Finley Structures newsletter 10 - spring 2015 - Page 4

ROF 59


Aycliffe Business Park probably wouldn ’ t be around today if it wasn ’ t for the famous Royal Ordnance Factories which were built here - before the new town of Newton Aycliffe was created - in the 1940s .

ROF 59 was the MoD ’ s top-secret codename for the group of factories in

Aycliffe , where people who ’ d later be dubbed the ‘ Aycliffe Angels ’ risked their lives every day . The huge munitions factories employed some 17,000 workers , mostly women , between 1941 and 1945 and was an extremely important part of the country ’ s war effort . The work was highly dangerous as the women filled bullets and bombs for the boys in the battlefield . There were a number of serious and fatal explosions , with eight women being killed in one blast . Few official records of these accidents exist , perhaps because of the secrecy surrounding the plant , which was infiltrated by several German spies during the War . It ’ s a vitally important piece of British history and Aycliffe heritage which is being brought back to life by the work of Finley Structures . We acquired the old Presswork Metals factory on Aycliffe Business Park more than two years ago . Almost £ 600,000 has been spent on constructing a new 70,000 square foot facility on the site , which has stood empty for more than six years . A further £ 300,000 is to be invested in the fit out of the facility , including a trampoline park , cafe , restaurant and bar , and the facility will also include one of the biggest climbing walls in the country , standing at 20 metres tall , while Rockantics are moving from the town centre to be incorporated into the project . Now , as we approach the 70th anniversary of the end of hostilities , Finley Structures has revealed exciting plans which will help to preserve the building ’ s war-time history . We ’ ve officially named the complex ROF 59 , standing for Royal Ordnance Factory 59 , and staff working there , about 20 of them , will wear overalls , like the Aycliffe Angels did all those years ago . Part of an old railway line , used to transport the munitions to the main railway line which was uncovered during foundation works , will be incorporated into other memorabilia features including a model spitfire and archive photographs from back in the day . Julie Finley said : “ We recognise the important historical significance of the factory and the Aycliffe Angels who used to work there , so we have deliberately retained much of the original brickwork and signage within the building . “ The plan is to create a permanent memorial , and help us to keep educating young people about this important piece of British history . “ Aycliffe Business Park probably wouldn ’ t exist today without the Royal Ordnance Factories , and we feel it ’ s important to preserve that heritage for many years to come .” Consultant Kim Fryer , of Newton Aycliffebased KF Restaurant and Hospitality , has already been appointed by Finley Structures to manage the restaurant development , and