Express & Star

'Proud' Black Country businessman sells his fully-let estate for £7m

An industrial estate originally created by a Black Country businessman to ease the job losses from the closure of the old Round Oak steel works has been sold for £7 million.

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Celebrating, from left, Rachel Dear (mfg Solicitors), Grace Shipley, Tony Whittaker, Ben Rothery (mfg Solicitors), Lynn Whittaker, Shirley Shipley and Steve Whittaker

Tony Whittaker, of Unit 67 Ltd, said that the work of creating a successful estate had now been completed at Delph Road Industrial Estate in Brierley Hill.

"I set out to help create 200 jobs at the start in 1982 and 40 years on it employing more than 400," said 78-year-old Tony who now plans to move on to fresh challenges.

The seven-acre estate, which has 40 fully let units, has been bought by an arm of the giant Telereal Trillium property group. The deal was completed on Tuesday.

The new owners plan to keep the distinctive 64-tonne Chieftan tank that stands proudly at the gates to the estate.

Tony, who was born in Delph Road, is fiercely proud of his Black Country roots – his family have lived at the Delph for 200 years – and said he was determined to help people made redundant from Round Oak when he started the estate which took in parts of an old brickyard, gas works and saw mills.

"It was a derelict site that had been for sale for 10 years.

"We built up the estate from scratch – every bit. Its now complete and our work is done.

"It has been a long hard road with three major recessions, Brexit and Covid to contend with," Tony explained as he and his family – wife,Lyn, son Steven, daughter Shirley Shipley and granddaughter Grace Shipley – celebrated with champagne by the tank.

"I'm ready to move on to other projects," added Tony, who also built the giant Nine Locks and Chainmakers pub – now The Corn Exchange – in Amblecote Road, Brierley Hill in 1983. It was then the biggest pub in the Midlands and was later sold to Greenall Whitley.

Tony, who was famed for flying his own helicopter in and out of the estate, is proud of all the famous names he brought to visit the area including an Archbishop of Canterbury, the late comedian Bill Maynard, who opened the Nine Locks and Chainmakers, and Emmerdale actor Stan Richards.

The former weightlifting champion says he has no plans to retire from the business world and is relishing fresh challenges.

The family also still run Midland Fabric and Bar on the estate with Steven running that as managing director.

Unit 67, which is run from the same premises, also owns the shopping centre in Turner's Lane, Brierley Hill and many other properties.

Tony had special praise for the team from mfg Solicitors in Kidderminster who handled the estate sale.

"Normally this kind of deal would take three months, but they have done a fantastic job to get it all done in just a month,"