Westland 'shadow' factories during World War 2
In addition to new buildings and facilities on the main Westland site at Yeovil, a number of other premises in the town and surrounding area were taken over during World War II and converted for use as machine shops, manufacturing and assembly shops and stores. This was part of a Government policy of dispersing production facilities, to minimise damage in the event of an air attack. The principal ones are listed below.
It should be noted that due to the time that has elapsed it is difficult to identify precise locations and often the detail concerning the nature of the work. A large part of the effort was devoted to Spitfire/Seafire, but by 1942 a great deal of work on other military work was dealt with in this fashion.
Sparrows Agricultural Engineers, Martock, Machine shop
Yeo Brothers Paul, Martock, Machine shop
No. 3 Site, Martock Machine shop
Castleton Caravans, Sherborne, Detail manufacture and sub-assembly
Odeon Cinema, Yeovil, Detail manufacture
Preston Stores, for storage of perishable materials
Southern National Bus Company, Yeovil, Detail manufacture
Nautilus Works, Yeovil, Sheetmetal stores
Moffat Garage, Yeovil, Sub-assembly manufacture
The premises were vacated within a few months after the end of the war.
During the early part of 1940, two existing hangars and a purpose-built hangar on the north side of Doncaster Airport were taken over as part of the Westland Repair Organisation. The No. 1 Hangar which belonged to Doncaster Aero Club was used for the receipt of crashed Lysanders, which arrived on RAF ‘Queen Mary’ type low-loader vehicles, and which were stripped to recover serviceable equipment. When this had been salvaged it was put into stores in No. 2 Hangar. The large No. 3 Hangar was used for complete aircraft repair and rebuilding using the salvaged equipment plus new components supplied from Yeovil. Some of the salvaged items were also sent back to Yeovil for embodiment in new production aircraft.
About 50 employees worked for Westland at this site including several sent up from Yeovil including C. Trigger, P. Shott, E Fogg and T. Poole. Westland’s tenure of this site was short-lived; about nine months after this work had started in mid-1940, the company moved it to Yeovil. The hangars were taken over by Brooklands Aviation who moved from Lindholme to do the same job on Wellingtons.
Another purpose-built factory was erected at Ilchester at the western end of Yeovilton aerodrome, beginning in October 1939. Like Doncaster, it was part of the Westland Repair Organisation dealing with Lysanders, Spitfires and Seafires.
Unlike Doncaster, it continued to be used until 1984 for repair and rebuild work on RAF Sabres and Meteors and RN Gannets, as a paint shop and for work with composite materials and electrical equipment.