Reminiscence and Resource Centre












Housing Manager reaches 50 – 1963
Manager of the Company’s Housing Estate, Mr Fred West, celebrated his fiftieth birthday yesterday and Bata Record was only one of many who sent “Westy” good wishes.
Last August he completed his quarter of a century of British Bata Service.

Today he has been receiving congratulations and good wishes on all sides as he has gone about his work, which entails visiting houses on Bata Estate for numerous reasons in connection with their maintenance. All those who know “Westy” and the occasion have been only too pleased to express good wishes for the future for they all regard him as a friend.

For nearly six years, he has been responsible for what might be called the well-being of buildings on the Estate.

That involves frequent contact with residents, in order to make sure that everything is all right with them, and that any little job of adjustment they require, receives due consideration.

It is part of his job to make sure that new residents are as comfortable as possible when they move into houses, and to, in effect, maintain friendly contact between the factory and the rest of the Estate.

He is what may be termed a liaison officer in this respect, and that work involves , in addition to personal contact, negotiations with painters, plumbers and other people, study of repairs, chits and a considerable amount of writing and other office work.
“I am really fond of my job,” said Mr West, “and have been happier than ever before since I have been housing manager.”

Before his present job, which takes him largely outside the factory, Mr West was, with Fred Sinclair, in lasts and equipment stock, where he remained for nine years.
When he first arrived there, the premises contained rubber factory equipment only; later, they became considerably enlarged, and supplied – as it still does – leather equipment, as well.

In 1933, he became a Guardsman – “and not only a Guardsman, but a Grenadier Guardsman,” as Sergeant-majors of that famous regiment inform successful recruits. He was a regular soldier, and after expiration of his service, he worked for a London firm. He was called up three days before the outbreak of the last war, during wich he served in France until Dunkirk, and then other parts of Europe.

Hearing his brothers-in-law, A Johnson and Ron Johnson (then in the rubber factory) speak highly of British Bata, he decided to apply for work there. He was successful, and started in the rubber factory as a callender operator.

On his return from active service, he worked for a time on the presses in Dept 302.

Mr West has a son, who is in the engineers’ section, and a daughter, who is at school. He says that, in his opinion, one of the greatest attractions of working for British Bata is the housing facilities.

Mr West has plenty to occupy his time, as when not working, he is wood-working or gardening, and he devotes considerable attention to activities as a member of an organisation which helps South Ockendon hospital.


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