Paxman Workforce Statistics
Numbers Employed at Colchester

Fluctuations in the size of the workforce are good indicators of the ebbs and flows in a company's fortunes. That is true of the figures below, showing the numbers employed by Paxman at various periods in its history.

As it currently stands, this page is a far from complete record of the changes in the size of Paxman's workforce. It should perhaps be viewed as 'work in progress'. Nevertheless, there seems no good reason not to publish now the information currently available and to add to the page as new data comes to hand.

My fifteen years at Paxman, 1985 to 2000, were spent working in the Personnel Department. Major responsibilities included recruitment and selection and, sadly, involvement in handling redundancies. Between September 1988 and November 1994 the Company announced no less than eleven redundancy programmes. Working in Personnel the size and composition of the workforce was always very much in mind.

I joined Paxman having previously gained knowledge and experience of manufacturing in industries as diverse as furniture, garden tools, confectionary, steelmaking and light engineering. Some of the features of the Paxman workforce and its employment were markedly different from what I had encountered before. It may make the numbers below more meaningful if I describe some of the distinctive features which impressed themselves upon me:

DateNumber EmployedNotes
1881193Source for years 1881 to 1887: Steam and the Road to Glory, Andrew Phillips, 2002; pp.201-202. (According to this the 1881 count is from 1881 census records.)
1881, September270 on average
1882, June'over 300'
1885about 200, probably.
1887, June300
1898, 1st January600+Source for years 1898 to 1907: Steam and the Road to Glory, Andrew Phillips, 2002; p.354 and table 14.3 on p.378.
1899, 2nd October800+ 
1900, 12th July1,000 approx. 
1900, 25th October1,000-'almost 1,000'
1901, 18th December800 approx. 
1902, 1st December800+ 
1903, 18th May849 
1903, 29th September1,017Source: Essex Telegraph.
Andrew Phillips says there must be considerable doubt about this claim as only 849 were employed in May.
Average weekly wage was 30 shillings (£1-50)
1904, 1st July742 
1905, 1st January768 
1905, 1st July766 
1906, 1st January697 
1906, 1st July821 
1907, 1st January833 
1914-18Up to 1,800During World War 1, the workforce rose to 1,800.
19181,500More than 400 of the 1,500 were women.
Source: Essex County Standard article by Andrew Phillips, October 2015.
1920, June700 
1939, March1,061Source: Essex at War, (Essex County Standard) Ed Hervey Benham, Benham & Co Ltd, Colchester 1945, page 145. The book says that during WW2 the number of employees rose from 1,061 in March, 1939, to the peak of 1,775 in February, 1943. This number included 404 women.
1939, September 600/650 in the Works plus an unspecified number of staff. The Minutes of the Paxman Board Meeting of 13th September refer to air raid precautions and note that "Air Raid Trenches for 600 men are well on the way to completion" (and that an experimental trench for 50 men had already been completed) and that "The above will accommodate all the men at present employed". The minute goes on to say that the cellar beneath the office was being adapted as an air raid shelter for office and Drawing Office staff.
1941, July1,596 
1943, February1,775of which 404 were women
1953, March2,480 
1954, August2,545Source: Board Minutes
1954, October2,536Source: Board Minutes
1959, end March2,226Source: Annual Report
1960, end March2,259Source: Annual Report
1961, end March2,205Source: Annual Report
1962, end March2,298Source: Annual Report
1963, end March2,339Source: Annual Report
1964, end March2,298Source: Annual Report
1965, end March2,196Source: Annual Report.
The Essex County Standard of 14th May 1965 contained a Paxman Centenary supplement which stated that in its 100th year Paxman was employing 2,250: 800 in technical, clerical and administrative occupations and 1,450 engaged either directly or indirectly in manufacture.
1966, end March2,421Source: Annual Report
1966, end December2,528Source: Annual Report
1967 During 1967 the manufacture of large shell boilers at Colchester was transferred to Ruston at Lincoln. It is reasonable to assume this would have involved a significant reduction in the number employed by Paxman. Paxman continued to manufacture the small 'packaged' Autonomic range of boilers until 1969 when this activity was transferred to Ruston at Newton-le-Willows. At that stage there was presumably another, smaller, reduction in the Paxman workforce.
1976, April2,300 
1978, April2,200 
1979, September In September 1979 Paxman closed its foundry. At this time 65 were employed in the foundry. Some of these were redeployed elsewhere in the works and those for whom no suitable alternative employment could be found within the Company were declared redundant. No figures are currently available for the total number employed immediately prior to, or immediately following, the foundry closure.
1980, October1,870 approx.On 7th October 1980 the Company announced plans for 200 redundancies, nearly a ninth of the workforce, with dismissals due to start taking place the following January.
1983-841,260Source: Annual Report to Employees.
Breakdown: 1,013 employed in the mainstream engine business, 108 in Spares & Service, 91 in Regulateurs Europa's UK business and 19 at Roden (in the Netherlands), and 29 in Paxman Filtration (at this time Filtration contracted out its manufacturing to Paxman). The report also contained a breakdown of employees by function within the main engine business. Of the 1,121 people in this part of the business, 701 were employed in manufacturing, 103 in Technical/Engineering roles, 54 in Finance, 29 in Sales, Tendering and Contracts, 108 in After Sales (i.e. spares and service), 62 in Administration, 15 in Business Systems (computers/IT), and 49 were apprentices and trainees.
1984-851,270Source: Annual Report to Employees.
Employment costs for the year were £11.3 million.
1985-86Not statedSource: Annual Report to Employees.
Employment costs for the year were £11.8 million.
1986-871,278Source: Annual Report to Employees.
Employment costs for the year were £10.5 million.
1987-881,287Source: Annual Report to Employees.
Employment costs for the year were £13.7 million.
1988, September1,150 approx.On 22nd September 1988 the Company announced 150 redundancies, with the aim of reducing the workforce from 1,150 to approximately 1,000 by April 1989. This was the first of eleven redundancy programmes during the period up to November 1994.
1989, May1,000
(including Regulateurs Europa.)
In May 1989 the Company announced 50 redundancies, reducing the total number of employees in Paxman and Regulateurs Europa to 950.
1989-90911Source: Annual Report to Employees.
Employment costs for the year were £10.7 million.
(The Filtration Division was sold to Brackett at the beginning of April 1989 and its employees transferred to the new owner at that time.)
1990, May On 10th May 1990 Paxman announced 50 redundancies due to lack of orders.
1990, September On 28th September 1990 Paxman announced a further 35 redundancies.
1990-91803Source: Annual Report to Employees.
Employment costs for the year were £10.1 million.
1992, January750 approx.In January 1992 Paxman announced its fifth redundancy programme since September 1988. At the start of January about 750 were employed in the Company. Two further redundancy programmes were announced during 1992, one in June and one in December.
1991-92772Source: Annual Report to Employees.
Employment costs for the year were £11 million.
1992-93739Source: Annual Report to Employees.
Employment costs for the year were £11.6 million.
1993, September560 approx.On 3rd September 1993 Paxman announced 30 redundancies. These were blamed on government defence cuts. The move brought the size of the workforce down to 530.
1994, January On 7th January 1994 Paxman announced the first of three redundancy programmes during 1994. The need for redundancies was due to a continued delay in placement of major defence contracts, both in the UK and in export markets, and a reduction in the level of spare parts business.
1994, July490
(excluding Regulateurs Europa)
On 1st July 1994 Paxman announced a proposed reduction of about 40 people.
1994, November450
(excluding Regulateurs Europa)
On 29th November 1994 Paxman announced its proposal of a further 60 redundancies. The Company said the redundancies were due to the continued recession in defence markets and the reduced level of its spares business.
1998, May384
(excluding Regulateurs Europa)
On 8th May 1998 Paxman announced its intention to reduce the manpower level by approximately 50 people. The need for redundancies was created by difficulty in winning orders in a very competitive market. More than half of the redundancies were professional, managerial and technical staff.
Form HR1, submitted to the Dept of Trade & Industry at the time of the announcement, gives the following breakdown of the labour force: 164 manual, 59 clerical, 59 professional, 92 managerial/technical, 10 other.
1999-2000330 approx in Paxman
50-55 in Regulateurs Europa
2003, 6th February249 in Paxman
49 in Regulateurs Europa.
On 6th February 2003 MAN B&W Diesel Ltd announced that VP185 engine manufacture was to be transferred from Colchester to Stockport. Of the 249 employees within the Paxman High Speed Engine business at that time, 67 were directly employed within the Diesel Service function. That function, comprising spares and service, would continue to operate from the Colchester site as would the engine overhaul facility. Regulateurs Europa at Colchester was not affected by the proposed changes.
2003, December100 approx in Paxman
49 in Regulateurs Europa
2005, 16th December100 approx in Paxman
32 in Regulateurs Europa
Regulateurs Europa sold to Heinzmann GmbH.
2010, end June71 in Paxman
(31 in Regulateurs Europa)
During Spring 2010 the Spares and Service functions were transferred to Stockport with a resultant reduction in the number of Paxman employees at Colchester.
202080 approx in the former Paxman business of MAN Energy Solutions UK Ltd at ColchesterThis was the number employed at Colchester during the final year of the company's operation at Colchester before closure of the site in 2021.

Page updated: 18 Apr 2021 at 12:17