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British Industrial History

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National Aircraft Factory No 4

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Oldham Aircraft Factory

N.B. there is some question as to whether this factory was ever numbered as a National Factory/

Construction started: 1 March 1918 (on new buildings). Contractor: Trollope and Colls Ltd. Original function: cotton mills at Hollinwood (Gorse Mill No.2) and at Shaw (Lilac Mill). Opened: July 1918. Management: Alliance Aeroplane Co Ltd. Products: Partially assembled ten Handley Page 0/400 aircraft.

In June 1917, an Aircraft Production Board had been set up in America and the Bolling Commission sailed for Europe to gain information for an American aircraft programme. The mission had recommended in July, for the production of Caproni bombers and later, that consideration should also be given to the Handley-Page bomber. In London, the Chief of Air Staff, Hugh Trenchard, devised a plan in January 1918, for incorporating American crews as well as British, thus creating an inter-Allied bombing force using Handley Page 0/400 bombers. Contracts were therefore awarded to the Standard Aircraft Company for 500 HP bombers, most of these were to be shipped over for final assembly in Britain. The metal fittings for 1,000 sets of aircraft were to be manufactured by the Grand Rapids Airplane Company. Later the order was increased to 2,000, 0/400 bombers and in September, the first American-built 0/400 was delivered to the American Air Service. A site for the final assembly of American-built aircraft, was found in Oldham, where there was a large female workforce normally engaged in the Lancashire cotton industry. On grounds of cost, and the labour question, it was decided to requisition the Gorse Mill (No. 2), Hollinwood, and the Lilac Mill at Shaw. It was also decided to erect a number of buildings for aircraft assembly and to provide an Aircraft Acceptance Park. The work of construction began in February, and the Alliance Aeroplane Company (Waring and Gillow Ltd.) were appointed as managers. Progress of construction was slow and it was not until July 1918 that the first floor of Gorse Mill was occupied. The first shipments of parts arrived on 20 August and by the November Armistice, only 10 aircraft had been partially assembled.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • National Factory Scheme [1]