Town loses link to printing past

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FORMER office worker Sandra Waite, pictured left, held back tears when demolition workers started tearing down her old workplace.

Sandra, 68, of St Andrew’s Road, Bletchley, popped up to Third Avenue in town to see work start on demolishing the old Oyez Stationery factory.

Demolision of Maxwell House (printers) on 3rd Ave Bletchley

Demolision of Maxwell House (printers) on 3rd Ave Bletchley

The company used to be owned by media tycoon, Robert Maxwell, who died in 1991.

“One of the things I had to do was organise a helicopter pad for Robert Maxwell to land at the site,” said Sandra, who worked as a telecommunications supervisor at the legal documents printing company for more than 14 years before being made redundant.

“I didn’t know where to get a windsock from! We sorted it out but Robert Maxwell never came in the end.”

After redundancy Sandra went on to work at Milton Keynes College in Bletchley as a receptionist but fondly recalls her time at the factory.

“A few of us are still in touch with each other. It was a really nice place to work and I feel devastated that it is being taken down.”

Speaking outside her old office on Thursday, she said: “It was like a family business.”

While Sandra never met Robert Maxwell, former Marine Terry Power, 75, did. Terry, pictured right, worked at Bletchley Printers, which was sold to Maxwell in the 1960s becoming a part of the giant Pergamon Press empire.

The company was relocated and became the European Printing Company and Terry and his workmates were made redundant. With that, Bletchley lost a printing business that had begun in town in the 1930s.

Terry, who has lived in Pinewood Drive, Fenny Stratford, with wife Margaret since 1955 said: “Robert Maxwell was a lovely man to talk to – I don’t know about doing business with but he seemed a nice chap.”

Terry added he “wouldn’t be unhappy” at the demise of Maxwell House, where he never worked, because the development would bring “several hundred” new jobs into the area which are “desperately needed”.

Development company PMB Holdings is investing £35million in turning the site into a high-tech datacentre to store computer data.

The site will use electrical power the equivalent of a town the size of Swindon and will have its own generator on site when it goes live in the summer.

It will be known as MK DataVault and will store data from the City of London.

PMB Holdings founder and chairman Peter Beckwith is no fan of the late Robert Maxwell from his days as a young solicitor.

The Mirror Group Pensions scandal in the 1990s lost £400million and affected 30,000 people.

Mr Beckwith said: “The site holds many associations for me of my personal experiences of Robert Maxwell as a young solicitor, and for many Milton Keynes residents the demolition of this building will help support the town in erasing his monstrous presence from this affluent area.”

> See Natalee Hazelwood and David Tooley’s video report at www.miltonkeynes.co.uk and see more in next week’s Business Citizen.