Ark Royal Avenue – a Castleton factory remembered
Date published: 25 February 2018
Naming of Ark Royal Avenue
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Memories of a Castleton factory were recalled as a local street was named after one of the Royal Navy’s famous ships it designed parts for.
The residential street, located off Manchester Road, on the former Whipp and Bourne site, was unveiled as 'Ark Royal Avenue' at noon on Sunday (25 February) by Gregory Cranfield, who served on the Ark Royal.
Sister Frances Clare Guite led the dedication and prayers.
Wreaths were laid by civic dignitaries, members of the armed forces, cadets and children from local schools and uniformed organisations.
Whipp and Bourne, founded in 1903, was synonymous with high class engineering, supplying marine switchgear for giants of the high seas such as the Ark Royal, the Titanic and the Royal Yacht Britannia, and supplied many of the ships used in major battles during both world wars.
The Ark Royal finally being decommissioned from service in the early 1980s.
The naming ceremony was attended by members of the armed forces and cadets, veterans and former Whipp and Bourne employees, and children from local schools and uniformed organisations.
Local MP Liz McInnes also attended along with councillors Billy Sheerin and Jean Hornby, and residents from the new estate.
Former Whipp and Bourne employee, Wing Commander David Forbes MBE DL RAFVR (T) RTD said: “There are some people here today who worked at Whipp and Borne for over 40 years.
“I myself joined Whipp and Bourne as an apprentice in 1955 and left in 1960, so really I started here about 62 years ago.
“If you started work as a Whipp and Bourne apprentice you certainly knew what work was about and what doing the job was about.
“Whipp and Bourne made excellent equipment for both the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy.
"I myself made DC breakers, my first job on joining the factory was to work in the tinning pot, my first day at Whipp and Bourne I was tinning copper strips.
“I graduated from there to working on tests and some of the things I worked on were the switchboards for the Shanty, Eskimo, Zulu, all those tribal-class frigates, and the Hermes.”
Councillor Janet Emsley, Cabinet member for the Armed Forces, said: “It is fitting to name the street after HMS Ark Royal.
"People in Castleton and across the borough remember Whipp and Bourne with fondness and affection.
“As we look to the future, we never forget our proud past. This famous factory is a key part of Rochdale’s heritage and their workers' engineering skills live on thanks to this inspired idea.
“Today we honour those who served and those who died; those who worked in the Whipp and Bourne factory, and those who served on the Ark Royal.
“I am delighted that we can unveil the new heritage signage, as a community we thank those who have served, and it is because of the sacrifice of the many that we have the freedom to stand here today. Lest we forget.”
Councillor Billy Sheerin added: “I was delighted to see so many people for this very special occasion as we celebrated and commemorated the work that was done on the site at Whipp and Bourne.
“I was thrilled to see so many children, they are our future and the future of the village. As a celebration for the children we released balloons.”
Ark Royal Avenue Parade