Issue 151    December 1st   to March 1st 2022




The Chilton Monoplane and Chilton Factory

Cherry Grove, near the lower end of Church Way, was built on the site of the large Chilton Factory, which closed in 1985. But what was the Chilton Factory all about?

The origins of the firm go back to the local estate of Chilton Lodge, before the Second World War.

Two bright entrepreneurs at this time who had met as young students at the De Havilland Technical School were the Hon. A.H. Dalrymple and Mr “Reggie” Ward (son of the Hon. Sir John Ward of Chilton Lodge). Along with their woodworking instructor at De Havilland, Mr. Fred Luscombe, they went on to design their own aircraft, the Chilton Monoplane, and they formed, on 18 May 1936, Chilton Aircraft, using a specially constructed wooden building on the Ward’s estate at Chilton Lodge. The first prototype received its authorisation to fly on 13 Apr 1937 and made its inaugural flight on 16 Apr 1937. Another three aircraft were built before the war, the last receiving its authorisation in July 1939.

In 1941 they went over to manufacturing small, machined metal parts for the war effort, under sub-contract to larger firms. Having started in 1938 with two men and a boy, by 1945 Chilton was employing around 250 people working shifts around the clock.

Chilton aircraft went on to make a large number of monoplanes, and sailplanes, but with the death of Andrew Dalrymple on Christmas Day 1945, whilst flying a German Fiesler Storch aircraft over Chilton Park, aircraft manufacture came to an end at Chilton.

In 1946 the firm switched to a rapidly expanding electrical business, including electric shavers, circuit breakers, hair clippers, and the first-ever spin dryers in the UK. Their most successful product was their famous bathroom shaver socket, of which 2,500,000 were made and exported world-wide.

By the mid-1950s the buildings at Chilton Lodge had become totally inadequate, and a new factory was built in Hungerford. At its peak in the mid-1960s there were over 400 people on the Chilton group payroll.

In 1969 it became Ottermill Chilton, and in the mid-1970s it was taken over by the Westinghouse Corporation.

During the mid-1980s Westinghouse transferred all the manufacturing to Ireland, and the factory closed in November 1985, the site being sold for housing (Cherry Grove).

For much more on this or any other aspect of Hungerford’s fascinating history, visit the Hungerford Virtual Museum – 

Hugh Pihlens