Westwood Works 1903-2003
The strong "Family" feeling engendered at Westwood is alive and well. This is illustrated by the continuing steady flow of memories and memorabilia for inclusion on this Website, a decade after we started work. Many local hostelries are the venue for informal gatherings of ex-employees, particularly on Friday lunchtimes and reminiscences are exchanged in impromptu sessions in Peterborough's coffee shops on a daily basis. Ex-Rugby Club members meet regularly to re-live old games and social events over a pint (or two) and another WWRUFC Annual Dinner took place in October 2004. Even more memories are swapped at the weekly meeting of the Retired Members Club on Wednesday afternoons in the New England Club - see also here.
A number of events to celebrate 100 years of activity at Westwood were held in 2004 and some are illustrated below. All were well attended and resulted in an even heavier flow of material into the Website.
Since the formation of the Baker Perkins Historical Society in 2004, the key social event has been the Biennial Reunion held in the Parkway Club, Peterborough. Regularly attracting well over 200 ex-employees and their partners, the event sticks to its simple but tried and trusted recipe of a bar, some food and plenty of space to facilitate circulation. The next BPHS Reunion is planned for early 2014 (a gap of only 18 months between events) as the organising Committee consider it sensible to recognise the potential accelerating effect of anno domini on attendance.
The first "Reunion" was held on 3rd December 1993, almost a year after Westwood Works closed, and was organised by Dorothy & Trevor Edwards, Jean & Dave Stonebridge, Jim Deboo, Horace Phillips, Brenda Green and Bert Slater. This was followed by the memorial gathering for Sir Ivor Baker following his death in January 1994, held in the main hall at Peterborough Technical College on 20th February 1994 and particularly well attended.
Sir Ivor was unable to attend the December 1993 Reunion but sent a personal message:
“I am very sorry that I can’t be with you tonight but I am afraid old age has caught up with me very fast at the age of 85 and I am not fit enough to come.
I think that the organisers of the gathering tonight have done a marvellous job in getting together so many members of the ex-Baker Perkins family, as I like to think of you all, and I am sure that you will have a lovely nostalgic evening. Perhaps it can become an annual fixture for the future.
I think that between us we built up a wonderful company and I am proud to have been part of it. Thank you all for the splendid co-operation you gave me.
I am bitterly disappointed not to be with you tonight but please drink a toast with me to Baker Perkins and the good old days.
Ivor Baker 3rd December 1993”
We would like to hear of any other "reunions" and copies of formal, or informal, photographs for inclusion on these pages would be gratefully received.
Here are a selection of photos from the October 2002 Westwood Works Rugby Club reunion.
|Mac McCulloch & Tony Belson||John Smith & Mac McCulloch||Peter Brodie, Brian Prentice, Ray Measures & Howard Pettit||Colin Young & Colin Nichols||Mike Herring, Howard Pettit & Andy Duffus||Derek Westwood, John Porter, Brian Prentice & Alan Beales||Lionel Brewster, Mick Ward, TBC, Rex Login & Mike Corrigan|
A number of events to celebrate 100 years of activity at Westwood have been held in 2004 and some are illustrated below. All were well attended and resulted in an even heavier flow of material into the Website.
The first in a series of Baker Perkins Coffee Mornings was held at Peterborough Museum om April 29th 2004. Ex-employees were invited to identify old photographs and to record some of their memories of their time at Westwood Works.
2004: First meeting at Peterborough Museum (April 29th)
The second "Coffee Morning" was held on July 21st. and more memories were collected. These were used as the theme for "The Baker Perkins Exhibition" held at Peterborough Museum over the weekend of 4th/5th September 2004. Memorabilia and photographs from the earliest days of both WP&P and Baker Perkins created a background against which a steady stream of visitors exchanged reminiscences of their lives at Westwood.
Perhaps the highlight of the first day was the presence on the front lawn of the Museum, of a 25-Pdr Field Gun, one of the 2,200 made at Westwood during World War 2 (see Westwood Works in WW2). The members of the Territorial Army who had transported it from their Depot in Nottingham were particularly fascinated to discuss its features with two of the men who had made it - Bert Slater and Jim Deboo.
As Peterborough Museum has a large archive of Baker Perkins material, much of which has yet to be shown in public, it is hoped that this Exhibition will be the first of many. Much of the credit for the availability of this material must go to Bert Slater who has spent many years painstakingly identifying and cataloguing the thousands of photographs and negatives in the Archive.
09/09/04: Local Press Coverage of Museum Exhibition
|Family Open Day Leaflet||The old Baker Perkins flag flies again|
A key event in the 100 Year Celebrations took place at the APV Baker factory at Paston on Sunday 12th September 2004. Existing and past-employees compared working experiences at a Family Open Day, a key feature of which was a "Heritage Display" with one input being this website. Also shown was a draft of "The Westwood Works Roll-call", a list of 10,000 people who have worked on the site between 1904 and 1992. The finished version can be seen here.
What was, effectively, the 50th Reunion Dinner of the Club as given its new lease of life by the 1953/54 Apprentice intakes, took place at the Great Northern Hotel on 29/10/2004. These are just some of the many photographs taken on that occasion.
Another Reunion was held at the Parkway Club, Maskew Avenue, Peterborough on 28th April 2006. Despite it being 14 years after the closure of Westwood Works, 375 ex-employees and their partners attended.
It was not planned but it was a happy coincidence that the Reunion was held in the same month that the old company reverted to its original name of "Baker Perkins" - APV Baker having been acquired by private investors John Cowx and Brian Taylor.
We are grateful to Fred Davis for the photograph of Lizzy and Elisabeth from the Archives Services Section of Peterborough Library who are helping to create the official Baker Perkins Archive
The Society's second publication - "A Hundred Years of Baker Perkins at Westwood Works 1903 - 2003", compiled by Rita McKenzie and based on her successful series of local "slide shows", was launched at Peterborough Museum on Wednesday 28th November 2007.
A Reunion to commemorate the Great Trek from Willesden to Peterborough in
1933 when employees of the original Joseph Baker & Sons joined their new
colleagues from Perkins Engineers as part of the recently formed Baker Perkins.
For a selection of photographs taken at the event held at the Parkway Club,
Peterborough on Friday 3rd October 2008, click here.
A Local History Fair was held in the grounds of Peterborough Cathedral on 27th June as part of the City's Heritage Festival. BPHS was asked to join other Local History Societies with a stall showing something of its activities. Many ex-employees stopped by to reminisce and examine the latest BPHS publications.
The stall was put together by Gabrielle Abbott (pictured) - BPHS Committee Secretary - with design input from Roger Coulthard. Carol Abell - BPHS Events Manager - oversaw BPHS's involvement in the event.
Held once again in the Cathedral Precincts, the theme of the event was - "Peterborough at War". The BPHS stall featured photographs of activity at Westwood during the two World Wars.
The Fun Day was held on the site of the old Baker Perkins Sportsground, now developed as "Century Square". The photographic display - inevitably depicting sports activities over the years at Alma Road - was put together by Rita McKenzie and Jim Farrow.
BPHS attended the Itter Park Fun Day showing a photographic display put together by Rita McKenzie featuring F.C. Ihlee who lived in Paston Hall which was sited close to Itter Park. A local road is named after him.
A Reunion to commemorate the Centenary of the founding of the Baker Perkins Sports & Social Club was attended by approximately 230 ex- and current employees and their partners. For a selection of photographs taken at the event held at the Parkway Club, Peterborough on Friday 8th October 2010, click here.
|Baker Perkins Historical Society joined with Perkins Engines and Hanson Brick, under the leadership of Peterborough Museum, to put on an Industrial Heritage exhibition in St John’s Church in Peterborough city centre on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 May.|
It was one of the “Museum on Tour” activities during 2011, whilst the museum itself is closed for major restoration and refurbishment. Its purposes were:
|The Organising Committee||Background Display||The BPHS Display|
BPHS displayed a few familiar “then” and “now” images, plus some new material – “A Miscellany of Baker Perkins’ Bits and Pieces”, a collection of photographs put together by committee member John Burnham, which will also form the basis of a “virtual book” on www.bphs.net Although many of the “bits and pieces” featured in these photographs are owned by individuals or are in museum collections, some of the smaller and easily available ones were on display during the exhibition.
Three ex-Apprentices from the 1954/55 intakes met up again for what will probably the last occasion to reminisce about old times. John Gilbert, Alan "Nobby" Clarke and Alan Cuthbert Joined Baker Perkins from Lincoln Road Boys School and have since scattered to (almost) the four corners of the world - John to Wales, "Nobby" to Australia and Alan to Spain.
|The Three meet up.||Outside the Apprentice School.||John Gilbert hands over his collection of Apprentice Test Pieces to BPHS.|
John Gilbert handed over his collection of Apprentice Test Pieces to BPHS for safe-keeping and commented - "How on earth was it possible for all of us apprentices, regardless of background , to make things of this complexity in such a short time from a standing start? The training that we received must have been exceptional". It would appear that John's mother was also impressed as, without John's knowledge, she secreted them in the loft of the family home, where John found them only after his mother had passed away.
|Again held in the grounds of Peterborough Cathedral surrounded by hordes of re-enactment players, the theme of this year's History Fair was "Key People and Events in Peterborough's History". The BPHS stand featured - the Founders and the Last Family Members in charge -The Great Fire of 1922 - The Train Crash of 1955 - Baker Perkins' Effect on Local Housing. As usual, there was much reminiscing with old friends and new acquaintances.|
|BPHS again attended the Itter Park Fun Day in 2011, showing a photographic display featuring Paston and Walton put together by Rita McKenzie and a repeat of BPHS's display from the Peterborough Local History Fair in June 2011 (see above).|
The Freedom of the City of Peterborough was awarded to Dick Preston, President of the Baker Perkins Historical Society at a ceremony held in Cathedral Square, Peterborough on 8th September 2012. Also honoured on the same occasion were Father David Jennings and Her Majesty's Coroner for Peterborough, Mr Gordon Ryall.
The Society's 4th Biennial Reunion was held at the Parkway Club, Peterborough on Friday 5th October 2012 and attended by approximately 230 ex- and current employees and their partners. Among the guests were Mary Jo Darrah (Sir Ivor Baker's daughter) and the Mayor and Mayoress of Peterborough. A number of displays featured company memorabilia, together with photographs of the Apprentice School and apprentices from the '50s and '60s. For a selection of photographs taken at the event, click here.
The Mayor - Councillor George Simons - informed us that his wife, Sylvia, is an ex-Baker Perkins employee, who joined the Company straight from school in the early 1950s to be trained as a comptometer operator. We understand that, true to long established Company tradition, both her sister and father worked at Westwood. Two days before they were to be married, George was waiting for Sylvia on Westwood Bridge when he witnessed the "The Westwood Junction Rail Crash of 1955."
The Society's 5th Biennial Reunion was held at the Parkway Club, Peterborough on Friday 4th April 2014. For a selection of photographs taken at the event, click here.
The Society's 6th Biennial Reunion was held at the Parkway Club, Peterborough on Friday 25th September 2015. For a selection of photographs taken at the event, click here.
All content © the Website Authors unless stated otherwise.