Chadderton

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The factory at Newton Heath had served Avro well during the 1920s and 1930s but, as the war clouds gathered, the Air Ministry announced that it would allocate funds to Avro for the construction of a new plant. No expense was spared and Britain's biggest aircraft factory opened in 1939 at Chadderton, near Oldham.

Aircraft production commenced with the construction of the Avro Anson and Bristol Blenheim light bomber, which was built under licence. The Avro Manchester twin-engined bomber followed with limited success but this gave birth to one of the greatest bombers of World War II, the legendary Avro Lancaster! Of the 7,377 Lancasters built, 3,032 were manufactured at Chadderton and transported in sections by road to Woodford for assembly.

As Lancaster production continued, the massive design team at Chadderton, under the direction of Roy Chadwick, worked on new concepts including the Avro York, Lincoln, and Lancastrian, each of which was an excellent aircraft in its own right.

During the post war years, Chadwick designed the Avro Tudor long-range pressurised airliner and Avro Shackleton maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Tragically, Roy Chadwick was killed on a test flight of the Tudor when it crashed on 23rd August 1947.

 

Chadwick completed the initial designs of what would become the Avro Vulcan delta-wing bomber. The work was continued by his deputy, Stuart Davies, who led Chadderton's design team as Avro's Technical Director following Chadwick's untimely death. In total, 136 Vulcans were built (including two prototypes) and these were all manufactured in sections at Chadderton, before transportation to Woodford for assembly. The success of the project is a testament to Davies, who took over such a demanding role in tragic circumstances.

A series of fires devastated the Chadderton factory between 1959 - 1961 but the disruption to aircraft production was kept to a minimum. The production lines for the Vulcan and Avro 748 were soon re-established but sadly many records were lost to the blaze.

Avro was absorbed into Hawker Siddeley in 1963, which in turn became part of British Aerospace in 1977 and finally BAE Systems in 1999. Aircraft production continued at Chadderton throughout this period and included the BAe ATP, BAe 146 and the RJ Regional Jet airliners. Chadderton also produced major components for the European Airbus and, before closure in 2011, provided technical support for many of the RAF's large aircraft including the Nimrod and VC10.

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