The Newton Heath factory had served Avro well throughout the 1920s and 1930s, but with the war clouds gathering it was announced by the government that Avro would have a new plant built. The site chosen was at Chadderton near Oldham and Avro’s dynamic duo, Roy Dobson and Roy Chadwick decreed that this facility should be twice the size of the other aircraft factories .
Employees from Newton Heath began moving into the new works in the Spring of 1939 with aircraft production commencing soon afterwards although not with an Avro design, but with the Bristol Blenheim light bomber which the Company built under licence. This type was followed by the Avro 679 Manchester twin engined bomber, but poor engine performance forced Roy Chadwick to search for alternative power plants. The answer came with the Rolls-Royce Merlin, an excellent engine which was proving itself in the famous Spitfire and Hurricane fighters. Four of these engines were installed in a modified Manchester and emerged the greatest bomber to see service during the Second World War, the Avro 683 Lancaster.
The wartime production of the Lancaster was over 7,000 with almost 3,000 being manufactured at Chadderton. The plant manufactured all of the large components which were then transported to Woodford for final assembly, a practice which continued throughout the factory’s working life.
As the Lancaster production continued, Chadderton’s massive design team, under the direction of Roy Chadwick, continued to introduce many excellent aircraft including the York, Lincoln, Lancastrian. The requirement for a long-range pressurised airliner brought the Tudor but, government interference saw this type reduce in numbers with production finally being cancelled. Sadly, it was the crash of a Tudor in August 1947 which cost Roy Chadwick his life. However, he had already instigated the design of the Shackleton, a maritime reconnaissance aircraft which served with the Royal Air Force for over 40 years.
Chadwick, had also laid the foundations for an advanced four-jet, delta wing aircraft known as the Avro 698, but after his death the design was taken over by Stuart Davies, who had become the Company’s Technical Director, with this type eventually becoming the mighty Vulcan.
Large fires in 1959-1961 slowed production slightly.
In the post war years, Avro was absorbed into Hawker Siddeley Aviation in 1963, further changes were made in 1977 when H.S.A., became British Aerospace, then in 1999, BAE SYSTEMS.
The aircraft produced at Chadderton in later years included the excellent 748, Andover and ATP Advanced Turboprop airliners and components for the BAe146 and the RJ Regional Jet airliners.
The plant also produced major components for the European Airbus and, before closure in 2011, Chadderton provided technical support of all of the R.A.F.’s large aircraft including Nimrod, VC-10 and Tristar.