« Previous Next »

Hopewell Drive

Technical Information

Catalogue No: PC01622
Picture Type: Rochester Photo Negative
Topic: Sites / Facilities
Title: Hopewell Drive
Date: 6 Jun 1975
Width (mm): 127
Height (mm): 102
Copies: 1
Location: Negatives Cabinet PC ("C" Negs) [RAA Office]

The company's training centre at Hopewell Drive is shown in this photograph as the light brown brick building with a very shallow single apex roof. In 2022 this building still existed and was being used by Wealden Rehab.

There have been a number of piecemeal additions to the Rochester site after a long period of stability with the Hangars and Assembly Shops together with a miscellany of buildings up at the South end of the Airport. The first major additions were in the early 1960s when the three Towers were constructed and completed by 1966. At the same time the offices along the South side of the Assembly factory were made double storey.

As the business expanded various sites around Rochester and Chatham were acquired, such as the New Road Building for the research centre (FARL), Hopewell Drive for a Training School, and Gads Hill in Gillingham for a Drawing Office and an ATE (eg D-LASAR) group plus, for a few years, a small project engineering group (WFG2) and the EMC Test facility.

The next new building was the Corsair Building, named after the A-7 Corsair HUD programme, which was opened in 1978 on the South side of the site. This was a largely prefabricated construction estimated to have a lifespan of some 15 years but it was still standing in 2022. By 1980 the new Phase III Building dedicated to the growing business in flight controls was operating, and finally on that strip of land the Falcon Building, for the growing research and development of diffractive optical elements, was completed in 1983.

As the business began to contract in the 1990s the outpost buildings were closed down and some considerable refurbishment was done on the main site. The Restaurant was developed into a modern facility and the Towers had significant improvements such as new windows and air-conditioning.

However the basic structure of the site is showing its age and in reality most of the buildings are not suitable for the modern era. The Hangars in particular are very expensive to maintain. An attempt was made in 2004 to plan for a glossy new factory complex but nothing came of that.  More recently the site management has been looking at a site transformation that would replace the older buildings with modern office and manufacturing facilities, and the planning for this is progressing well.

Click to enlarge