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End of an era for iconic factory as demolition begins

By Charlotte Callear | Stafford | News | Published:

Demolition has begun on Stafford’s iconic GEC Measurements factory.

Demolition of GEC measurements in St Leonards Avenue

The site is being bulldozed to make way for a development of nearly 500 homes at St Leonards Avenue, called The Fairway.

The iconic factory building, which GEC took over from the English Electric Company in 1968, has been derelict for some time. Developers St Modwen bought the site in 2002 and secured planning permission for 263 homes in 2010.

In 2015 the firm got planning permission for 194 homes at the rear of the land.

Now an application has been submitted to Stafford Borough Council for 490 homes, which is awaiting a decision.

Demolition of GEC measurements in St Leonards Avenue

A report states: “The purpose of this new outline planning application is to effectively consolidate the previous planning approvals into one planning permission, retaining the same general extent of development previously approved and the principles for the site’s redevelopment.” Deputy council leader Councillor Mike Smith said: “It is always sad to see work go, especially because a lot of people worked there.

“I saw my work and school get knocked down but life moves on. People will add to the town’s population and add to the vibrancy of it as well. People who live near a development quite often oppose it more than support it but this will be good for the area and in the long run I welcome people to the town.”

Ward Councillor Christine Baron said: “People worked at the factory for all of their lives. I know of a gentleman who worked there since he was young and certainly he will be sad to see it go.

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“It may not have been a pretty site but it is somewhere people would go every day and they had a very good social club. It is the end of an era."

Demolition of GEC measurements in St Leonards Avenue

The site employed 2,200 members of staff by the mid-1970s before GEC merged with Alstom in 1989. This was followed by a string of job losses over the following decade.

General Electric (GE) bought Alstom’s power and grid business, including the Stafford operation, in November 2015. It employed 1,700 in the town.

The manufacturing giant moved to Redhill Business Park in the north of the town in 2016.This is now the base for its High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) and Systems operations.

In December last year it was announced that the company’s power division factory at Lichfield Road would be closed and 500 jobs lost as part of a cost-cutting exercise to save £2.5 billion – blaming a fall in demand for new power stations.

Charlotte Callear

By Charlotte Callear
@CCallear_Star

Reporter based at the Express & Star's Wolverhampton head office

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