The Pirelli Cable Works, situated on the east side of Western Esplanade, were built in 1914. A number of potential sites were considered, but Southampton was eventually chosen because of the proximity of the docks. An enormous factory was built on what was then the banks of the River Test, on land that was still settling. Problems encountered when laying the foundations continued in the 1920s as cracks began to appear in the buildings and subsidence led to dropped floors and twisted corridors. Consequently in 1928, Pirelli opened a new factory at Eastleigh and gradually transferred its operations there. Nevertheless the Southampton factory continued in existence until 1990. The buildings were demolished and the site is now occupied by West Quay Shopping Centre.

Pirelli Cable works

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Photograph from the 1940s showing the factory on the left and Catchcold Tower, with gun emplacement, on the right

Pirelli Cable works

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Aerial photograph from the 1960s showing the extent of the factory site on Western Esplanade.

Further reading:
Work and Wealth in a Modern Port, by P. Ford, p46-47. (HS/o)


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