Impact of British Aerospace Closure – by David Williams

The one other thing I would say about local history which did have a very strong impact on Ham and Petersham was theclosure of British Aerospace.  The factory there had started at the end of the first World War where Ham Urban District Council had very reluctantly said that if the Government really had to have this big emergency aircraft factory that they couldn’t really stand in the way but please would it be just for the duration of hostilities. 

Of course Governments as soon as they get something valuable at the end of the war they don’t need they don’t want to convert it to open space they want to sell it off as a factory, which they did.  It was a car factory for most of the time between the two World Wars, run by Leyland, and then it became anaircraft factory again but eventually in the rationalisation that happened overseveral stages of the aircraft industry in Britain it was closed in 1992 and this had a huge impact on Ham.  There were 5,000 employees at that factory [British Aerospace] at its highest and even when it closed there was something like seven or eight hundred employees living in Ham and the older ones in their 50s never worked again.  It was a devastating blow to our local community here and the levels of deprivation increased noticeably then for a decade and the impact was personal to these families, it wasn’t that visible in an environmental way but it certainly affected the community, it certainly affected the local shops, particularly Ham Parade shops nearby.  The community recovered from that so that was in the end only a temporary downturn.