full screen background image

50 years ago in Salford: War-winning electrical wonder firm packs up for Eccles

1,000 members of staff were on the move 50 years ago this week as the Salford Electrical Instruments factory on Silk Street shut down for good.

The company was founded by Mr H. Cobden Turner in 1922 and occupied a former mill in the heart of Salford’s Trinity district

Cobden Turner was an inventor of international fame most notably the radio proximity fuse.

This device was manufactured at the Salford works during the Second World War and was an invaluable counter to the dreaded German flying bombs such as the V1 and V2.

After the proximity fuse came into use, 90 per cent of the flying bombs were destroyed in the air and civilian casualities fell dramatically.

Interestingly enough the company played a big part in the development of radar with some of the earliest experiments being conducted on the roof of the main building tracking vehicles moving along nearby Silk Street.

Confirming the transfer plan to the Salford City Reporter a company spokesman said: “Leaving Salford is for us a matter of great regret a question of force majeure rather than policy decision.

“We are hoping to retain as many as possible of our staff.”

Most of the work at Silk Street by the 1960s was the assembly of electronic measuring instruments.

It would appear that the company’s decision to move to Eccles was precipitated by the floor collapse of the factory in March that year when hundreds of workers fled the building in panic.

Read: 50 years ago in Salford: Hundreds escape Silk Street factory collapse

The Salfiord Electrical Instruments building was over one hundred years old at this time and there were no plans to rebuild on the site.

The new premises in Eccles were on Barton Lane, over four acres on the site of the old Jonex Mills.

It was announced that they would be making small electrical components including capacitors, thermostats, telecommunications equipment, rectifiers and potentiometers.

Soon the company would be employing between 1,000 – 1,500 people. Most came across from Silk Street but many local people were to find employment there.

Sadly this building would close in the early 1980s and is now the site of an industrial estate which employs a handful of people as compared to its heyday in the late 1960s.

Facebook Comments

SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.