You are in [Places] [Chilton Factory]
The large electrical factory at the lower end of Church Way opened in 1959, and closed in 1985. During these years it was a very large employer in the town. The site is now the housing development of Cherry Grove.
- The Chilton Monoplane, made at Chilton Lodge 1937-41.
- Chilton Monoplane, taken at Folly Farm Air Show, 11 Sep 2008
- Chilton Monoplane being admired by Gerald Ward, shortly before his sudden death on 23 Sep 2008.
- Ottermill Chilton Factory, c1975
- Aerial view of Chilton Factory, c1982
- Ottermill Chilton Factory, Apr 1986, shortly before closure
- Ottermill Chilton Factory, Apr 1986, shortly before closure
- Glen Culver's Portable Spin Dryer, made by Chilton Electric Products in the 1960s
- A KuB electric shaver, produced by Chilton Electric in the 1960s (with thanks to Roy Froom, Jun 2016. Roy's father, worked for Chilton Electric for a period)
- Site of old Ottermill Chilton factory, Feb 1987 [Ivor Speed].
- Cherry Grove (built 1988), Oct 1994.
The origins of the firm at Chilton Lodge:
The origins of the firm who built the factory go back to the local estate of Chilton Lodge, before the Second World War.
There were many bright entrepreneurs at this time. Locally, two young students at the De Havilland Technical School, the Hon. A.H. Dalrymple and Mr "Reggie" Ward (son of the Hon. Sir John Ward of Chilton Lodge) were two such entrepreneurs.
Building the Chilton Monoplane:
Along with their woodworking instructor at De Havilland, Mr. Fred Luscombe, they went on to design their own aircraft, the Chilton Monoplane, and they formed, on 18 May 1936, Chilton Aircraft, using a specially constructed wooden building on the Ward's estate at Chilton Lodge. The first prototype received its authorisation to fly on 13 Apr 1937 made its inaugural flight on 16 Apr 1937. Another three aircraft were built before the war, the last receiving its authorisation in July 1939.
In 1941 they went over to manufacturing small machined metal parts for the war effort, under sub-contract to larger firms. Having started in 1938 with two men and a boy, by 1945 it was employing around 250 people working shifts around the clock.
Chilton aircraft went on to make a large number of monoplanes, and sailplanes, but with the death of Andrew Dalrymple on Christmas Day 1945, whilst flying a German Fiesler Storch aircraft over Chilton park, aircraft manufacture came to an end at Chilton.
Chilton Electrics (at Chilton Lodge):
In 1946 the firm switched to a rapidly expanding electrical business, including electric shavers (initially the Buk, closely followed by a cheaper version -the Kub), circuit breakers, hair clippers, and the first-ever spin dryers in the UK.
Their most successful product was their famous bathroom shaver socket, of which 2,500,000 were made and exported world-wide.
This all came about under the management of CAF "Jim" Fuller-Shapcott,who joined the firm in 1949 to set up a sales organisation as Chilton Electric Products (CEP).
Chilton Electrics at Church Way:
By the mid 1950s the buildings at Chilton Lodge had become totally inadequate, and a new factory was built in Hungerford.
Jack Williams joined the company as Accounts Manager in 1955, occupying the west wing of Chilton Lodge. He soon moved to the thatched house at te west end of Church Street.
Chilton Aircraft became Chilton Electric Products, which occupied the new factory building in July 1959. See "Bringing Industry to Hungerford", NWN, 12 Feb 1959.
At its peak in the mid 1960s there were over 400 people on the Chilton group payroll.
Glen Culver kindly contacted the Virtual Museum in Oct 2011 with the following information: "My Dad sold these [Portable Spin Dryers] door to door, in Toronto Canada during the early 1960s. He has since left this world , but his elder sister , my Aunt thought I my like it.
I took these photo's today Monday Oct 10th.
Oh, I believe my Dad acquired these units through the Arrow Sewing Machine Co. Ltd. on Vaughan Rd. in Toronto. They are also no longer in business.
PS Believe it or not, I dared to plug it in ..... It works like a dream!!
Chilton produced a regular newsletter / magazine called "Foliat". Follow this link to read the Winter 1968 edition (kindly sent by Martin Phillips, Jan 2020).
In 1969 it became Ottermill Chilton, and in the mid 1970s it was taken over by the Westinghouse Corporation.
Jim Bradshaw kindly contacted the Virtual Museum (Mar 2015) with personal recollections of his time working at Ottermill Chilton 1969-71.
He also sent a pdf of the Ottermill Group brochure, from c1970.
An advert in the Hungerford Festival News, Aug 1976, describes the factory as follows:
"Ottermill Chilton is a member of the Ottermill Group, a subsidiary of the giant Westinghouse Electric Corporation.
The Group specialises in the design, manufacture and supply of medium voltage electrical distribution and control equipment.
Covering the whole field from Industrial Switchboards and Control Panels to products for the domestic market the Group has technical services and production capabilities which cannot be matched by any other single organisation.
Manufactures at the Hungerford factory and marketed under the Chilton brand name are the world famous ranges of Shaver Sockets and Bathroom Light Units which pioneered in Hungerford over 20 years ago.
Ottermill Chilton are also a technically advanced company in the manufacture of miniature and moulded circuits breakers and earthing protection systems.
With its considerable resources, well established reputation, and tight knit organisation, it has clear objectives and looks forward with confidence."
The Closure of Chilton Factory:
During the mid 1980s Westinghouse transferred all the manufacturing to Ireland, and sadly the factory closed in November 1985, the site being sold for housing (Cherry Grove).
Reggie Ward, the founder of Chilton, died ?1985. See "Happy era ends with Chilton founder's death", Jack William's letter to NWN.
Staff re-union party:
In September 2003 around 40 former workers at the factory met for a re-union party. See "Workers' playtime - 17 years on", NWN 25 Sep 2003.
- In HHA Archives: Box of ephemera from Chilton Factory (from Caroline Ree, via Jim Bradshaw, June 2021)
4 x Westinghouse branded “Bear-of-a-clip” clipboards, one containing photo of Racal Environmental Award, 1978; Chilton Newsletter, 1965; Letter from Jack Grove to Harry Lee,15 Jul 1980.
“The Otter” company newsletter, Issue 48, December 1981.
Various technical booklets.
Flip-up card index of internal phone extension numbers.
Box of ~120 slides.
Two “trip switches” – one showing internal construction.
About 15 groups of photographs of various events, visits and functions.
• pyramid pencil sharpener.
• Key wallet
• 2 x Nail clippers
• 4 x leather key case