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Trafford Park
Third Avenue/Eleventh Street, Trafford Park Village, Greater Manchester, UK
associated engineer
None relevant
date  1896
era  Victorian  |  category  Factory/Industrial Plant  |  reference  SJ796966
Greater Manchester's Trafford Park opened in 1896 and is regarded as the first dedicated industrial estate, although Broadheath Industrial Park, also in Mancheser, was begun a decade earlier. It is still thought to be the world’s largest estate of its type and at its peak 70,000 people worked in the various industrial complexes on the site.
The industrial park covers some 12 sq kilometers and is bounded by the River Irwell, the Bridgewater Canal (1761) and the Manchester Ship Canal. The industrial estate owes its existance to the last of these three, for the building of the ship canal (1894) brought instant access to sea trade routes to this part of Manchester, which was already well-served by the railways that linked industry to raw materials round the country.
Most of the site, which lies opposite Salford across the ship canal, was formerly a deer park attached to Trafford Hall (destroyed by World War II bombing), the family seat of the de Trafford family. When the Manchester Ship Canal was proposed for this location, the current landowner, Sir Humphrey de Trafford, opposed it, though this had little effect as the Parliamentary Bill enabling the works was passed in any case. In the event, construction did not begin until after Sir Humphrey's death.
The deer park was purchased by financier Ernest Terah Hooley for £360,000 on 23rd June 1896. In August, he set up Trafford Park Estates Ltd. Early in the following year, the general manager of the Manchester Ship Canal, Marshall Stevens, became managing director of Trafford Park Estates. Both men were convinced that industry would soon take up the opportunities the industrial estate presented, though the ship canal had been open for two years already and as yet little interest had been shown. They set had set up leaseholding arrangments for estate sites. While they waited for takers, they developed their own projects, such as the conversion of the Hall into an hotel and the leasing of the parks' lake for boating.
The earliest engineering complex to set up at Trafford Park was the British Westinghouse Electric Company works (built 1899-1902), manufactoring turbines and generators. The huge plant very quickly employed more than 6,000 people and remained an important industrial complex in this country for nearly a century. Its tall red brick office building was modelled on Westinghouse's headquarters in Pittsburgh, USA. The UK company became Metropolitan-Vickers and produced munitions during World War II. The foundries and machine shops have been demolished but the Hotpoint building remains.
Among the early takers for sites at Trafford Park were the Manchester Patent Fuel Company (1898), the Trafford Brick Company, timber merchants J.W. Southern & Co, enginers James Gresham and the Co-operative Wholesale Society (flour mill and food packing, 1903). The W.T. Glovers & Co cable manufacturing works, now Trafford Park Cable works, also dates from this early period. Its building features a long frontage with tall gable-roofed workshops at the end and in the centre.
Early on Hovis built wooden grain silos. The present Trafford Park Flour Mill has square grain elevator towers with office buildings between, and separate round tank silos.
Manchester’s first aerodrome opened in the park in 1911. The Mosley Road factory that built bomber aircraft during World War II is still in use. The Ford motor works of 1911-31 introduced assembly line production in 1914. It made aero engines during World War II but has since been demolished. British Alizarine Co, later incorporated into ICI, opened a factory in the 1920s. The 1938 Kellog’s factory had its own grain wharf on the Bridgewater Canal and a fleet of barges.
Other companies with premises on site included the biscuit makers W. & R. Jacob & Co. Ltd and the Lancashire Dynamo & Motor Company. Lancashire Dynamo was taken over by the General Electric Company but the factory closed in 1967.
The housing in Trafford Park Village was developed (1899-1904) by Trafford Park Dwellings Ltd and Westinghouse for the industrial estate’s workers. It follows the American pattern of numbers used as street names. The village had some 700 houses and associated shops, baths, schools, churches and recreation grounds by 1904.
Trafford Park Heritage Centre is situated in the converted primary school of St Anthony’s RC Church. It contains a photographic archive showing the development of the village. The park has a large memorial to Marshall Stevens inscribed “To whose foresight, energy and ability, the successful development of Trafford Park as an industrial area is due”.
Trafford Park became an Enterprise Zone August 1981, to encourage redevelopment. Between 1987 and 1997 it was run by Trafford Park Development Corporation. Light engineering companies and retailers now occupy the majority of buildings on site.
Research: PD, ECPK, JJ
"A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Greater Manchester"
by Robina McNeil and Michael Nevell
Association for Industrial Archaeology, 2000

Trafford Park