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Newton Heath (Brownsfield Mill and Clifton Street)


 Brownsfield Mill and Clifton Street

After the early days in Brownsfield Mill, investors in the Company made an agreement with Alliott and Humphrey Verdon Roe to make A.V. Roe and Company a Limited concern and this was duly registered on 11 January 1913. After an order from the War Office for Avro 500s with a prospect of further, it was decided to seek new and larger premises and these were soon found in Newton-Heath-1-150x110[1]Clifton Street, Miles Platting, Manchester, and the seventy-five personnel were transferred from Brownsfield Mill.   With workers and material installed, the new works opened on 17 March 1913.

The commencement of the First World War saw orders for the Avro 504 and it was obvious that the current floor space could not cope with the requirement.   Fortunately the local engineers, Mather and Platt, had just completed building the Park Works extension and Avro was immediately granted permission to use the new premises. Some flying was also possible from a field nearby, but a small airfield known as Alexandra Park was established as an Acceptance Park for aircraft delivery to the Royal Flying Corps. At the same time a small unit was purchased in Failsworth to manufacture small sheet metal components and this became known as the Empire Works, this facility remaining open continually until closed by British Aerospace on 31 October 1981.   The seventy-five sheet metal specialist workers were transferred to the nearby Chadderton factory.   Victory in the War saw problems for aircraft manufacturers and Avro was no exception. The new large factory at Newton Heath was almost complete and specifically designed for large scale production, but the end of hostilities meant the virtual end to large production orders.   Production and repair of the Avro 504K continued, but orders to sub contractors had to be cancelled immediately.

Searching to diversify at Newton Heath the engineers also had plans to design and build a 12h.p. saloon car with floor space shared with the aircraft section.   The Hamble factory would be able to cope with aircraft production as orders were slow in coming. After a number of Avro Cars were built production was ended on 6 May 1920 as Crossley Motors Limited bought a majority share in A.V. Roe and Company Limited.   The Crossley 25/30 saloon was achieving excellent sales and Avro manufactured bodies for this model and also supplemented the finances by the production of a variety of toys, tin baths, bassinets and a particularly good billiard table.

Newton Heath Production Line

Newton Heath Production Line

In 1924 a serious problem arose when the airfield at Alexandra Park was to be closed and Avro eventually found a suitable location for a replacement at New Hall Farm, Cheshire.   Now known as Woodford the new airfield was approximately fifteen miles from Newton Heath.

With the closure of Hamble, the Newton Heath facility became the Avro Headquarters with aircraft production for all types being undertaken there.   Besides the excellent Avian, the types included three-engined aircraft, the Avro Five, Six and Eighteen named for the number of passengers carried. One of the most successful types built at Newton Heath was the Avro 621 Tutor series of aircraft which besides serving with the Royal Air Force sold extensively around the world in both military and civil roles. Another interesting type built during the 1930s period was the Avro 671 Rota autogiro which was later to prove invaluable in radar trials.

Newton Heath 4By far the most famous type to come out of Newton Heath was the Avro 652A Anson.   Originally designed as a high speed mail carrier, this low wing, twin-engined aircraft had a retractable undercarriage, the first on an Avro type.   The maiden flight of the Avro 652 mail carrier was of 7 January 1935 and the need for a military version did not escape Roy Chadwick who could see that with some changes including a gun turret would prove it meet an Air Ministry requirement for a maritime reconnaissance aircraft for
R.A.F. Coastal Command.   Work was soon underway on the shop floor and the prototype of the 652A was completed in record time with the new machine’s first flight taking place from Woodford on 24 March 1935. After excellent performance trials, full development was approved on 27 August 1935 with the name Anson. The first contract was for 174 aircraft, but many more were to follow.
Newton Heath 5

In May 1938 Avro received a wonderful boost with an order to build the Bristol Blenheim light bomber and, work on this type proved so successful that eventually 250 Mk.Is and 750 Mk.IVs were manufactured by the Company.   Production continued throughout the Second World War on Blenheims, Ansons and Lancaster components, but after the war ended the requirement for the facility also ended and on 8 April 1947 the factory closed and many personnel were transferred to the Chadderton factory with the Avro period at Newton Heath ending forever.



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