Such was the state of both the region’s economy and its industry in the 1930s that Stanley Baldwin’s Tory-led National Government (1935-37) took pity on the area, and decided to site
first purpose-built industrial estate near Gateshead.
The huge concern that was the resultant Team Valley Trading Estate proved to be
a resounding success, and still flourishes today.
Unlike the present-day, once the decision was made they didn’t mess about. The largely rural banks of the River Team were quickly surveyed over an intense eight-week period during July-September 1936, and the contract for the laying of the infrastructure awarded to George Wimpey & Co. in October (for £80,000 – around £4 million in today’s money). Work began on 6th November that very same year.
The contract stipulated that the first factory should be opened within 11 months – and it was. In October 1937, Orrell and Brewster Ltd, haulage contractors, moved into the first factory to be opened on the estate. Subsequent demand for units was much greater than anticipated, and within a few more months over 70 factories had been built, opened and let. More than 7,000 much-needed jobs were up for grabs.
22nd February 1939,
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth travelled north to formally open the Team
Valley Trading Estate. More than 500 folk turned up for the occasion, and a
commemorative plaque was unveiled.
And the site has never looked back since. Now more than 700 businesses employ over 20,000 workers. It is truly one of the North-East’s great success stories.
Some fabulous images here (note: one or two of the dates quoted in the captions are slightly inaccurate).