Other Sites

Other Pye Sites

When Germany began bombing cities and industrial sites many firms were pressured by the Government to set up ‘shadow’ factories in the North and West of England and in Wales.

Pye refused, but instead diversified into towns and villages all around East Anglia (Royston, Sawston, Kings Lynn, Lowestoft, Leiston, Swafham, Mildenhall, etc.)

A dispersed work-force of 14,000 workers produced the Pye equipment and sub-assemblies in village halls and other buildings (e.g. Sawston Bakery) for transportation to Cambridge for testing and despatch.

Tanks were shipped by rail to Pye in Royston to have their WS 19 radios fitted.

The Pye "factory" in a bakery in Sawston village, Cambridgeshire during WW2.

As a consequence, when peace finally came, Pye had a trained and skilled workforce of almost 15,000 people ready to staff its factories. Factories not only in the city of Cambridge but also in many parts of the UK and overseas. Here are a few of them.

Over the years the Pye business thrived and it developed into a truly global company.


Strong demand following the end of the war meant that additional manufacturing facilities were needed.

Under the Industrial Development Act, companies were offered grants, premises and equipment to attract new industries to Northern Ireland and this was an influential factor in Pye setting up Corran Works Ltd in Larne, Co. Antrim.

Established in 1947 for the mass production of domestic radio receivers, and later car radios, by the 1960s it was a major presence in the town with over 1000 people employed, about half on component manufacture and half on receiver assembly.

Components made in the factory included plastics mouldings, pressed metal parts, printed circuit boards, printed scales and dials and all types of coil and transformer.

Like all Pye sites, it had a very active sports and social side, as evidenced by the Facebook site, “Memories of Larne.”

Cross-channel transport costs and increasing competition from Japanese manufacturers put pressure on the operation in Larne and after some years of uncertainty, it closed in 1965.

It is interesting to note that in 1960 C.O. Stanley said that “the cost of making the same output in Larne and shipping it through Liverpool was £80,000 more than at Cambridge, where the wages were similar”. How times change!

Corram Works, Bay Rd, Larne

Corram Works, Bay Rd, Larne


In 1952, Pye opened a new factory to meet the growing demand for television, and transferred all TV manufacture from Cambridge.

At it’s peak, some 3500 staff were employed there and at its satellite sites.

After the Philips takeover, the new owners didn’t want two UK television factories, so Lowestoft was closed in 1982 and production moved to Croydon.

Sanyo took over the site but they in turn shifted production and closed the site in 2009.


Eric K Cole’s Southend factory, which made TVs and Radios, grew substantially after the war.

By 1958, it employed around 5000 employees there, not just on TV production but in a range of other activities including a large plastics factory, measuring instruments and avionics.

In 1960 Pye took over Ekco but had closed the factory by the end 1971.

The site was taken over by ACCESS to process credit card transactions.


Founded in 1953, Cathodeon Crystals moved to this factory in 1960.

It made quartz crystals, crystal filters and crystal oscillators for the radio communications industry.

At its peak it employed 550 staff.

It became part of Cambridge Electronic Industries in 1981.

Due to the falling demand for quartz crystals, the company closed in 1989.


Haverhill, a London overspill town, offered incentives to companies setting up there.

Pye Telecom opened its third factory there in the 1957 as demand for its products rose.

It employed nearly 400 staff, producing microwave, mobiles and fixed stations.

Three Works Buses brought many employees into work from surrounding areas.

As new technology seriously reduced the need for product assembly staff, Telecom closed the factory in 1984.


Pye established three companies in Newmarket, all in a row down Exning Road.

Magnetic Devices, later Pye Electro Devices, was formed in 1949 and made relays, solenoids and switches.

Newmarket Transistors (shown here) was set up in 1955 as transistors began to be universally used.

Varelco made connectors.

Between them, they employed nearly 700 staff, making them probably Newmarket’s biggest employer.

They each became part of Cambridge Electronic Industries in 1981 but have since been sold.

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