Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close  (Read 6295 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline smudge

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *
  • Posts: 9207
  • Human Name: Andrew
  • Local Airport: EGAD PP:QK 360R:GOTNA
Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« on: January 25, 2016, 07:41:20 AM »
There have been rumours floating around the town for a few months that the Bombardier factory site on the Crawfordsburn Road had been sold for housing development.  Over the weekend I had confirmation that the site will be closing in April 2016.

It started life as the Shorts Glen Works*, later renamed Light General Engineering Division, and in addition to manufacturing sub-assemblies for the 'big' factories it also produced its own end-products, including: ( Edit: corrected name to General Engineering ).

  • The Nobel car
  • Metroluk brand carpet sweepers!
  • Prototype Shorland APCs, before Queen's Island 'stole' the production
  • Integrated rack-mounted airliner seating, which Shorts patented
  • Those hair-drying bubbles once so common in hair-dressers

I'm not sure what they produced under the secretive Bombardier regime but from occasional peeks I managed through various external doors it looked like Learjet fuselage frames.

The other Bombardier site in the town is the Hawlmark heavy-pressings facility just around the corner, on Corry Street.  As far as I am aware it will not be affected.


I'll contact Bombardier to see if they'd organise a farewell tour but from previous experience I doubt they'll comply.



* The lower Crawfordsburn Road was originally a combination of an extension of William Street ( the flat lower section ) and the Glen Road ( the steep hill up to Tullynagardy ).
« Last Edit: January 26, 2016, 08:19:29 AM by smudge »

Offline viking9

  • Military Movements Group
  • Air Vice-Marshal
  • *
  • Posts: 1391
  • Gender: Male
  • Local Airport: BHD
  • Favourite Aircraft: KC-135R
  • Camera Used: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80
Re: Bombardier Newtownards Light Engineering factory to close
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2016, 08:03:25 AM »
Sad news. Do you know how many are employed there?
Tom

_____________________________________________
I could have sworn it was just a fly on the windscreen.

Offline smudge

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *
  • Posts: 9207
  • Human Name: Andrew
  • Local Airport: EGAD PP:QK 360R:GOTNA
Re: Bombardier Newtownards Light Engineering factory to close
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2016, 08:13:48 AM »
Here is the site as it exists today, looking east courtesy of Bing oblique imagery.

The factory was squeezed into a site formerly occupied by flax bleaching greens, bounded to the north by the river ( now culverted, marked in blue ) and the south by a huge embankment for the B&CDR railway ( now removed and paralleld by the Hardford Link road ).

The little row of terraced houses to the north-east of the site is Red Row, built for the supervisors of the Glen Printing works farther to the north ( see http://www.newtownards.info/glen-print.htm ).

In latter years, the past decade or so, the large buildings to the west of the site ( bottom of photo ) were leased-out to Banner Distribution, formerly HMSO's stationery division and now are occupied by TruLine Delivery, itself the former delivery arm of Banner!  When Shorts occupied the buildings they used to have a series of large skips situated to the lower-right from which the local populace used to avail themselves of many useful-but-discarded materials...

Offline smudge

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *
  • Posts: 9207
  • Human Name: Andrew
  • Local Airport: EGAD PP:QK 360R:GOTNA
Re: Bombardier Newtownards Light Engineering factory to close
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2016, 08:19:59 AM »
Sad news. Do you know how many are employed there?

Good question; I'll count the cars parked there and add on a couple for the valiant cyclists! 

Edit: Looks like about 80 to 120 per shift.

I couldn't find exactly when it was opened but it was well established by 1956 when problems in the British Motor Company resulted in a trance of lay-offs.   In the previous year they were hit by the cancellation of the Supermarine Swift.

Four years later the Nobel car production was reallocated to Fairey.

Things haven't really seemed to improve in the subsequent 60 years...
« Last Edit: January 25, 2016, 07:28:28 PM by smudge »

Offline Dr Draken

  • Military Movements Group
  • Squadron Leader
  • *
  • Posts: 183
  • Gender: Male
  • Local Airport: Belfast City
  • Favourite Aircraft: Mosquito
Re: Bombardier Newtownards Light Engineering factory to close
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2016, 07:20:12 PM »
They also manufactured fuel tanks for Stirlings there during WW2.
Or at least put the rubber/fabric self sealing covering on the tanks.

Offline smudge

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *
  • Posts: 9207
  • Human Name: Andrew
  • Local Airport: EGAD PP:QK 360R:GOTNA
Re: Bombardier Newtownards Light Engineering factory to close
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2016, 08:26:06 PM »
Thanks Dr D, I didn't know that.  So they'd been established quite early.

Found a couple of references to the works in the Flight archives, one about Britannia and Viscount seats and a 1970 reference to fork-lifts.

From what I can determine they also made the seats for the Skyvan and 3x0 series.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2016, 08:29:14 PM by smudge »

Offline Angry Turnip

  • Global Moderator
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *****
  • Posts: 9725
  • Gender: Male
  • Local Airport: BFS
  • Favourite Aircraft: Hawker Hunter/Harrier
  • Camera Used: Nikon D7100 with Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS and Nikon AF-S DX VR 55-300mm f/4-5.6
  • A-P.net Photos: 1
Re: Bombardier Newtownards Light Engineering factory to close
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2016, 08:58:38 PM »
I thought it had closed a few years ago-sad to hear of this. :(

Offline smudge

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *
  • Posts: 9207
  • Human Name: Andrew
  • Local Airport: EGAD PP:QK 360R:GOTNA
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2016, 08:29:12 AM »
The straddle-carriers appear to have resulted from the 1958 purchase of British Straddle Carrier Co:
Quote
THE British Straddle Carrier Co., Ltd., has been acquired by Short Bros. and Harland, Ltd. B.S.C. was formerly a subsidiary of Fisons Pest Control, Ltd. The name will not be changed, but all manufacturing activities will be controlled by Short's general engineering division at Newtonards. Sales and service will operate from East India House, Regent Street, London, W.I.

A Mark II straddle carrier, to carry 10-ton loads up to 40 ft. long, has been built. It conforms to the Construction and Use Regulations.

Meanwhile, some fork-lifts built in Ards ventured out to sea:

Quote
In the mid-1960s British manufacturers were also showing a major interest in the use of forklift trucks on board ships. The main thrust of this was with the cooperation of the Royal Navy on board the large supply ships. Building on an order placed in 1965, the Ministry of Defence ordered a further four machines from Short Bros and Harland Ltd. These had lifting capacities of up to 12,000lbs to handle the large and bulky items of equipment such as the long-range aircraft fuel tanks on board HMS Eagle.

Electro-Hydraulics ( now Rubery Owen Conveyancer ) in Darlaston were a sales agent for the Shorland fork-lift from 1961 onwards.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2016, 08:50:18 AM by smudge »

Offline ww2ni

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Group Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 668
  • Gender: Male
    • The Second World War in Northern Ireland
  • Local Airport: Belfast City
  • Favourite Aircraft: Anything Low and Very Fast!!
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2016, 12:00:20 PM »
I believe Shorts started splitting up their production process to get out of Belfast in WW2.
Lambeg, Lisburn, Ards, Kings Hall etc.

Offline Dr Draken

  • Military Movements Group
  • Squadron Leader
  • *
  • Posts: 183
  • Gender: Male
  • Local Airport: Belfast City
  • Favourite Aircraft: Mosquito
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2016, 08:17:27 PM »
As well as manufacturing, the storage of Stirling parts was also dispersed to some very unlikely locations.
And I guess it all helped make room for Sunderland production too.
 

Offline smudge

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *
  • Posts: 9207
  • Human Name: Andrew
  • Local Airport: EGAD PP:QK 360R:GOTNA
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2016, 10:07:29 AM »
Earliest records I can find of the Glen Works in PRONI is 1947.  Would the wartime records be filed elsewhere, I wonder?

I'll try the National Archives for Ministry of Aircraft Production.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 10:07:55 AM by smudge »

Offline Ed Winchester

  • Military Movements Group
  • Squadron Leader
  • *
  • Posts: 248
  • Gender: Male
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2016, 11:22:02 AM »
The main reason the factory was based in Ards was due to the bedrock

As we all know the main factory is built on all the rubbish and crap from Belfast and the gas works
The heavy presses could not work properly as every time they went down they moved up and down a bit and the tolerances of the finished item was out of limits

So the factory was built on a outcrop of granite that worked much better than the  landfill

Offline smudge

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *
  • Posts: 9207
  • Human Name: Andrew
  • Local Airport: EGAD PP:QK 360R:GOTNA
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2016, 03:32:43 PM »
Yep, that's the Hawlmark* factory around the corner from the Glen Works.  There were two Hufford presses at Queen's Island but as you say the big 150-tonner had to be installed on firmer foundation.  It ran for about five decades until decommissioning in 2006.  I don't know if it was replaced, certainly I haven't heard the great racket since then.

I'm still not clear on the chronology of when the Glen and Hawlmark factories were established, a search in PRONI on Monday was unhelpful.


* Hawlmark was the name of famous rose-grower Alexander Dickson's land**, on which that factory was built.  It is occasionally incorrectly rendered Hallmark which is probably influenced by the card shop!   Later, probably in the mid-1970s, Shorts bought Forde Street and demolished most of the houses to extend their car park.   Around 1980 / 1981 they also redirected the north end of Corry Street to extend their site even more; the original kerb stones are still visible on the site!

« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 04:46:00 PM by smudge »

Offline Dr Draken

  • Military Movements Group
  • Squadron Leader
  • *
  • Posts: 183
  • Gender: Male
  • Local Airport: Belfast City
  • Favourite Aircraft: Mosquito
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2016, 06:58:25 PM »
October 1942, so post Blitz. Maybe mid to late  41 onward?

Offline smudge

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *
  • Posts: 9207
  • Human Name: Andrew
  • Local Airport: EGAD PP:QK 360R:GOTNA
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2016, 10:11:38 AM »
Factory site now up for rent on Osborne King's website

http://www.osborneking.com/property-item/?Property_ID=23718&FriendlyID=16-Crawfordsburn-Road-Newtownards-BT23-4EA

Not much shown of the interior, which seems odd when they're trying to find lessors.  The blue machine in one of the photos appears to be an older model of Modig Profile Line CNC extrusion centre. 

Most of the machinery has already been evacuated to Queens Island and another new site on Airport Road ( not sure where ) and the remaining staff are finishing-off contracts before being relocated or 'let go'.

~~

As far as I can tell this factory was built around the mid-1980s, 200 metres down the road from the Short's previous location in the Glen Print Works shown in Dr D's photo above.  The Print Works, a beautifully ornate red-brick building, was subsequently demolished and is now the flat site of BM Auto Exchange.

www.bmautoexchange.co.uk

The gates and stone wall in the background of many of the posed car photos on the BM website are of Brook House, across the road from the Print Works, which was occupied by Shorts during the war as office space from which to administer their operations in Newtownards.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 10:26:05 AM by smudge »

Offline smudge

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *
  • Posts: 9207
  • Human Name: Andrew
  • Local Airport: EGAD PP:QK 360R:GOTNA
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2016, 11:14:44 AM »
Shorts locations in Newtownards as of late 1942, per a trawl through PRONI.  Primary concern was assembly and finishing of fuel tanks, at least initially for Stirlings.

Exact dates of operations and work undertaken at sites other than the Glen are still TBD.

Works

  • Glen Works closing in March 2016.  Most of the site has already been turned-over to other industrial occupants and Bombardier only occupies the south-east corner.
  • Hawlmark scheduled for closure prior to 2020.
  • Regent Works ( former site of the brewery ) is now a garden centre.

Stores

  • Blaxknit returned to garment manufacture until its closure in the 1990s, demolished and replaced by a housing development called Mark Street Mews.
  • Lavery's location is speculative at the moment, probably as shown here on the site of Debrettas garment factory which closed in 1992 and was demolished to become a... housing development called East Street Court.
  • Strangford Sock Company was bought and merged into Blaxknit, not sure of its history after that but George Shank's warehouse appears to stand on the site now.
  • Clandeboye Sawmill shed is still extant :D

Administration
  • Brook House returned to residential use after the war and remains so to this day, one of the few mansions to have survived in the town.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 11:20:46 AM by smudge »

Offline shamrock249

  • Test Group
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Gender: Male
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2018, 07:51:32 PM »
I worked in the Glen Works from 1962 to 1969 when I left to move to Canada. It was a great place to work I worked in the upholstery shop where we made the seats for the Air Transport Command. We also did the seats for the Skyvan and the Belfast. The plant also manufactured armoured cars in which we installed all the interior padding. Also, carpet sweepers were made here.

Offline smudge

  • G8 Contact Group
  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • *
  • Posts: 9207
  • Human Name: Andrew
  • Local Airport: EGAD PP:QK 360R:GOTNA
Re: Bombardier Newtownards General Engineering factory to close
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2018, 10:27:11 PM »
Good to hear from you!

There was a Glaswegian chap trying to sell one of the Meteor carpet-sweepers on eBay for about a year, I did consider buying it but the postage was the problem.  Big long thing! :)

I have some scans of newspaper photos of the Shorland armoured cars in the Glen Works, will dig them out.