Potential buyers may already have former Spitfire parts factory in Gloucestershire in their sites

A 10-acre-plus former factory site at Stonehouse could soon have a new future, as interest in the site gathers momentum.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published

Potential buyers are beginning to circle a former aerospace factory at Stonehouse which once made vital parts for the World War II legend that is the Spitfire airplane.

If initial interest is anything to go by, the former SKF factory at Stonehouse – home to nearly 200 staff until recently – could soon have a new future.

In the hands of property expert Bruton Knowles, the ‘substantial manufacturing premises’ – spanning 215,000 square feet over 10.43 acres – is already in the sights of a few parties, it seems.

If the Gloucester-based property agent can find a new buyer it would be a remarkably quick turnaround for a building that was a thriving home for engineering firm SKF, and 200 of its staff, until its closure in May 2019.

‘We have had a lot of interest in it. It is unusual – a good size site in a good location for the M5 motorway too’, said Dorian Wragg, partner and head of commercial property, at Bruton Knowles.

Interest has come from inside and outside the county said Mr Wragg, from potential occupiers and developers.

‘Potentially it could be a residential site too,’ he added, noting its close proximity to Stonehouse town, local schools and other housing developments nearby already underway.

A shortage of commercial space within the county for growing businesses to expand into was helping drive demand, he said.

Former SKF Factory Stonehouse from Bruton Knowles on Vimeo.

The Oldends Lane factory was established in the 1930s as a subsidiary of Essex-based Hoffman Manufacturing, which moved its operations to Gloucestershire after its Chelmsford site was attacked by the Luftwaffe.

Stonehouse was considered beyond the range of Germany’s bombers and also stood at the junction of the Great Western Railway (running East to West) add the Midland railway (North to South).

In 1969 the three major British bearing company’s, Ransome & Marles, Hoffman and Pollards were brought together by the Government to form RHP.

That went on to become the company’s aerospace division, concentrating on bearings for aircraft engines, gearboxes and control systems before being bought by its current owners in 2005.

SKF announced in December 2018 it planned to consult its staff on the closure of the site, as part of a wider consolidation of the group’s aerospace manufacturing footprint in Europe – with the group having a footprint in 130 countries and an estimated 17,000 distributor locations worldwide.

More recently Gloucestershire site supplied bearings to the likes of GE, Rolls-Royce Engines, Pratt and Whitney.

By Andrew Merrell

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