- Slough Trading Estate
The Slough Trading Estate founded in
Slough, Berkshirein 1920, was the UK’s first business park.Fact|date=January 2008
According to the estate's owners and operators,
SEGRO(formerly Slough Estates plc) [ [http://www.sloughte.com/park/STE SEGRO website] ] , Slough Trading Estate comprises convert|486|acre|km2 of commercial property in Slough and provides convert|7500000|sqft|m2|abbr=on of accommodation to 500 businesses and has a working population of circa 20,000 people. Slough Trading Estate is the largest industrial estate in single private ownership in Europe.' [ [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmbills/001/17.pdf Slough Estates petition to Parliament, Crossrail bill 2005-06] ] There are over 600 buildings. The Estate is home to 400 tenants from countries including America, Italy, Japan, Germany and Korea supporting 20,000 jobs. Companies using the park include Centricaplc, Yell, Electrolux, GlaxoSmithKline, Mars Confectionery, ICI Paints, and Sara Lee. It is also home to important small, medium and large businesses.
The estate’s power station supplies heat and power to the entire industrial site. [ [http://www.sloughheatandpower.co.uk/ Slough Heat and Power webpage] ]
"Langley Business Park" and "Langley Business Centre" are other thriving business estates in Slough, with other companies, industries and enterprises found throughout the borough.
In June 1918, land to the west of Slough (then in
Buckinghamshire) and adjacent to the Great Western Railwaymain line, mainly forming part of CippenhamCourt Farm [p28, "Slough - A Century of Change", Peter Burgess and Judith Hunter, Nonsuch pocket edition, 2005] but also including the site of an isolation hospital [p62, "Around Slough in old photographs", Judith Hunter and Karen Hunter, Budding Books, 1998] , was bought by the government to form a motor repair depot for army transport. The depot was intended to receive broken down vehicles by train from the battlefront, repair them, and return them to service. [ [http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1839663 Slough Trading Estate, Everything2.com, accessed 1 January 2007] ]
The project was not regarded as a success. The depot was believed to be so urgent that construction work (eventually by construction company
Sir Robert McAlpine) [ [http://www.arborfieldhistory.org.uk/WW1/WW1_Motor_Depot.htm The Reading 'Mercury' and the Home Front in WW1] ] began in July 1918 without harvesting the crops on the land, but the site was still under construction when the armistice was agreed in November 1918 [p 109, "The History of Slough", Maxwell Fraser, Slough Corporation, 1973] .
Although the depot's fundamental purpose went with the end of the war, General Jan Smuts proposed a post war use for the depot which was implemented. Rather than scrapping the many army surplus vehicles, they were sent to Slough for repair prior to sale. [p 109, "The History of Slough", Maxwell Fraser, Slough Corporation, 1973] Because of this use, for many years (until at least the 1980s), the site was known locally and colloquially as 'the dump', and at the time of the depot's development it was also known as 'The White Elephant'. Relations between management and workforce were so poor that at one point the entire workforce was sacked [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,760751,00.html "Wal's Work", Time Magazine Feb. 20, 1939] ] .
In April 1920, the Government Surplus Disposal Board sold the 2.7 square kilometre (600 acre) site and its contents (17,000 used cars, trucks and motorcycles, and 170,000 square metres (1.8 million sq ft) of covered workshops) for over seven million pounds. Sir Percival Perry, who had effectively established the British operations of the
Ford Motor Companyand who had been appointed Assistant Controller of the UK government's Agricultural Machinery Department during the war [ [http://www.seriouswheels.com/art-Ford-Europe.htm Ford in Europe: The First Hundred Years, seriouswheels.com, accessed 1 January 2007] ] , and Sir Noel Mobbs, led the group of investors who acquired the depot, establishing the Slough Trading Co. Ltd.
Repair and sale of ex-army vehicles continued until 1925 when the Slough Trading Company Act was passed allowing the company (renamed
Slough Estates Ltd) to establish the world's first Industrial Estate. The existing army buildings were tenanted as factories, and additional units were built. Those on the Bath Road and Farnham Road frontages were designed with fundamentally uniform simple Art Decooffices on the front. Shared facilities were provided for workforce and employers, including a fire station, restaurant [p118, "Around Slough in old photographs", Judith Hunter and Karen Hunter, Budding Books, 1998] , shops and banks, a large community centre(1937) and the Slough Industrial Health Service (1947). [p 109, "The History of Slough", Maxwell Fraser, Slough Corporation, 1973]
Early businesses established on the trading estate included
Citroën(1926), Gillette, Johnson & Johnsonand High Duty Alloys [p15, "Memories of Slough", True North Books, 1999] . In 1932, they were joined by Mars Ltd and Berlei (UK) Limited. In late 1933 the Slough Estates Journal reported there were 'more than 150 companies' based on the estate [cite book|last=Cassell|first=Michael|title=Long Lease!, The Story of Slough Estates 1920 - 1991|publisher=Pencorp Books|location=London|date=1991] .
As the Trading Estate grew despite the depression of the 1920s and 1930s, people were attracted from all over the country to come and find work in Slough. But the fast increase in population resulted in a shortage of housing.
One solution was the construction of Timbertown,an estate of wooden single storey houses built adjacent to the site occupied by the Community Centre and now occupied by
Herschel Grammar School.
From the outside, the houses looked like an army barracks, but inside they were spacious and comfortable - with 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, a big kitchen and a living room. At the start, Timbertown was well cared for a popular community, with a shop, social hut and even a Sunday school. But the buildings soon started to deteriorate. The wooden houses had never been intended to be permanent and Timbertown was finally demolished in the 1930s to make way for new buildings.
Until 1973, the estate had a railway directly linking the factories to Britain's railway system. A passenger service ran from Paddington and Slough stations to a separate station (accessed by a spur from the main line, separate from the freight access to the estate), [map V and caption, "Slough to Newbury", Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith, Middleton Press, Midhurst, 2000] until 1956 [picture 80 and caption, "Slough: A Pictorial History", Judith Hunter & Isobel Thompson, Phillimore & Co, Chichester, 1991] .
In January 2008, the estate's
power stationwas sold to Scottish and Southern Energy. [ [http://www.scottish-southern.co.uk/SSEInternet/index.aspx?id=11384&TierSlicer1_TSMenuTargetID=1364&TierSlicer1_TSMenuTargetType=1&TierSlicer1_TSMenuID=6 Scottish and Southern complete acquisition of Slough Heat and Power] accessed 5 January 2008]
In popular culture
Ricky Gervais/ Stephen Merchantcomedy "The Office", is set on Slough Trading Estate. The opening sequence shows several locations in Slough and an office building on the Trading Estate where fictional paper merchants Wernham Hoggare supposedly located.
SEGRO"(formerly Slough Estates Ltd/plc)"
Notes and References
* [http://www.sloughte.com/STE/ Slough Trading Estate] Accessed December 31, 2006
* [http://www.segro.com/segro SEGRO Official Website]
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