After many encouraging flights he decided to form his own aeroplane manufacturing company and with financial help from his brother Humphrey, A.V. Roe & Company was formed on 1st January 1910. The firm, which adopted Avro as the trade name, became a Limited Company in 1913.
It was not until the commencement of the First World War that Avro saw any significant expansion, as manufacturing had been a small company in the Manchester area. The Company's growth had been small, but the introduction of the Avro 504 training aeroplane proved to be a great success and the type became the standard trainer for the Royal Training Corps and later the fledging Royal Air Force. The great demand for aircraft required Avro to seek new premises, and a new purpose-designed aeroplane works at Newton Heath was built for the Company.
The Newton Heath Factory served Avro well throughout the 1920's and 1930's producing many famous aircraft with names like Avian. Cadet, Tutor and the ubiquitous Anson, but in 1938, with war clouds gathering, it was announced by the government that Avro would build a large new factory. The site chosen was alongside Greengate in Chadderton near Oldham and Avro's dynamic duo Roy Dobson, Managing Director and Roy Chadwick, Chief Designer, decreed that the plant should be twice the size of other aircraft factories.Employees from Newton Heath began moving into the new works in the Spring of 1939 with the site now becoming Avro Headquarters.
Lancaster Production at Chadderton in June 1944.Aircraft production commenced soon afterwards although not with an Avro Design , but with the Bristol Blenheim light bomber which the Company built under licence. This type was soon followed by the Avro Manchester twin engined bomber, but trouble with the engines forced Roy Chadwick to search for alternative power plants. The answer came with the excellent Rolls-Royce Merlin which powered the famous Spitfire and Hurricane fighters. With four of these engines installed in a modified Manchester, the Avro Lancaster, the most famous bomber to emerge from the second World War, was born
- The war time production of the Lancaster was over 7,000 with almost half of these being built at Chadderton while the remainder were manufactured at other Avro sites or under licence by a number of aircraft companies.
- Chadderton's design team continued to introduce many aircraft including the York, Lincoln, Lancastrian, Tudor and a host of others,
- but the most famous were the Avro Shackleton maritime reconnaisance aircraft which served with the Royal Air Force for over 40 years and the
- mighty Vulcan delta-winged jet bomber which became the backbone of Britain's nuclear deterrent force.
In the post war years the factory's Avro title was absorbed into Hawker Siddeley Aviation with the industry's rationalisation in 1963, and further
changes in 1977 saw the Chadderton plant become part of British Aerospace.In 1999 a further name change was made to BAE SYSTEMS.
The aircraft produced at Chadderton in recent years, the Avro 748 and ATP Advanced Turboprop airliners and components for the BAe 146 and RJ
Regional Jet Avroliner, may not be as familiar as their predecessors, but are no less significant in the world's air transport industry. Chadderton
also produces major components for all the series of the highly successful European Airbus and a large order book has kept the factory busy.
Fred Aughton, the General Manager, accompanies the Mayor of Oldham,
During the last two years, since BAE's took over the site at Chadderton, PROJECT Quasar (the change programme) has been filling the
order books, and keeping the organisation as the second largest employer in the Oldham area. This means that the Chadderton Site, although it
has changed names and ownership several times, is still a major contributor to the Oldham economy and still the centre of Chadderton life, as
it was for our parents and grandparents.
This site is by no means complete and is only intended as an introduction to the History of this famous aircraft factory. Further information
can be obtained by reading the book by Harry Holmes, 'AVRO, THE HISTORY OF AN AIRCRAFT COMPANY', published by
Airlife Publishing Ltd.Visitors to the site, or their families, who worked at the Chadderton factory before the fire in October,1959,
For further information
Avro now has its own website
END OF AN ERA by Harry Holmes
In recent years a dramatic restructuring of Britain's aircraft industry has seen the closure of many famous manufacturing sites and aerodromes including de Havilland's Hatfield, Hawker's Kingston and a host of others, but now the axe is to fall on Chadderton. Although the site will still be connected wi th aviation through the Tanker Transport and Reconnaissance Operations (TTRO) located in the main office block of the BAE SYSTEMS site to provide support for all of those types in the Royal Air Force, the aircraft manufacturing role has now ended.
B.a.e. Closing Ceremony Friday 2nd March 2012
The Society was privileged to be involved in the ceremony on Friday 2nd March, to mark the final closure of B.A.E. Systems,
Chadderton, and the cessation of aircraft manufacture. Past workers assembled in impressive numbers outside the huge factory
as the last 150 workers passed through the security gates to be met by a lone piper, a former employee, whose tunes included,
quite understandably, Olde Lang Syne. The faces of both the leaving staff and those outside, many of whom participated in the
traditional ‘Banging Out’ ceremony for leavers - by banging hammers, etc. on available metal surfaces, were clearly marked
with great emotion.
In the unavoidable absence of the Town Crier, the Secretary of the Society, in his role as Standard Bearer of Chadderton,
made the official Proclamation. In this he alluded to the closure of ‘a remarkable aircraft factory after an illustrious history
spanning nearly three-quarters of a century’.
The factory opened in 1939 as A. V. Roe and on the site Roy Chadwick designed the famous Lancaster bomber, over 3,000
of which were built in Chadderton, and whose role was so crucial in the Second World War. At its height the factory
employed 10,000 people making it the largest manufacturing site in the world. Successively known as Hawker Siddeley Aviation,
British Aerospace, and ultimately B.A.E. Systems, the production lines produced many notable military and commercial aircraft
including the mighty Vulcan bomber with its distinctive triangular wings, the Tornado and ATP (advanced turboprop airliner).
The Lancaster The Vulcan
The site on Greengate was much more than a factory. It was home to a wonderful family of proud and dedicated workers,
whose fond memories will be shared for many years to come. The impressive size of the site will long remain a reminder
of its unique contribution to local life and the local economy, whilst the blue eagle, which surmounts the Chadderton coat-of-arms,
will remind future generations that one of Chadderton’s greatest assets, was once to be seen soaring high in the skies above.
B.A.E. Systems, Chadderton, and all your workers past and present, we thank and salute you!
Last Modified: 07/05/12 Copyright
Chadderton Historical Society 1999-2012