P. C. Henderson

1964: News was announced that an asbestos factory would be built on the edge of Bowburn (just inside Shincliffe Parish) by the Universal Asbestos Manufacturing Co. (later Cape’s).

The factory was one of two attracted to Bowburn (the other being PC Henderson’s) to employ men being made redundant from Bowburn Colliery.

The 30 acre site was taken (against his will) from Harry Johnston’s South Grange Farm, which he rented from the NCB.

12/2/1969: P.C. Henderson Ltd. of Romford, Essex, completed its purchase of a site for its sliding doors factory in Bowburn.An agreement to buy the land from Durham Rural District Council had been signed on 19/8/1968 and construction of the factory, occupying one third of the 10 acre site, started soon afterwards. It took ten months to complete and production began in September 1969. The factory was expected to employ about 200 local people.

The Council had bought most of the Henderson’s site from Sherburn Hospital on 6/10/1966. It had also bought a strip of land to the rear of Henderson’s (part of the woods in Bishopleys Close, which Henderson’s also bought) from the NCB, on 21/9/1967.

(I had previously recorded that the Council had also bought the Cape site from Sherburn Hospital. However that must have been based on a mis-reading of the PC Henderson conveyance documents. I believe the Cape site had been part of South Grange Farm, which I believe was previously owned by the NCB, not by Sherburn Hospital.)

The conveyance was signed on behalf of Durham RDC by its Clerk, Rosamond Taylor, and Chairman, Cllr. J. E. Wright ‘ who worked at Bowburn Colliery and was one of the councillors for Cassop-cum-Quarrington. Henderson’s signatories were Allan[?] Curron[?], Director, and Arthur R. Eade, Secretary.

P.C. Henderson’s previous base was in Romford, Essex, from which Cape’s had also already come. It had been founded by Percy C. Henderson, in Barking, in 1921.

The first General Manager at Bowburn was Martin Wellford, one of Hendersons’ assistant directors and brother-in-law of Bernard Henderson (and son-in-law of the founder, Percy Henderson). (Martin Wellford became heavily involved in Bowburn Community Association.)

Six of the ten key workers from the Harold Hill factories in Essex were housed in the newly built 31‘36, Henry Avenue.

1980: New cold rolling line commissioned at P.C. Henderson’s garage door factory, to support the growing sales of Henderson up and over doors.

1984: Work started to extend P.C. Henderson’s factory to house a new, state of the art paint plant, capable of handling 1,000 doors a day. Construction took two years. The fully computerised £1.5m garage door powder coating paint plant was operational by 1986. It gave Henderson garage doors ultimate protection against weathering and corrosion.

1987: The two millionth Henderson up-and-over garage door rolled off the assembly lines at the Bowburn factory. It was a double ’Doric’ style door, sold to a builders merchant in North London.

1988: The P.C. Henderson Group of Companies was acquired by Hepworth plc, a leading UK based building products company. Henderson joined such other well known names as Glow Worm central heating boilers and Hepworth plumbing in a portfolio which could cover almost all the different types of building materials needed to build a house.

1992: Over £10m was invested in the P.C. Henderson garage door factory, making the production lines the most advanced in the world. The first Henderson ’Premiere’ steel garage doors were born, offering exact made-to-measure doors (in size increments of only 1mm), with unique jointing methods and the strongest Henderson door panels ever.

1994: P.C. Henderson’s Romford plant was closed and all production moved to Bowburn, bringing together sliding gear and garage doors under one roof. Bowburn was established as the Head Office and main base of the company.

2000: PC Henderson became part of the Cardo Door Group. Cardo is a major European engineering products group, with headquarters in Malmˆ, Sweden.

2001: Over £250,000 was invested in P.C. Henderson’s paint plant, to ensure the polyester paint finish on Henderson Premiere garage doors gives unsurpassed protection against the weather and corrosion.A completely new range of garage doors, ìthe Castle rangeî, was created to offer doors coated in 'Plastisol', offering a wider range of factory finished colours than before. From launch, sales outstripped forecasts as the range proved a popular success.

2/7/2003: Fire at P.C. Henderson’s sliding door factory destroyed the GRP (glass reinforced plastic) shop.

Following fire klaxon just before 11.00am, all 250 (approx.) employees assembled safely in the car park. None hurt. They later transferred to Bowburn Community Centre for tea and biscuits, together with those from other evacuated units on the industrial estate.

More than 60 fire-fighters and a police helicopter were involved in the six-hour operation, in which residents were warned to keep their windows closed, in case the wind turned and blew toxic fumes towards the New Estate.

Yet all employees were back at work the next day, as fire walls successfully contained the fire in the GRP shop.

December 2008: PC Henderson Ltd sold its garage door business to the Cardale Group. PC Henderson retained its head (UK) office at Bowburn and now concentrated on developing sliding door gear solutions, which it continued to manufacture here.

A £1m investment was made on new machinery in the autumn of 2009, as PCH expanded its sliding gear business.

The Cardale Group – not to be confused with the Cardo Group, the Swedish company that owned and continues to own PC Henderson – kept the Henderson name, calling its new company Henderson Garage Doors, and continued to make the doors at Bowburn.

Cardale, founded by Roy Sibley in 1945, originally began manufacturing garage doors in 1964. Cardale Doors Limited was established in 1968. Its head offices were at Brackley, Northamptonshire, and it had manufacturing facilities at Brackley, Luton, Scunthorpe and Verwood, and a distribution depot in Glasgow.

Cardale went into administration on 14 July 2009. It was then bought up by the BRP Group, whose head office is at Luton.

Sources: Bowburn Labour Party minute book 26/5/1964; Bill Bohannon 14/7/2002; Gerry Gould 16/5/04; Dur. Co. Adv. 11/6/1965, p.1; Conveyance documents; Mal Bell; www.pchenderson.com; Kerrey Baker (of PC Henderson) 25/9/09; www.cardale.com; Northern Echo (or Durham Advertiser?), Sept. 1969; Rita Irwin’s scrapbook [9/8/2003]