Addlestone Site History

The History of the Addlestone site

The site was originally built by Bleriot (he of flying across the Channel fame) to build aircraft. At first this may seem an odd location, but remember that Brooklands, not many miles from here, was the home of both racing and avionics in this country. Incidentally the Booklands Museum is well with a visit. A real visit that is, not just a virtual one.

Bleriot's use of the site did not last very long, and he was followed by Weymans to build busses and coaches. Those who are into transport nostalgia might be intetrested in the fact that the prototype Routmaster busses were built here, though Weymans did not get the production contract.

Weymans closed in the late 50's and for a short while a company called Caddy's built taxis here.

Around 1965 Plessey, who had just taken over part of Decca to establish Plessey Radar, had to move out of Decca's premises at Chessington, and relocated to Addlestone. The inside of A, A5 and B blocks were upgraded to the standards of the day. Later K block was built, and later still L block.

Business names changed. In the early 80's the main business became Plessey Displays, then later merged to become part of Plessey Naval Systems. Other businesses that existed alongside, or spun off, included Plessey Airports.

Around 1990 GEC and Siemens made a successful joint take-over bid for Plessey and divided the spoils among themselves.  We found ourselves part of Marconi Underwater Systems Ltd (a wee bit of an odd title for a business that included air traffic control consoles in its portfolio!). After a few more restructurings the Addlestone business, which by now had had added to it parts of Ferranti, was amalgamated with the GEC-Marconi business at Frimley to form Marconi Command & Control Systems..

With a reduction in the number of staff employed on the site, parts of it had been leased out to other tennents, most notably a firm of archetects.

Then in July 1997, after legthy speculation, it was announced that the site would close.  Most staff transfered to Frimley, some to Farlington, and some were made redundant.  The site closure was completed in March 1998.

The site was demolished in 2001 in order to build a new business park.

A retired employee, Jim Rowe, has written a book about the history of the site (ISBN 0 9518 658 1 1), I do not know if still in print.

On a wider front, I have also been told about a book entitled "Into the Sunrise" a history of Plessey 1917 to 1987 by Berry Ritchie (ISBN 0 907301-x) published by James and James in 1989. It was suggested that its existence was not widely know because it was totally swamped by the Plessey take-over. More recently Hugh Culverhouse has written an authoritive résumé of the history of Plessey.

Several people have written to this site
enquiring about Plessey pensions.
The information we have available is here.