Westwood Works 1903-2003
Long before the creation of Baker Perkins in 1933, the publicity function was seen as an important part of the constituent companies’ activities. The Foreword to the "Baker Perkins at the British Empire Exhibition" brochure of 1925 states:
"Our tale of co-operation in the great exhibitions of the world goes back for over 40 years. Small when our business was small, our exhibits have grown as we have done, and many of our friends will remember the record of progress shown from the 'Healtheries' of 1882, through Paris, Chicago, Paris again, and St. Louis, to those London exhibitions which immediately preceded the war".
(See also Trade Exhibitions).
Examples of early publicity material can be seen in Documentation.
Frank Fuller, who retired in 1958 as Baker Perkins advertising manager, first organised an exhibition stand for Baker Perkins in 1929. Frank was retained after his retirement in 1958 as a consultant and was still working on seven exhibitions in 1966. Harry Giltrap took over as advertising manager from Frank in 1958.
|1966: Frank Fuller and Harry Giltrap in discussion|
Clive Read joined Baker Perkins in 1962 and remembers the publicity department as being on the top of the 1933 multi-storey building in a kind of penthouse. The photographic department, part of the advertising department, was opposite the ground floor lifts. The publicity dept outgrew this location a couple of years before the new Holdings Company offices were built in 1966 and were moved off site above a car showroom opposite the end of Taverners Road in Lincoln Road. The photographic section stayed where it was. They were amalgamated when the Holdings Company building was finished.
With the formation of the Holdings Company in 1963, the Publicity Department had a co-ordinating and service role across the Group, although companies were able to source some of their publicity material locally where appropriate. The key activities of the department were:
Press Releases, AGMS and Conferences
Baker Perkins, as a Limited Liability Company was obliged by law to hold an Annual General Meeting and also Extraordinary Meetings as required. Connected with these was a flurry of paperwork – advertising covering the timing and venue for the meeting; press releases giving details of the company’s results and any other changes in the company’s circumstances as required by Company Law, etc., etc. Arrangements had to be made for press conferences – those associated with major exhibitions as well as when announcements about the company’s business or significant changes in its structure were to be announced. Copies of presentations and audio-visual materials were needed for these and the many other internal and external conferences held by various parts of the group each year. Tony Robbins followed T.S. Mills as Press Officer in 1966.
The preparation of the company’s Annual Report each year was a major task and, as this document played a key role in reinforcing the group’s image, was often designed with the aid of outside consultants. The content and design of the Annual Report changed considerably over the years as will be seen in The Annual Report.
The story of the development of the company’s involvement in Exhibitions can be found in How it Was – Trade Exhibitions. Frank Fuller, who it has been noted above, had been part of this activity since 1929 explained:
“First we have to decide what we want to exhibit and then how much space we need and book it. We have to decide how to display our equipment to the best advantage. A plan has to be made and we must decide where we want power points. All of these items should take priority over what is yet to come, for the intention of the enterprise is to sell our goods. It is what the designers, draughtsman and skilled men on the bench have produced by their united efforts that matters most. Later the stand has to be organised – you need a background for the exhibits, an engineer’s store, an office and somewhere to sit. The stand has to be fitted out with carpeting, office and lounge accommodation and furnishing. Electrical power, supplementary lighting, gas connections, running water and drainage all have to be arranged. Even in the best-arranged circles, you have to improvise. There is always something happening that you cannot bargain for – then you just have to make arrangements on the spot. You cannot do things by theory”.
In 1968, Pat Paterson was assistant group publicity manager and responsible for organising exhibitions. A key task was to appoint and then liaise with a stand designer.
“Stands aren’t just square boxes with machines on any more. They are examples of the art of a highly skilled craftsman – the stand designer. The stand has to be functional, of course, but at the same time highly attractive. An exhibition stand is the company in the eyes of a visitor and the challenge is to make it more attractive than your competitor’s and to make it comfortable and eye-catching from a distance. Anything less like a box would be hard to imagine. It is functional of course, but at the same time highly attractive – not that the stand should be admired for itself – it is only there to display machines to the best advantage.
|Pat Paterson shows Sir Ivor Baker round an exhibition stand.|
So you have the space, the design and, back at the factory, machines are
being built. Also, before the stand is built and the machines arrive, little
items like tickets and leaflets to give to customers have to be designed and
photographs printed to give the stand more ‘eye-appeal’.
No more problems? Not on your life – there are little things like carpeting, office furniture, telephones and gas, electricity and water supplies to arrange. Then, nearer the date, as a paper work plan becomes a reality, there’s the nail biting as the stand builders move in and the exhibition’s manager waits to see if his little baby really looks as good as it should.
It’s likely that, just before the exhibition opens, it looks long odds against everything being ready as the inevitable last minute snags arise.
At last the exhibition opens, the sales representatives move in – probably without giving much thought to all the effort and co-ordination involved – they’ve a pretty tough time ahead anyway. There is just one more thing for the exhibition manager to do: wander round and see how well his competitors have done!”
(See History of Baker Perkins International for a glimpse of how the task of running a major international exhibition stand appears from the salesman’s point of view).
The first group newspaper was introduced by Ivor Baker in August 1964 and continued - with only a short break from January 1971 to September 1973 (and a name change) - until the merger with APV in 1987. Ian Howie was the first editor of “Group News” with Alan Burgess taking over that post in 1965. With the re-emergence of the newspaper in 1973 as “Contact” came a new editor – Ian Wright.
How “Group News” and “Contact” were developed is covered in Group Newspapers.
Documentation, Brochures and Leaflets
The company produced a vast range of documentation, some of which is shown in Documentation. This included not only sales leaflets and brochures and other selling material but also Staff and Works handbooks, internal telephone directories, Sports Club paperwork and programmes, exhibition guides, etc., etc. Some were printed in-house, others at local printing companies. It was important that every item conformed to the ‘house style’ of the time and Corporate Identity tracks the changes in the company’s image over the years.
With his group co-ordination hat on, not surprisingly the time came when Harry Giltrap proposed or was invited to design a new Group symbol. John Peake recalls:
“As Harry was gathering together his ideas it was discovered that Baker Perkins Inc had already developed a symbol of its own. This caused a hiccup in the process that was well under way in England. The final solution was to adopt the American symbol for the Group”.
Whether it was to Harry’s taste or what would otherwise have been selected is not recorded but it did become to be known as the “pregnant golf ball”, an instantly recognised icon around the world. Introduced in around 1962, it remained in use until the time of the merger with APV in 1987. The associated "Baker Perkins Limited" typeface might have undergone some modification over the years but the logo remained virtually unchanged, appearing on just about everything that had any connection with Baker Perkins.
Inevitably, artwork was required for many of the departments’ publications and the company has employed a number of talented artists over the years. More details can be found in Humour at Work, and examples of their work can be found throughout this website.
A key task for the department was to ensure a sufficient stock of sales brochures – in appropriate languages – to meet the needs of the Baker Perkins sales forces around the world.
Prior to 1975, the group used outside agencies to produce advertisements but the group publicity department took over this work as an ‘in-house agency’ for two reasons – it was a way of cutting costs and, by then, it was considered that the department had all of the necessary skills and experience. Located under one roof, designers, photographers and writers could work closely together as a team.
Inevitably, most advertising material produced by the department was for sales purposes and a selection of the local and national press corporate advertising from the Baker Perkins days to APV Baker is shown towards the end of Documentation. Apart from the regular advertising in most of the nationally and internationally published trade journals relevant to the group’s markets, the company carried out recruitment campaigns, the formats of which were also subject to the same ‘corporate image’ rules. Much of the recruitment advertising was aimed at attracting young people into the industry and the company’s involvement in “Careers in Engineering” was significant. (See Training at Westwood Works).
With large capital equipment it is impossible for salesmen to take the product to the customer, and it is often equally impractical to take the customer to the product. The nearest suitable installation might be thousands of miles away or it might be down the road in a competitor’s factory. As a result, industrial films played an important role in helping to tell people about the Baker Perkins group, its organisation and it’s products.
Graham Aubrey – one-time head of photographic services - said that he had seen films about group products dating back to the 30’s but these were black and white and it was not until 1958 that the company began seriously to get into industrial films. The first was called “Automatic Biscuit Production” and was filmed at Bolands Biscuit factory in Dublin. The man behind the camera was Ron Cole, who had just joined the company and was cameraman for practically all Baker Perkins films.
“The Story of Baker Perkins” was produced in 1961. This was the first film to show all of the group’s activities and it was intended that it should be made by an outside organisation. In the end the company film unit made the film for less than half the outside quote and this included re-equipping itself. The unit made six to eight films each year and each location visit was made more cost-effective by giving the subject complete photographic cover with B+W and colour stills and 35mm slides being taken at the same time. These would be used in other company publications – sales brochures, annual reports, etc.
|Ron Cole at work|
Producing films was by no means an easy business. Ron Cole joined Baker Perkins in 1958 and took charge of filming in 1961. He has travelled the world, filming in bakeries, biscuit factories, foundries and chemical plants. He recalled:
“The factories we go to are built to produce goods – not to cater for a film unit. That usually means that there is little space left over for camera and lights. 30 kilowatts of light may be needed – including three 5-kilowatt spotlights, four 2-kilowatt spotlights and several thousand wattage of floodlights. Arranging the lighting is the really hard work. It is also very hot. Filming in a bakery or a laundry is warm work at the best of times. When the lights are set up, every last speck of dust removed and, as was often necessary, paintwork had been touched up - filming could start.
However this was after the trauma of getting the equipment to the factory.
“Modern lighting equipment is rather more portable than it used to be. There was a time when it took a tightly packed Ford Transit van to carry all the lighting, now (in 1982), a similar amount of wattage will go in two suitcases. On a typical overseas trip by air, we will take six cases weighing a total of 160lb. This will include at least 3000 feet of film that had to be carried as hand luggage to prevent it being ruined by X-ray surveillance equipment”.
Getting through customs created its own problems. The paperwork before setting off was immense. Each country having different sets of regulations and with customs officials having an in-built talent for making up new regulations on the spot, the chances of a smooth transition through customs was fairly remote. The film unit was refused entry into one country and accused of smuggling photographic equipment into another.
Shooting on site
Once the film had been shot and returned safely to Peterborough, Graham Aubrey took on the task of turning it into a coherent production with commentary, music and sound effects.
|Graham Aubrey at work|
This painstaking and yet highly creative work necessitated working frame by frame through the shots, matching them to the commentary and coming up with appropriate sound effects. Unfortunately, authentic sounds, recorded on site, are seldom suitable so improvisation is necessary. Graham found, for instance, that water running into a sink proved to be the most successful reproduction of the sound of a drill. Most group films were translated into foreign languages – some creating more problems than others – Mandarin Chinese for instance taking about 20% more time to say than the same thing in English.
|Putting the finishing touches to a film|
Around 1982, the film unit was moving into using video, the original 16mm film being converted both into the new medium and into 8mm for desktop projection when used by the sales teams.
Mention was made earlier that the opportunity was taken during filming to take many still photographs. Apart from being used in a multitude of brochures, Annual Reports, exhibition displays and other publications, Clive Read added top-quality stereo sound to create sophisticated Audio Visual presentations in which a combination of still photographs and diagrams was used with a dissolve system to create a ‘seamless’ visual presentation using anything from two to 40 projectors. In this, Clive was aided by the department’s two graphic designers, Tony Butler and Martin Taylor.
|Clive Read selecting slides|
Following the merger with APV in 1987, most of the Holdings Company personnel were transferred to the APV HQ in Lygon Place, Victoria, London, including Harry Giltrap who stayed on as Group Publicity Manager until his retirement in 1989. In May 1987, some members of the Publicity Department, under Ian Wright, were aided in starting their own company – ARK Communications – that operated out of a building on the Bretton Industrial Estate for a number of years before moving to its present location in Warmington, just outside Peterborough. Clive Read started his own photographic business in 1988.
All content © the Website Authors unless stated otherwise.