Iconic Corby Weetabix factory set for wrecking ball after site sells for £3 million

The well-known factory, built in the 1960s, is the latest in a line of historic industrial buildings set for demolition

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 8:12 am
The former Weetabix factory in Earlstrees Road. Image: JPI Media.

Another of Corby's landmark manufacturing buildings looks set to be demolished.

The Weetabix 2 factory, formerly British Sealed Beams, in Earlstrees Road is to be flattened by its new owners MPB Contractors, who bought it for a whopping £3 million at the end of last year.

Although no plans have yet been submitted for a replacement, the site looks destined for housing. Work to empty the machinery from the building has already begun.

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Work has already begun to remove some of the equipment from the factory. Image: JPI Media.

The proposed demolition comes in the same month that the former steelworks administrative block in Weldon Road was pulled down by MPB - a huge Corby-based firm that specialises in re-developing industrial sites across the country.

The factory has been empty since 2019 when Weetabix consolidated its Corby operations into its other, more modern site, also on the Earlstrees Industrial Estate.

The land was originally sold by the Brudenells of Deene Park to Lloyds Ironstone Company 90 years ago, in June 1931 and then to the Corby Development Corporation in 1957 when it became part of the new town. The British Sealed Beams factory was built about three years later where car headlamps and bathroom lights were manufactured. It was open for just 17 years before the headlamps demand for its products waned. More than 530 people lost their jobs when it shut.

Later, Weetabix moved in to begin food manufacturing on the site.

The factory originally manufactured headlamps.

Local historian and former councillor Dennis Taylor, who has run several campaigns to save some of Corby's industrial landmarks, used to use the beams as spotlights when he was a DJ. He said he was saddened by the loss of another part of Corby's modern-day history. He said: "This is another part of our town's past that's gone. It's a shame.

"They let them reduce to rubble the oldest industrial buildings in Corby - the brick kilns in Phoenix Parkway that were used during the building of the Gretton railways tunnel in the 1870s.

"In my view Corby Council and the Development Corporation over the years haven't really recognised the industrial heart of Corby.

"The Corporation pulled down historic houses in the Old Village to build the properties that are there now.

A gaping hole has already been gouged out of the front of the building. Image: JPI Media.

"They knocked down a work of art on the side of the bus station that turned out to be worth £60,000.

"They allowed the scrap man to come and take most of the Spirit of Corby away. If I hadn't have got funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund that would have gone too.

"It's a part of what we are.

"British Sealed Beams cared for its workers and had a great social club, where Hooke Close is built now."

The factory just after it was built in the early 60s, looking almost identical to how it looks today.

MPB, through a planning consultant called Barmach, have submitted a schedule of works to the new North Northamptonshire Council to determine whether planning permission is needed to demolish the building. If the proposal goes ahead, demolition will not start until June 1.

The firm did not respond to requests for comment from reporters.