GE Lighting, Melton Rd, Leicester

The Melton Road factory opened in 1946 - at the time being owned by British Thomson-Houston - later becoming part of AEI and eventually Thorn until GE bought the lamp division in 1991. The factory eventually closed at the end of 2007, and the first few photographs were taken a few months prior to the closure. This page concludes with photographs of the (by then) cleared site in 2012.

 

The factory is located at the junction of Melton Road and Troon Way, on the corner of a busy crossroads. The architecture is typical of the post-war era - functional, with little in the way of embellishments.

 

A close-up of the logo - and the rain!

 

A view of the 'front' of the main building now. A string of coloured festoon lights can be seen amongst the conifer hedge.

 

A view through the security fence - the Thorn name lives on thanks to the number of Alpha 3s around the site! Gamma 8s are also installed around the main building.


I revisited the factory site on Saturday, 5th February 2011. The buildings were still standing (albeit in an empty and derelict state), but the roadways around the site were fast becoming strewn with weeds.

 

All traces of the "GE Lighting" signage had been removed from the walls; this revealed some interesting markings on the brickwork:

 

The imprint of previous signage letters were still visible - here, "Mazda lamps" could still be seen clearly, and below this (and slightly more faint) is "Lamp and Lighting Co. Ltd"; the latter dating from the factory's AEI days - the factory having been built for AEI.

 

I had brought a GE-branded 55 W SOX lamp with me; it having been made at this factory. The cessation of SOX lamp production by GE was a primary reason for the company taking the scandalous decision to close this facility.

 

The above panoramic view was taken from the other end of the complex; the vastness of the once highly-productive site can be appreciated.

 

The workshop roofs, in their classic 'jagged' style, could be seen behind the main building.

         

Two large floodlights (not visible here, but again likely to be Thorn products) illuminated the tarmac area at the rear of the factory.

 

Another panoramic view; this time looking at the site from the main entrance on Melton Road. Compare this view to that of the similar earlier view seen third from the top of this page.

 

With the "GE Lighting" branding removed from this wall, the imprints of letters that made up the "Thorn Lighting" sign were revealed.

 

Notice the sign aspect attached to the foreground traffic signal head - perhaps this is why GE never "made a u-turn" on their decision to close this factory.


Just over a year later, on Thursday, 16th February 2012, I paid another visit. Sadly, by then, the site had been cleared - nothing to indicate the former use remained.

 

A large sign advertising the freshly-cleared site had been erected at the corner of Melton Road and Troon Way. I understand that at least part of the land will be used for a supermarket development.

 

Looking back up Melton Road, in the direction of the entrance gates, we see that the site's former perimeter fence remains. The pedestrian turnstiles also remain, albeit, surrounded by foliage.

 

Moving across to Troon Way now, and this panorama (taken a little further to the junction than the panorama taken last year was) reveals the vastness of the site.

 

At the far end of the site, several elderly 8m tubular steel columns supporting floodlights still survived. I suspect that, when new, these posts may have been fitted with brackets and side-entry lanterns.

 

The recreation area at the back of the site now allowed a largely uninterrupted view back across to Melton Road.

 

I hope that whatever use the site now sees, there will be a subtle nod to the industry that once flourished here - even if this is in the form of street naming. To not acknowledge the site's history, especially after all of the research and development relating to lamp technology that occurred there in its 61 year history, would be nothing short of criminal.

For a comprehensive, and fascinating, history of this factory, please see James Hooker's website.


The following YouTube videos are related to the closed factory; the first video is a report from BBC East Midlands Today (originally broadcast in 2010) after a local MP requested that the site be decontaminated and cleared as soon as possible.

I made the following couple of videos on Saturday, 5th February 2011. The factory buildings would be cleared later that year.


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