RATBY ENGINEERING

PART OF THE OLD DESFORD AERODROME

 

The above photo of Ratby Engineering was taken circa 1970, with the extension to the Machine shop                             just completed. this was just the start of a major redevelopment plan as can be seen when compared with the photograph below.

The Ratby Engineering works,

Peckleton Common,  Leicester.      circa 1980


  The Ratby Engineering Company started life in the Leicestershire village of Ratby from where it took its name.  Shortly after the end of the second World War the company, then owned by the entrepreneurs Turnbull and Boynton moved into redundant premises adjacent to the Desford Aerodrome The large hangers together with their support buildings were previously owned by the Reid and Sigrist Company who in 1935 set up the site known as Desford Aerodrome to train civilian pilots.(ref. "Aviation in Leicester and Rutland" by Roy Bonser)

During the war the site was taken over by the Air Ministry.  

 

 Picture above shows Spitfires being assembled in one of the large hangers on the Desford site

Photograph taken from the book "Aviation in Leicestershire and Rutland

By Roy Bonsor

After the war the aerodrome remained in use for a while training pilots in single engined "Tigermoths"

In the early 1950's the site was split up and part of the Reid and Sygrist site was acquired by the Ratby Engineering Company. I can remember seeing the Reid & Sygrist sign still painted on the side of the hanger from the school bus in 1951 but it could have been acquired a few years earlier.

The major part of this 140 acre site was later to be acquired by the Catapillar Tractor Company, with Ratby Engineering taking approximately 3 acres to the South .

             The end of the war saw the British engineering industry in dire need of revitalization with much of its plant having been worked well beyond its limit. Ratby Engineering did quite well at this time reconditioning machine tools. However by the start of the 1950`s this type of work was becoming scarce and the company began to struggle to keep afloat,

            By good fortune, a much needed contract was signed with the "Gestetner" Company, London, to manufacture and assemble an Offset Duplicating / printing machine. This was a high precision, highly mechanized office unit as shown in the photo below, left. This was a big boost to R.E. Now with the company on a better financial footing ownership was acquired by the Lindusties Group who`s diverse interests included engineering, textiles and plastics. "Lindustries" were in a good position to invest in new plant and production soared. Raw materials delivered "Goods Inwards" machined, assembled and tested, with the finished product crated and dispatched via ..."Goods Out" .                            

                At the height of production over a hundred machines per week were being produced and delivered to customers.

           From here -on the company went from strength to strength taking on new contracts with the Ford Motor Company  turning out crank shafts and clutch units, Seddon Atkinson & York Trailers for commercial brake drums, plus British Rail motor suspension tubes. Production also included Ratby`s own design for the manufacture of the "Porlester" , a trawler fishnet producing machine shown right in the photo below.

 

 

The GESTETNER DUPLICATING MACHINE

 PORLESTER FISHNET MACHINE assembled in the Blister building

             

The Image below was taken from a "Lindusties" quarterly news letter, showing turnover with number of employees per company

 

         

The smaller "HeatingElements" company, a subsidiary within the Lindustries group was later absorbed into Ratby Engineering. Likewise the industrial gas installation company "C. S. Milne" was acquired, as was the "Slydang Modular Bench Company". This continued expansion necessitated the need for an ongoing building program. A new office Block was built, an extension to the Fitting Shop together with a new Tool Room, etc. etc.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                   

At its height Ratby Engineering employed over 430 personal and had a turnover of £3.9MSome time later the Lindustries group came under the wing of Hanson Trust P.L.C. who held the company for several years

But fortunes change, output and profits began to fall. In 1982 Ratby Engineering was acquired by a independent company owned by Mr.`s Emmit & Stoddard, the future appeared brighter.

       

Transfer of the Ratby Engineering business to

    Mr.Emmit & Mr Stoddard      dated   22 / 2/ 1982
 

However the later part of the 1980`s saw a massive decline in output, electronic digital printing saw the demise of the mechanical Gestetner printing machine. The motor commercial industry was placing more and more contracts abroad and Heating Elements ceased trading. So it was in 1993 that Ratby Engineering Company was wound up. The land and buildings were sold to a development company and the remnant of Ratby Engineering as such, was confined to a small rented unit within the site.  So ended this local engineering company, going like so many others involved in manufacture.

 

 Auctioneers Catalogue

1993 Sale of machine tools

 


 Note..... The two items pictured below on the right show that Ratby Engineering also had a active social side  where members could obtain heavily discounted products            
                                   
 

 
   

 company hand book

My Bus pass

 The Gardening Club

 Car Club circa 1970

 

 

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