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Westwood Works 1903-2003

The Railway Connection

Creating "The Arktos Sidings"

Augustus Muir's book, "The History of Baker Perkins" tells us - "The site at Westwood had been chosen in 1903 by F.C. Ihlee largely because of its proximity to a main railway line. As many as twenty or thirty trucks per day were once despatched from the company's sidings; but if more than half a dozen railway trucks are now unloaded in the week, it is unusual."

A simple arrangement of sidings is shown on this early factory plan published in 1904.The sidings were always known as "The Arktos Sidings", from the revolutionary, ammonia-based, refrigeration system developed by Loftus Perkins in the late 1800s.

By 1909, both the factory layout and the arrangement of sidings had developed into something a little more complex. The catch points were provided because of the proximity of shunting operations to the Midland main line.

The sidings were the subject of an agreement between WP&P and the M&GNR (Midland and Great Northern Railway) dated 4th October 1909 but had, in fact, been completed in August 1909. The cost of the works was 1614.9s 7d. (1616.48), towards which WP&P paid 1484.3s .8d (1484.18). WP&P paid the Committee to maintain the sidings for an annual sum of 22, which was split 15.17s.0d. (15.85) for siding maintenance and 6.3s.0d. (6.15) for signal expenses. The gates and fences were maintained by WP&P, as were the sidings inside the gates.

By agreement dated 23rd May, 1921 all interests were transferred to Joseph Baker, Sons and Perkins by which time both the factory and the sidings had developed significantly. The early 1920's Site Plan and aerial view clearly illustrate these changes.

These photographs show the rail access into the Despatch Department in 1923. Matching the early 1920's Site Plan to the contemporary aerial view, we believe that the 1923 Despatch Department was in what came to be known as "Y" bay. The lorry disappearing through the doorway to the left in one of the photos would have been entering the main Works yard which was built over when, in 1926, the main Fitting and Machine Shop bays were extended at their west ends.

There were two access points from the main railway line - one at the far north end of the site near to the Pattern Shop, the other close to the Foundry. Two other despatch points were served by rail access on the east side of the factory. One was for small parcels at the east end of the Machine Shop, the other at the east end of "N" Bay of the Fitting Shop.

The rail layout shown was altered in later years (around 1935?) to provide rail access to the east end of the Plate Shop and to the overhead gantry yard crane at the NE corner of the Plate Shop. This would appear to be the final layout as it was identical to that shown in the "New England Sidings and Locomotive Shed" diagram dated 1950.

Wartime production was despatched by rail, loading of railway wagons being carried out using a mobile crane as shown here. A composite photograph in Baker Perkins at War also shows a trainload of Field Ovens leaving Westwood Works during the 1914-18 War.

Alan Dann started his career at Baker Perkins in 1943 taking details of railway wagons as they entered the site. He tells us that a yard gang was employed to move, load and unload the wagons - one of the "shunters" being Dick Layton. It was important for the yard gang to load or unload each wagon within three days or the Railway Company levied an extra charge.

The 22 maintenance charge continued until 1954 when Baker Perkins agreed to British Railways' request for an increase to 107. The agreement was terminated as from 31st January 1971, the connection to British Rail being removed in June 1971. Latterly, works traffic had been very sparse, consisting only of a few wagons of scrap iron, plus the occasional wagon from the continent.

Motive Power

Rudolf Ihlee's 1919 lithograph of the east side of Westwood Works suggests that railway wagons were, at that time, shunted around the site by small electric locomotives. The pantograph of one of these can be seen at the extreme left hand side of the print, with another just visible behind the two Midland Railway wagons at the base of the water tower.

The following description of the electric locomotives and overhead system appeared in the February 15th 1926 edition of "The Locomotive". (With acknowledgements).

"At the Westwood Works, Peterborough, of Messrs. Baker Perkins Ltd., the interesting combined trolley and battery locomotive has been in service for some time. The combination of trolley and battery was adopted mainly to obviate the necessity of extending the overhead trolley wire and equipment over some new siding extensions which now extend over a large area and have upwards of two miles of rails, only a small section of which is equipped with overhead wiring.

The battery has been supplied by the DP Battery Company, of Bakewell -their TR. 21 cells being used. The charging equipment consists of a specially designed panel and is in connection with the overhead trolley wire, so that a completely self-contained unit is obtained and needs no separate charging set or station. Charging is carried out on any part of the section having overhead wiring, and can be done whilst shunting is in progress or as an occasion arises.

The panel was made to Messrs. Baker Perkins' own design, by the General Electric Co., Witton Works, Birmingham. In this respect it is probably unique. The motors are 21 1/2 h.p. traction type one on each axle, and are run either series or parallel, controlled by a B.T.H. tramway type controller.

The controller is built for the usual series-parallel starting system, and at the same time for dynamic braking in emergency.

The dimensions of the locomotive are comparatively small for the standard gauge, but this was necessary in order to negotiate the extremely small radii of some of the curves on the track. Its weight fully equipped is approximately five tons.

The tractive effort is 100 tons and on battery work alone has, on test, manipulated a load of 85 tons up a gradient of 1 in 20 at a speed of approximately six miles per hour. Its maintenance cost is extremely low. Moreover, it is also a valuable asset in a complete electrically driven works and is often put to uses for power purposes, such as auxiliary Lighting, and driving electric cranes and motors, up to its capacity. This is arranged through the panel to the trolley wire and from there to the main switchboard and away to the distributing points".

We understand that from 1944, this work was carried out by a small (0-4-0?) Ruston Hornsby diesel shunter. This loco was sold for scrap in August 1960. It is also possible that in later years, a Fordson tractor fitted with a large wooden buffer beam was used. We are not aware that any photographs of either of these exist.

Unusual Visitors to the Sidings

Ex-British Rail locomotive 73050 was stabled for a time on the Westwood Works sidings after purchase in 1969 by Rev. Paten. The loco was later moved to Wansford where it formed the nucleus of the Nene Valley Railway. While resident at Westwood, 73050 was stored on the siding between the east end of the machine shop and the main railway line, under a temporary canopy that came from Pilton ironstone quarries. Another photograph showing 73050 being attended to under the canopy can be seen here.

Just after WW2, Westwood received a visit from a group of senior managers from the Scottish CWS. They came to see the latest machinery developments and have a "bit of a shindig". Being canny Scots, rather than book hotel rooms, they hired a Dining Car and a Sleeping Car on the train to Peterborough. These were detached at the (then) North Station and transferred to Westwood sidings, being parked for the duration of their visit, next to the Pattern Shop.
Sir Franklin Braithwaite

We are indebted to Mike Hodge (a member of the M&GN Circle) and especially to the editor of the M&GN Circle publications, Mick Clark, for giving permission to publish some of the above diagrams and material on this Website. Our sincere thanks and appreciation go to them both.

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