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Report - - Midland Electric Manufacturing - Tyesley - Birmingham - Oct/Nov 2017 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Midland Electric Manufacturing - Tyesley - Birmingham - Oct/Nov 2017



Speed

Got Epic?
Staff member
Moderator
#1
Final closure of the Reddings Lane MEM (or latterly 'Eaton Electric') factory has been on the cards for as long as i have frequented Birmingham. Indeed all indications from conversations with old workers from the area suggest that the factory has been pretty much empty for years with just a skeleton crew remaining manufacturing a few niche products. Myself and @dweeb have been eyeing it up with increasing interest over the last year or two as our sources suggested it was ready to wind down and close for good. It has been a bit of a frustrating one really, rumours circulated of epic tool rooms and lost parts of the factory that had simply been left and locked up untouched for years on end. In the end these didn't seem to materialise which was a bit of a disappointment but non the less we found some bloody good stuff in there worthy of our efforts.


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Various MEM Brochures


MEM was founded and started manufacturing switch gear not long after electricity started to be used in meaningful quantities. They originally had a factory 'The Stafford Works' on Barford Street in Digbeth. In 1936 however they took over this site which was formally the Rudge Whitworth Cycle factory. They built a large extension to the front of the building with its distinct tower sometime before 1953. At the rear of the site there was once a foundry that cast the electrical switch boxes but this was demolished and made into a car park before Eaton took over 15 or so year ago.

gracesguide said:
Midland Electric Manufacturing Co (MEM) of Reddings Lane, Tyseley, Birmingham, and of 25 Old Street, London, EC1 (1937)

1908 Company founded by Walter Leonard Barber at 108 Conybere Street to make electrical appliances.

Later moved to the Stafford Works, Barford Street, Birmingham.

1926 Public company.

1936 Took over the former Rudge-Whitworth factory in Reddings Lane. They employed around 1,000 persons.

1937 Electric switchgear manufacturers.[1]

1961 Manufacturers of switch, fuse and motor control gear and high efficiency electric fires and convectors. 1,500 employees.

1961 Occupied a new factory at Holyhead, Anglesey, in response to labour shortage in Birmingham[2]

1969 Another new factory was to be built at Washington New Town[3]

1971 Taken over by Delta Metal Co[4]

2003 Electrical Division of Delta acquired by Eaton Corporation of USA, including the MEM, BILL and Holec brands
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The site in 1935 before MEM took it over
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The site in 1952 After MEM had added their extensions​


The time window has been exceedingly tight here. They started demolishing the more modern half of the site before the older bit at the front had even closed. The demo team moved in to that half literally the day the workers moved out. It was a Tuesday if i remember rightly! We had to wait until the Sunday to get in ourselves. Unfortunately In the 4 or so days we missed the asbestos guys had been in and ripped apart a lot of the main event, the epic deco tower with its wood panelled entrance lobby, globe lights and 'top of the tower' conference room was pretty trashed but still had some gems hidden.

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The main shop floor

The explore was actually a bit of a comedy one. We rocked up early before sunrise and attempted to enter at the front of site. It didn't really work out so we had to try around back where security could be seen milling about. Now daylight we didn't stand much chance of getting across the no mans land of rubble unseen but luckily the resident Nigerian gentleman didn't seem too arsed that we were there uninvited. We simply waved our cameras in the his face while he spoke African on the phone to someone and we headed in through an open door. It didn't seem like the explore was going to last too long at this point so it was game on to rush around the place snapping as we went before his boss would inevitably turn up.. The minutes passed, 15, 30, and hour and nothing. He just didn't seem to care. By that point we had found the good stuff tho. The building was a tad disappointing in parts but when we discovered the entire company archive was sitting abandoned on pallets in the middle of the shop floor we just sat down and started looking through all the stuff. Paperwork, old photos, trade brochures, you name it it was in there. We totally ignored the building itself after this and just rummaged in this one spot.. An hour or two later we emerged from the same door once more waving at our African friend across the rubble as we left.

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Old Panelwork, Globe Lights and Parquet

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A similar scene in the 1930s


Demolition has moved on fast over the last two weeks, we returned a couple of times but the site is now totally stripped and the buildings half down with little left to see unfortunately. This can go out in public straight away as i think theres little chance of goons making much you tube money here. I have to apologise that theres no more pictures. The initial rush around and subsequent rummaging put pay to that. Hopefully its worth a report tho. Tis kind of the point of this game!

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The management conference room today

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And in the 1930s (looking the opposite way!)


The Factory

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Baggy trousers

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#3
That's pretty epic that.. shame it got flattened so fast! Unusual too.. what are the plans for the land?
Well done to the pair of you for getting it done!
Will Dweeb be banging a report up?
 

dweeb

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
#6
Indeed, lots of promise and little to show in the end.

One of those places that has the skeleton crew working in one end while the nibbler is busy at the other.

I relent the passing of the place to be honest. One of the few well maintained ancestral businesses in the area with its fine deco factory. With this and Tucker's gone there aren't many left like this. As Speed said in the report MEM had been making switch gear since Electricity was in its infancy and there are few buildings built from the 30's - 90's without one of their products making an appearance somewhere.
All to make way for some toy town houses and a Muslim faith schools apparently. When Tyseley is supposed to be Birmingham's manufacturing hub I find the loss of industrial land deplorable.
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
#8
Brill as per. Loving the comparison photos. I always look at comparisons but have not as yet included them. Love this alot.:D
 

Baggy trousers

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#9
Dweeb, it's kinda funny too as I heard talk that the Pm's in the Midlands today talking about bringing back industry to the Midlands in a big way investing 4 billion quid into . Certainly seems that isn't the case!
 

host

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#10
Another really well covered report, Gutted it got torn down so fast i would of love to have seen this one..
 

Speed

Got Epic?
Staff member
Moderator
#11
Dweeb, it's kinda funny too as I heard talk that the Pm's in the Midlands today talking about bringing back industry to the Midlands in a big way investing 4 billion quid into . Certainly seems that isn't the case!
It is pretty much the case, just not so much with this place... Eaton are still going, they have simply moved their business into more modern buildings elsewhere, like i say production here was wound down to virtually nothing years ago, it makes little sense for them to be in such a big place with what was left. Rolls Royce have done the same with their factories in the area and theres probably a few others doing similar things too. I think the days of having large factories in the city are going and as far as i can see its not a particularly bad thing. What is a bit shit is that they are demolishing all these buildings from this era without a thought to their heritage etc. It seems its all the rage to keep Victorian stuff if its in a nice area but before too long all the 1930/50s stuff will be gone..
 

dave

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#12
Well recorded before it has all gone. Will the archives get thrown out or will someone come along and maybe save it looks like some gems there amongst the old photos etc.
 

Electric

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#14
Brilliant report Speed. The old catalogues and photos are great.
Proper, well made electrical gear. I have fitted and still use some of those switches at home.