Paul Murley joined Westland as an Apprentice Engineer aged 15 yrs in 1945 and rose to the position of Engineering Services Manager completing 44 yrs service. He remembers the uproar when the company closed the very excellent works canteen and replaced it with self-service ready meals and microwave ovens
Very good meals, lovely meals, couldn’t fault the canteen, except the company, bless their hearts, tried to implement a microwave system and everybody said this won’t work. The unions said this won’t work but they were trying to cut the costs of running the restaurant. So, of course, all this machinery turns up and you turn-up in the canteen and you can look and have all sorts of meals that would cost you £2 and £3 and you could have a desert. You would open up the slot, take the meal out, put it into the microwave machine, microwave it up, go back and have your meal and go. This went on for quite some time but you could see people were showing their disgruntlement by not being involved in it, right? So, eventually that was all changed and we were back to a proper nice servery and things like that which I believe they’ve got today. Once again, when you employ an outside agency – I think Gardner Merchant was the outside agency to run the canteen – they want their bit and the company wants its bit and that ends up with microwaves and the rest of it. It really didn’t work but it’s nice to see they’ve got back to what we understand is a good restaurant.