The Wartime Memories Project - The EKCO Cowbridge Works

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Eric Kirkham Cole Limited (E.K. Cole Ltd), EKCO was begun in 1920's building radio sets in a new factory at Leigh-on-Sea, moving to larger premises at Southend-on-sea in 1930

Just before the out break of war in 1939, EKCo was relocated to Malmesbury, as part of the the Government initiative to disperse production factories to locations in the country in the hope of avoiding enemy bombing. The new factory was situated on the River Avon just outdside of the town in the grounds of a converted country house. The senior personnel and technical staff were transferred from Southend-on-Sea, with the majority of manual workers being recruited from the surrounding area in the early months of the war. The new workers were mainly women, many transfering from a local textile factory, which was closed down at the outbreak of war.

The new EKCO factory specialized in the top secret development and production of radio-location systems (RDF or radar) first used by the coastal chain home stations then developed for the fighters of the RAF and Fleet Air Arm. Various buildings in the town itself were taken over which were know as the Western Development Unit, where the secret development work was carried out..

After the war the factory became a center of production for television sets and later car radios. The factory has changed hands several times and today is a centre for research into mobile telephone technology.


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