Image by LPhot Kyle Heller; © Crown copyright 2023.

History of Ernest West & Beynon

  • Pre-refrigeration

    Prior to mechanical refrigeration, food was preserved in ice, harvested in winter and stored in ice houses. Early commercial refrigeration plants produced ice blocks so that there was a year-round supply. Pictured is an icemaking plant from the late 1800s featuring H.J. West, Ernest West’s father.

  • Founded in 1909

    Ernest West & Beynon set out in 1909 to produce small commercial direct expansion refrigeration plant utilising CO2 refrigerant. The plant was very advanced for its time; it operated at 1-2˚C and circulated air over a cooling coil which they called their pure dry air process. It totally transformed the quality of stored meat which had up to this time been preserved in ice and salt and in concept it’s no different to what we do today.

    Each system was sold with a handbook giving advice on how to construct a suitably insulated room using cotton silicate or cork insulation in a timber frame with timber cladding.

    Today’s cold stores have highly efficient fire-retardant foam panel systems, immune to attack from mould, mildew and vermin. Panels are clad in with food safe steel linings.

  • 1920s & 1930s

    From the 1920s provisions plants were produced for marine use. In the 1930s domestic automatic refrigerators were developed for the Royal Navy. The provisions plants and marine refrigerators for the Royal Navy formed the majority of Ernest West & Beynon’s output during the Second World War.

    This began Ernest West & Beynon’s relationship with the Royal Navy which continues today.
    Today’s highly efficient provisions plants are computer controlled with diagnostic screens and remote monitoring facilities. Cabinets feature removable machinery modules designed for operation in ambient conditions up to 45˚C.

  • 1950s

    The first CFC recovery plants were developed for the ministry of defence.

    Not to save the ozone layer, but to save money!

    Early missiles used refrigerants blown to waste to cool their guidance systems when on test.
    Today specialist recovery systems are designed for the complete recovery of all refrigerant types in low ambient conditions. Refrigerant recovery is now a critical part of service, repair and decommissioning of systems to ensure F-Gas compliance and help save our environment.

  • 1960s

    Ernest West & Beynon were among the first UK companies to manufacture cascade low temperature refrigeration systems.

    Ultra-low temperature cabinets operating down to -85°C are used extensively in medical research and environmental testing.

    The product of over 25 years of continuous development, our upright ultra-low temperature cabinet was specifically designed to provide long reliable service with low running and maintenance costs. We were the first manufacturer to offer a 5 year parts and labour warranty.

    We continue to support the scientific and medical industries with clients such as the Royal Veterinary College and the Francis Crick Institute.

  • 1980s

    The war in the Falkland Islands identified a crucial need for equipment that could be easily replaced if damaged when out at sea.

    Ernest West & Beynon designed a refrigerated cabinet with a machinery module that could be replaced in a matter of minutes.

    We continue to supply refrigerator and freezer modules that can be easily changed when out at sea.

  • 1980s & 1990s

    Ernest West & Beynon developed designs for innovative fire retardant modular cold stores for a new class of Type 23 frigates. All 16 ships in the class were installed, with subsequent stand-alone cold rooms added to extend the duration of the ships.

  • Image by LPhot Chris Sellars; © Crown copyright 2023.

    2000s – Present

    Following the success on the Type 23, Ernest West & Beynon went on to supply cold stores for the 6 new type 45 destroyers.

    As well as this we have been very active in the retrofit of refrigeration plants for Royal Fleet Auxiliaries to change to more environmentally friendly refrigerants. We have refitted a number of cold store, cargo and chilled water plants.

    Ernest West & Beynon completed the build and installation on the cold and cool rooms on both new air craft carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

    Additional to our marine projects we have developed ground cooling systems for Typhoon aircraft.

    We are currently working on 8 sets of cold stores for the new T26 class, and also alongside ColdLogic Australia for their new global combat ships.