Cambridge Sites


The Development of the Main St Andrews Road, Cambridge Site


The Development of Pye’s main site -

WG Pye moved to this site in 1913 with 40 employees; with the advent of radio manufacture in the 1920s the factory expanded rapidly.

Haig Road, now Elizabeth Way is on the left and St Andrews Road, leading to St Andrews Church is mid picture.

1930 - Cambridge Works

Here we see the main production area with its 10 long roofs. Behind that were the main offices and research laboratories, which fronted St Andrews Road.

The River Cam is at top right, across the Sports Fields.

At this time, the whole site would have employed around 1500 staff.


This shot taken from the river bank. The picture shows the Pye buildings in 1932.


This shows the front of Pye’s Headquarter building in 1932.

Behind this frontage, the Pye Research Laboratories were starting to develop the first Televisions.

1960s - 1970s

In 1960, after the new Pye Head Office had been built, this building was occupied by Pye Engineering Services.

In 1979, Pye Engineering Services closed and the building was then occupied by Pye Telecom’s Systems Division.


Here we see where the various departments on the main Pye site were located around 1955.

It was drawn by Richard Ellis.

1960s - 1980s

In 1956, Pye of Cambridge built a new office block on the river side of St Andrew’s Road. It was known as ‘the wavy roof building’.

It housed Pye’s Head Office and Pye Ltd’s Sales and Marketing staff, totaling around 200.

In the early 1980s Pye of Cambridge was disbanded and the building was occupied by Pye Telecom.

Simoco, occupied the building when Philips Telecom was sold in 1996.

In 2002 Simoco was sold partly to Sepura who became the building’s tenants.

In 2018 Sepura moved out and in 2019, the building was completely renovated, as shown.

1978 - Pye Telecoms New Building

Pye Telecom’s new building, known as Site 1, was opened in 1978.

It housed the Head office, Development Labs and main factory, employing around 2000 staff.

The ‘old’ Cambridge Works was demolished, and became a car park!

The new Catering Centre and Sports Club can be seen bottom left.

In May 1978, Pye Telecom was to officially open their new factory by holding a major event with customers coming from all over the world for a two day symposium.

This would be on Thursday and Friday, followed by an Open Day for Pye staff on Saturday.

Marquees full of Telecom products had been erected on the Sports Fields.

But on the Saturday before the opening, it looked like this.


By Monday the river had gone down, leaving a muddy quagmire and ruined electrical equipment.

Herculean efforts to dry both the land and the products by many staff and outside contractors meant that by Thursday the Symposium could go ahead.

Albeit we walked on squidgy duck boards in the marquees!

1982

This picture shows the complete St Andrew’s Road site, with the wavy roof building on the right, Site 1 at the back, Telecom’s Systems factory and car park at the bottom.

By this time, Pye Telecom occupied the whole site.

Apart from the wavy roof building, all of the Pye buildings have since been demolished and turned into housing.

Pye Unicam - York Street, Cambridge

Pye had taken over WG Pye Ltd in 1946 and Unicam Instruments Ltd in 1947. Both were instrument makers, but with different products – and cultures.

So when in 1962, they both moved into a new purpose built factory in York Street, it did not immediately lead to co-operation, far from it. It was not until 6 years later that they merged into a new company – Pye Unicam.

By 1985 Unicam employed some 1500 staff.

In 1991 the company was sold to ATI who in turn sold it to Thermo.

Pye’s TV Broadcast equipment activity became a separate company, Pye TVT Ltd, in 1960.

In 1963 Pye TVT moved to these premises on Coldhams Lane, Cherry Hinton, previously occupied by Woodcraft, a Pye business making the wooden cabinets for Pye’s TVs and Radios. Around 600 staff worked here.

TVT’s Studio Division was closed in 1986 and the Transmitter business sold to Varian a year later, and sold again to Harris Broadcast in 1991 .

Harris moved to Huntingdon in 2002 and the site was closed.

Pye Telecom, Ditton Works

It was situated on the corner of Newmarket Road and Ditton Lane.

A gas mask factory during WW2, the site was acquired by Pye and become the home of Pye Telecom until 1978.

Senior management, the development laboratories, an assembly, test and systems factory, sales and other offices were housed here, totaling some 800 staff.

It closed in 1978 when the activity moved to the new factory on St Andrew’s Road.

The original building has since been demolished but the site remains as industrial units.

Meadowcroft, Church Street, Cambridge

Meadowcroft was a large house with lawns running down to the river.

Initially it was occupied by Pye Cathodeon Ltd, which developed cathode ray tubes.

Later it became a ‘hotel’ for top management and visitors, including Lord Thorneycroft, Pye’s Chairman. It employed a butler and a chef.

Jim Langford recalls how, in July 1969, he was summoned by Lady Thorneycroft to watch on TV (Pye of course) the first moon landing whilst supping G&Ts.

Later it became Pye offices and finally sold for new housing.