New buyer found for industrial site

A DISUSED Ambergate factory site which was refused permission to be turned into a steam museum has been bought by a Nether Heage company.

The Litchfield Group of companies which has its headquarters in Nether Heage has bought the former Bridon Ropes and Johnson and Nephew site.

A spokesman for the company said it had been looking for a suitable site in the area for a while.

She said: Part of the site will be used for industrial units but it s too early to say what we will do with the whole site.

It is hoped the move will create extra jobs, although numbers have not been specified.

The ex-Bridon Ropes and Johnson and Nephew site has been vacant since the wireworks closed six years ago.

The Litchfield Group makes a range of products mainly for the construction industry. It is one of the area s biggest private employers.

There are 420 people based at Nether Heage and Ambergate and a total of a thousand worldwide.

Manufacturing operations are carried out in Germany, the USA and Poland, as well as an additional UK site at Knaresborough.

Director James Litchfield said the company was committed to the people of Derbyshire.

He said: While we have enjoyed considerable expansion at Nether Heage in recent years, the redevelopment of what has been a derelict site at Ambergate will allow us to further develop our exciting growth plans.

The Litchfield Group s links with Belper go back 79 years, when it began trading from premises in Broadholme in 1922.

Ambergate councillor Maurice Gent welcomed news of the development.

He said: It was a massive blow for the area when Bridon closed the wireworks.

For generations, Johnson and Nephew had provided a livelihood for people from the ages of 15 to 65.

There was also disappointment when the plan to create a themed railway heritage village involving the Flying Scotsman fell through. So this news is good for the area.

I am pleased that an old-established local company is taking over the site with the prospect of more jobs.

Wire drawing firm Richard Johnson and Nephew opened a factory in 1876.

In its heyday it employed 500 people. It was taken over by the Bridon Group in 1990 and closed in 1996 with the loss of 120 jobs.

In 1999 Steam Heritage announced plans for a themed heritage village centred on the Flying Scotsman.

It needed shops to make the scheme viable but Derbyshire County Council said the amount sought would be harmful to nearby retail areas.

Steam Heritage is now looking at a site at Doncaster - where Flying Scotsman was built - which has links to the East Coast main line.