ManufacturingRank Xerox

Welwyn Garden City

In 1962 the Rank Organization took over Murphy Radio and the firm became Rank, Bush, Murphy. TV and radio production ceased in 1964 when the company expanded into electronics.

In 1969, another Rank company, Rank Xerox, moved into the former Murphy Radio factory premises on Bessemer Road in Welwyn Garden City. This became a major manufacturing site for Rank Xerox, producing electronic assemblies and materials for its copier divisions.

Rank Xerox Welwyn Garden CityWGC plant
Fred Wickstead in front of a picture of the Rank Xerox plant at Welwyn Garden City in September 1969

According to Rank Xerox International Review in 1980, there was 2,326 employees at Rank Xerox Welwyn Garden City. It included the original Murphy Radio factory building as well as additional buildings constructed by Rank Xerox, comprising a large campus with three matching four-story office buildings (Development Centre, Business Centre, Enterprise Centre) and a warehouse called Vision House.

The Rank Xerox campus in Welwyn Garden City consisted of four main buildings:

  • The Development Centre - A four-story office building located on the western side of the site
  • The Business Centre - Another matching four-story office building, situated in the center of the three main buildings
  • The Enterprise Centre - The third matching four-story office building, located on the eastern side of the site
Xerox WGC building
Xerox WGC building in 2009 (Google Maps)

All three of these office buildings had a symmetrical layout, facing inwards towards a central roundabout access point on the campus. They were constructed with a third floor that contained plant rooms/mechanical spaces on the roof level.

  • Vision House also referred to as Orion House - A separate warehouse building that served an ancillary function, providing storage/distribution space supporting the three main office buildings

Below are 3 pictures of what today is known as the Orion/Vision house

Rank Xerox Research and Development Centre WGC 1989
Former Rank Xerox Research and Development Centre WGC 2009 (Google Maps)
Former Rank Xerox Research and Development Centre WGC 2021 (Google Maps)

Rank Xerox Engineering Group

Rank Xerox Engineering Group (RXEG) moved from Milton Keynes to Welwyn Garden City in May 1980. RXEG also had locations at Venray and Mitcheldean. The major responsibilities were to design and develop new products for the mid-volume copier market and to support the manufacturing operations. The group  was making a significant contribution towards developing new copiers and duplicators for the future in 1980’s.

RXEG worked also closely with the USA staff responsible for Xerox office information systems and advises them on the technical needs of markets in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Nearly half a million printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) were made in 1980 at Welwyn Garden City, an

increase of 15 per cent over 1979. With the expansion and further automation that took place during the year, Welwyn had become the prime manufacturer of electronic parts for copiers and duplicators in the Rank Xerox world. Two-thirds of Welwyn's workload was in electronics, the rest being production of photoreceptors.


 

Xerox 1045
Xerox 1045

The cornerstone of the 10 Series is the Xerox 1045, manufactured at Venray in Holland and designed at Welwyn Garden City by Rank Xerox's own Engineering Design Group – the first time that a copier system has been

designed in the UK for sale around the Xerox world.


February 1992: At Welwyn a 56,000 cubic feet hot air balloon lifts off to mark the launch of the Xerox 4235, which was the first mid volume laser printing system designed to meet the printing needs of both the data centers and the office, simultaneously.

 

Some job advertisment at Rank Xerox Welwyn Garden in the 1980's.


Xerox closed its operations in Welwyn Garden City in 2015/2016. The closure marked the end of an era for the site, which had been a significant part of the local economy and community for decades. After the closure, plans were made to redevelop the site, including proposals to convert the former Xerox buildings into housing and other facilities.

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