Peco’s 40 years in Beer

PECO moved to Beer 40 years ago yesterday.

On November 25, 1970, a stonelaying ceremony heralded construction of the model railway track manufacturer’s factory.

The firm started life in 1946 in Sidmouth, moved to Seaton in 1952 and acquired the land in Beer from Axminster Rural District Council.

The land had been designated for housing for older people, but was considered unsuitable in the end due to its hillside location.

“My father, Sydney, was desperate to expand, and there wasn’t much room left in Seaton, so he approached the council, and when they offered this land he jumped at it,” said managing director Michael Pritchard.

“The move gave us a modern factory floor area. It was the start of the company becoming that much bigger.”

Tourist attraction Pecorama was opened on the site in 1974, to promote Peco products and magazines.

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The company takes each product from design to export on site, employing 120 full-time production staff.

“We pride ourselves on having very skilled personnel, and one of the most sophisticated tool making operations in the region,” said Mr Pritchard.

Five current employees were there at the start.

Robin Hammett joined the company in Seaton straight from school. His mother, Ellen, was already working there. Within six months he took a post in the packing area and is now head of the export packing department.

Pursuing his passion for model railways, Bob Phelps joined in 1963, having been a professional model maker for two years.

“I have enjoyed my 47 years here immensely, which has led me to staying on long after retirement,” he said.

Following in her mother-in-law’s footsteps, Sue Nia joined Peco in 1969.

“Little did I think then that 41 years later I’d still be working for Peco,” she said.

“I’ve made many friends along the way.”