BAE Chadderton, birthplace of Lancaster bomber, closes

Employees and ex-workers hammer out a banging out ceremony for an engineering plant in Oldham

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An Oldham engineering plant which has been producing aircraft since World War II has shut down.

BAE Systems in Chadderton opened in 1939 as Avro Headquarters, producing one of the most well-known wartime bombers, the Lancaster.

It once employed about 11,000 people but has been closed after being declared "no longer viable".

Manager Steve Kilroy said such was its importance that without it "the country would not be what it is today".

The site was closed with a banging out ceremony, which saw employees and ex-workers hammering out a tribute to the site with tools on the fences and lamp posts around the plant.

Former worker Tracey Rodgers, whose father and brother also worked at the site, said seeing it close was "so sad".

'Reduced workload'

The Chadderton site was home to Large Aircraft In Service Support, the Supply Team and Customer Information Services.

Rows of Lancaster bombers being built at Chadderton The site was the birthplace of the Lancaster bomber

The first aircraft produced there were Bristol Blenheims under licence from Avro, followed by the Avro Manchester twin-engined bomber.

It also produced thousands of Lancasters during the Second World War and many other aircraft including the York, Lincoln and Tudor and, more famously, the Shackleton and the Vulcan.

A spokesman for BAE said the company was "proud of its long association with Chadderton" but that due to "a significant reduction in the site's workload, it is no longer viable to continue to operate out of the site".

About 160 of the 200 workers at the plant have been offered alternative positions at BAE's site in Samlesbury, Lancashire, where all ongoing work has been transferred.

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