A chapter closes as firm shuts its doors

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IT WAS the end of an era as Bertram Library Services Ltd closed its warehouse operation.

The company, once known as Morley Books, has been providing books and learning materials to libraries and schools for over 70 years.

In July, following a 90-day consultation with staff, managers announced the parent company had decided to relocate its operation to their main distribution centre in Norwich.

Although 32 members of the office team are relocating to Cleckheaton and a small number have taken up jobs in Norwich, the majority of the employees have been made redundant.

At its peak the Elmfield Road firm employed 280 people but recently the number has been around 220.

The first redundancies happened on July 30 and jobs have been shed gradually up until September 10 when the warehouse ceased production and fell silent.

The first departure of staff was marked by a special occasion - not a celebration, but an opportunity for them to get together to remember the good times.

They held a hog roast and barbecue in the car park, an event which proved to be a roaring success according to HR manager Wendy Brown.

She said managing director Steve Carter proved a good sport behind the bar while she and operations manager Nicky Shales found themselves in fancy dress as Super Girl and Wonder Woman.

Mrs Brown said: “A great time was had by everyone. The only thing which tried to spoil the day was the rain but no one allowed it to dampen the spirits.

“I and many others have been humbled on more than one occasion by the sheer strength of spirit of the entire staff at Bertrams.

“It has been a time of laughter and tears and every single one of our employees has shown great dignity.

“Everyone has done above and beyond what was required of them in the lead-up to their redundancy.

“On the day they were told that the site was to relocate, 150 of (the staff) burst into song on the factory floor singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

“On the last day, when everyone was leaving, they again burst into song, singing We’ll Meet Again.

“They are a team of people with great spirit and they will not be beaten down by what has happened to them. It is a time of great change for all of us.”

They certainly will meet again as a reunion has already been planned for all past and present employees of Bertrams, or Cypher, Morley Books and Dunn and Wilson, as the company has been known over the years.

It will be held at Ackroyd Street WMC from 7.30pm on October 1 and any former employees are welcome.