Industrial record MCC5306 - The Standard Iron Works, Colchester
|Grid reference||Centred TM 0114 2443 (322m by 272m)|
|Non Parish Area||COLCHESTER, COLCHESTER, ESSEX|
Type and Period (1)
Davey, Paxman and Co. established premises at the Standard Works, Hythe Hill, Colchester in 1865 after moving from a former works in Culver Street <1> (see EHCR 15292). The Ironworks where built on the former site of the Hythe Brickworks (EHCR 15346) established during the 1830 but obviously out of business by the 1860s <2>.
The Standard Works originally specialised in the mass production of horizontal, vertical and semi-portable steam engines and boilers <1>.
Established by Davey, Paxman and Co . in 1865 the company went on to specialise in gas engines, boliers, compressors and later diesel engines (paxmans Diesels) supplying commercial and government organisations (ie the Armed Forces and Bristih rail etc). The company suffered significant levels of redundancy during the 1990s and is now part of the MAN group of companies. The Standard Works at Hythe Hill now covering a 12 acre site first appear on the 1st-4th ed. OS maps, and show a distinct increase in size, from a single to a multi-structured and multi-phased complex of engineering sheds and associated buildings by the early C20. The 1st and 2nd ed map show an internal road called Standard Road which was absorbed into the site during later site enlargements. Extent of survial unclear. The buildings presently on site still broadly conform to the layout depicted on the 3rd and 4th editions. A further site inspection to assess survial of ironworks buildings is needed.<3>
An perpective plan of the Standard works produced in 1866 soon after the site has opened show the entrance (off Standard Rd) next to the office with large attched assembly sheds extending to the south. A combined woodshed and foundry building was located in the NW corner at the Standard Rd/Port Lane junction. A slightly later plan of 1890 shows the expansion of the site northwards toward Standard Rd and the additions of new buildings including a carpenters shop, rivet tower and perpendicular set assemby shop attched to the rear of the office/assembly range <4>.
A site visit during May 2005 confirmed that the majority of the older/original buildings have been replaced by modern steel clad industrial buildings, particularly within the southern half of the site. However, in the northern half of the site the original office range and attached triple range assembly buildings of 1865 survive as does the slighlty later perpendicular set assembly building to the rear (east). A small wash house depicted on the 1866 plan survives to the south-west of the office range while to the north are further workshops with north light roofs probbaly dating to around the early C20. Large Interwar workshops lie to the east of the older ranges within the NE sector of the site. There are proposals that the northern half of the site is to be sold off for redevelopment and therefore all of the buildings mentioned lie empty and awaiting demolition. The original buildings are therefore under extreme risk of demolition unless they can be retained in any future schemes <5>
Associations with the adjacent Hythe Hill Gas works (EHCR 40399) is very likely due to the symbiotic relationship between foundry and gas works
The Standard Ironworks were established by Davey and Paxman on a site at Hythe Hill, Colchester, in 1865. The site was subsequently enlarged to the north by the 1890s and periodically over its lifetime. The Standard Works originally manufactured horizontal, vertical and semi-portable steam engines and boilers and went on to specialise in gas engines, compressors and later diesel engines (Paxmans Diesels) supplying commercial and government organisations (ie the Armed Forces and Bristih rail etc). The Paxmans site at Hythe Hill, presently covering a 12 acre site, appear on the 1st-4th ed. OS maps, and show a distinct increase in size, from a single unit to a multi-structured and multi-phased complex of engineering sheds and associated buildings by the early C20. The 1st and 2nd ed map show an internal road named Standard Road which was absorbed into the site during later site enlargements. The older buildings presently on site still broadly conform to the layout depicted on the 3rd and 4th editions.
Paxmans Diesels suffered a downturn in business during the 1990s resulting in the redundancy of significant percentage of the workforce. This redundancy has effectively divided the site in two, with production (now under ownership of MAN) concentrated in the large modern sheds within the southern half of the site. The northern half of the site, which retains the older buildings now lies redundant, and will soon be placed onto the market for redevelopment.
A recent visit to the site confirmed that the original office range and attached assembley sheds of 1865 still survive weathertight and intact. The office range is in fact currently used to house a huge archive of the company’s history and products. Built onto the rear of the 1865 ranges is a perpendicular range added between1876-90 and to the SW of the office block the original wash house of 1865. The earlier buildings (office block and parallel ranges) are depicted on a perspective drawing of the works dated 1886 and the later rear range on another drawing produced following the enlargement of the site north in 1890 (see enclosed drawings). The proposed sale of this site and the inevitable redevelopment has placed all these buildings at significant risk of demolition.
Limited internal access confirmed that much of the original architectural treatments and spatial integrity survived within the office range and the structural frame/treatments of the assembly buildings survived intact. The later range was built with a substantial timber frame within brick elevations. The frame comprised huge full height principal posts of c.500mm scantling and trusses that spanned a c.25m width with ties beams manufactured from a single piece of timber (no joints). This building is an exceptional purpose-built space.
On a regional level and more specifically within Essex, historic iron foundry sites and buildings have faced high levels of attrition. No historic foundries remain in use (as foundries or in an alternative commercial application) and only a handful of foundry buildings, most of which are at the Atlas Works in Earls Colne, survive to this day. As a comparison the machine shop at the Atlas Works, which is listed grade II, was highly compromised following the demolition of the bulk of the machine shop and hardly compares in terms of integrity and scale to the assembly sheds at Paxmans. Also the office buildings at Atlas although of architectural interest were not as well preserved as those at Paxmans. There are no other comparable foundry sites in Essex retaining the similar diversity of buildings . Production buildings from large sites such as Crittalls, Lake and Elliot, Britannia Works and Bentalls have all been cleared away while the buildings at the Atlas works highly compromised and now converted to residential. This leaves the office and assembly buildings at Paxmans as the only significant surviving C19 foundry buildings left in the county and as such have great significance in terms of historic/architectural value. <5>
- <1> SEX63799 DESC TEXT: Booker, J. 1974. Essex and the Industrial Revolution.
- <2> SEX52737 DESC TEXT: Corder-Birch, A. 1997. Survey of Brickworks in Essex.
- <3> SEX63801 PERSONAL OBSERVATION: Garwood, Adam. 2004. Standard Works.
- <4> SEX65003 DESC TEXT: Phillips, A. 2002. Steam and the Road to Glory, The Paxmans Story.
- <5> SEX65004 PERSONAL OBSERVATION: Garwood, Adam. 2005. Paxmans/MAN site visit.
- None recorded
Related Monuments/Buildings (2)
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Record last edited
Jun 17 2020 10:17AM