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Report - Ferranti Wythenshawe/Atlas Business Centre, Manchester - December 2011

tweek

meek
Regular User
#1
Ferranti Wythenshawe/Atlas Business Centre, Manchester - December 2011

Visited with fishbrain.

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History

Ferranti or Ferranti International plc was a UK electrical engineering and equipment firm that operated for over a century from 1885 until it went bankrupt in 1993. Known primarily for defence electronics, the Company was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but ceased trading in 1993.

The company had factories in Greater Manchester at Hollinwood, Moston, Chadderton, Waterhead, Derker, Wythenshawe, Cheadle Heath, West Gorton, and Poynton. Eventually it set up branch-plants in Edinburgh, Dalkeith, Aberdeen, Dundee, Bracknell and Cwmbran as well as Germany and the United States (inc. Ferranti International Controls Corporation in Sugar Land, Texas) and several British Commonwealth countries including Canada, Australia and Singapore.​

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I thought it best if I condensed the history to facts that credit Manchester/the Wythenshawe plant directly, rather than lump in everything and confuse the achievements of what was a massively diverse and productive company.

From 1948, the company had begun to develop guided missiles, especially the Bloodhound, at the Moston factory and later at the Wythenshawe factory.

Duncan Sandys, Minister of Supply, opened Ferranti Ltd's new guided weapons factory at Wythenshawe, Manchester, in June. Planning the layout of the 36-acre site had begun in 1950. It cost almost £1.3 million to build and equip the workshop and laboratories.

The work done by Ferranti on guided weapons, including the two marks of Bloodhound, extended over a long period, over many contracts, and over a number of factories. It seems the guided missile work at Wythenshawe provided the guidance and control system for the Bristol- Ferranti Bloodhound ground-to-air missile. Bloodhound was developed by three industrial teams: Bristol (missile and launcher), Ferranti Wythenshawe (guidance and launch control), and Rolls Royce Bristol (ramjets).

In addition, in 1951 Ferranti began selling the first commercially available computer, the Ferranti Mark 1. The first Ferranti Mark I computer was installed at Manchester University. It was the world's first commercially produced computer.

The Ferranti semiconductor development team at Wythenshawe produced the first European silicon alloy junction diode in 1955. Most semiconductor manufacturers were still using germanium as the semiconducting material.

New Scientist Ad - 23 February 1961

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By 1962, Ferranti Ltd installed the world's first process control computer at an ICI chemical plant in Fleetwood, Lancashire. It was an Argus 200 computer, made at the Wythenshawe factory.

In 1970, Ferranti became involved in the sonar field through its involvement with Plessey in a new series of sonars, for which designed and built the computer subsystems. This work later expanded when it won a contract for the complete Sonar 2050. The work was originally carried out at the Wythenshawe factory and then at Cheadle Heath.

The Wythenshawe plant later became the Atlas Business Centre, (the Atlas computer being one of Ferranti's products). The final tenants were removed around 2 years ago.

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Thanks for viewing,
tweek


 

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