Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, September 6, 1999 Published at 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK

UK: Scotland

Spitfire gun sight factory knocked down

The factory made gun sights for the Spitfire in World War Two

Demolition has begun on the site of a former Ferranti factory in Edinburgh to make way for a new multi-million pound development.

Plans to redevelop the site as a Marconi Electronic Systems centre for advanced radar design and manufacture were announced earlier this year.

The plant has been home to airborne radar work since World War Two and has been responsible for the equipment used in numerous Royal Air Force fighters including the Spitfire, Buccaneer and Sea Harrier.

It opened in 1943 and was owned by Ferranti, before becoming the home for Marconi Electronic Systems Avionics Division.

Spitfires and Hurricanes

The firm said the redevelopment of the site would help its Radar and Countermeasure Systems Division maintain its position as a world class aerospace company.

It was recently awarded the contract for the ECR 90 radar system, the most advanced in the world.

Dr John Reid, the Secretary of State for Scotland, was present as demolition work got under way.

David Lockwood, Managing Director of Marconi Avionics, said: "We have set demanding targets for our future business performance that can only be achieved through a close partnership with our employees, combined with investment in world class technology and facilities."

Ferranti was a Manchester-based company, which built Crewe Toll to manufacture Gyro Gun Sights for the RAF during World War Two.

The wartime output of gyro gun sights exceeded 9,500, with most going to equip the guns of Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft.


The gun sight was described in a secret memo at the end of the war as "the single most important equipment" introduced during the war.

At the end of the war the factory faced closure, as there was no longer a need for the sights.

But the management diversified the plant to make broken thread detectors for the textile industry, scalpel blades and a toy film strip projector made under licence to Enid Blyton.

Over the years, Ferranti in Edinburgh pioneered the development of much of the airborne radar and navigation equipment used in military aircraft worldwide, opening new sites in the city, as it needed to expand.

In 1990, GEC acquired Ferranti and re-named the company GEC-Ferranti, and the company is now known as Marconi Electronic Systems.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Relevant Stories

23 Dec 98 | The Company File
GEC prepares for defence merger

Internet Links

Marconi Electronic Systems

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Sport
Collins calls it a day for Scots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Death inquiry anaesthetist barred

Bowled over by Lord's

Ministers loosen purse strings

'Delight' at Tunnel court outcome

From Sport
Derby double swoop fails

Demands for far-reaching information bill

Gaelic makes sound use of the internet

Trusts 'ignoring' depression advice

BBC Scotland - On Air

'Little change' since poverty pledge

Nine hurt as bus crashes into pub

Teachers' union in pay body challenge

Dental death hearing adjourned

Parliament ponders Royal High flit

Reid quits PR job

Industry misses new trains target

Football and royalty dominate Westminster

From Sport
The next Battle of Britain

Man charged with murdering lab technician

Lockerbie trial judges named

Festival award for Ratcatcher