and we apologise that we have been unable to cover every contributor. However, we cannot close without recognising the enormous contribution of Bert Slater, one time Foreman of the Experimental Department, without whose efforts much archive material would have been lost; Les Sharp, whose enthusiasm for Baker Perkins remains undiminished and who is still championing the cause; Jim Farrow, whose range of jobs at Westwood over a long career provided a fund of knowledge that he has been only too ready for us to plunder, and last, and by no means least, our personal Angel, Gabrielle, whose good sense and objectivity have contributed greatly to the quality of our coverage.
To the above and to all ex-employees we send our heartfelt thanks and best wishes.
Dick, Margaret and James Preston, March 2006
For those of you who wish to learn more about the development of the Baker Perkins Group, from the early days of the founders to the aftermath of the merger with APV, please visit our sister website, The Baker Perkins Historical Society. This follows the histories of the ca. 130 associated and subsidiary companies that were at one time part of the Group. The website also covers aspects of process and machinery development, how the company served its key businesses, and how it developed its presence in key geographical markets around the world.
When designing this website, we began with the deliberate intention of making it as simple to navigate as possible. Therefore the site has been designed with simplicity of use in mind and to ensure that the pages load as quickly as possible on a dial-up (56k) connection. We have optimised the photographs for web use, which is why some may appear grainy. Much of the content on the website has been scanned in from newspapers and faded, ageing photographs. Whilst it is possible to work wonders with modern graphics software, sometimes the source material was in rather a poor condition.
The site was designed to be viewed at 800 x 600 resolution. A higher resolution would have been preferred but this would have caused problems for those with older computers or poorer eyesight.
We realise that visitors to the website can be annoyed or offended by some of the advertisements in the Guestbook and Forum. As with life in general, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and the people who host the Guestbook and Forum for free have to make a living too. If the pop-up windows or advertisements which appear become an annoyance to you, please contact the Webmaster.
We did not set out to impress the user with spinning graphics and animations, just to rekindle memories in those who have been involved with Baker Perkins at some point in their lives.
The Website is perhaps unusual in the quantity of text it contains. It can be viewed on two levels – as a collection of the memories of many ex-employees, primarily in photographic form – and as a means of gathering as much relevant historical material together in one place as possible. Both aims were considered equally important. Meeting these distinctly different objectives has created some problems of access and site navigation. We hope that you will forgive this.
The site is written using Adobe Dreamweaver. E2E Solutions host the website and we use Filezilla to upload the web pages to our webspace.
All content © the Website Authors unless stated otherwise.