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Filton is a town in South Gloucestershire, England, situated on the northern outskirts of the city of Bristol, about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the city centre. Filton lies in Bristol postcode areas BS7 and BS34. The town centres upon Filton Church, which dates back to the 12th century and is a grade II listed building. Further north are the towns of Patchway and Bradley Stoke.

The name of the town comes from the Old English feleþe (hay), and tūn (farm, field). The name dates back to at least 1187.

Filton has large areas of open space, which includes several playing fields, a golf course and a large airfield, Bristol-Filton.

At the dawn of the 20th century, Filton was a small village, still detached from the city of Bristol to the south. Farming was the principal occupation. However, there was a large factory-like laundry in the village, opposite Filton House, owned by Samuel Shield.

The Bristol to South Wales railway line passed through the village. There was a small station near the site of the current Abbey Wood Station. A much larger railway station, known as Filton Junction, opened in 1910, after the rail route from Bristol to London was finished.

In 1907 the northern terminus for Bristol Tramways was moved out from Horfield to Filton. Tram production in the tramway sheds commenced in 1908. The manufacture of aeroplanes started in the Bristol Tramway sheds in 1910. Aeroengine production started in 1920.

Between the wars Filton expanded rapidly, to become a suburb of Bristol. Terraced and semi-detached housing, in small estates on both sides of the A38 trunk road, was built. Eventually, Filton became part of the Bristol conurbation, although it remained outside the city boundary.

During the 1930s, two infant/primary schools and one secondary school were built in Filton to accommodate the growing number of school-age children in the area. Many of these children were evacuated when WWII started in 1939, but returned later, during the Phoney War.

Filton High School, originally a grammar school, but now a comprehensive, started to take pupils in 1960.

During the mid-1970s the A38 trunk road was upgraded to a dual carriageway. Station Road, a country lane in the early part of the 20th century, was also widened to become a dual carriageway and form part of the Avon Ring Road.

Sandwiched between roads, factories, railway lines and the aerodrome, Filton expanded little after WWII. However, from the late 1970s a trading estate slowly developed on the eastern side of the Bristol/South Wales railway line in what is now known as East Filton. Later, the Ministry of Defence set up a large office complex, known as Abbey Wood, in the same area.

Filton is also home to the Filton Concert Brass. The band, formed 60 years ago, is currently Bristol’s highest-placed brass band, having been promoted to the First Section of the West Region at the 2010 Regional Finals in Torquay. This places them above other Bristol bands such as Bristol East and Kingswood, and City of Bristol. For the past few years, the band has been conducted in contests by Bryn James. The band’s oldest serving member, Jim Scott, was a founding member of the band and, until this year, had played in the regional finals every year!

The manufacture of aeroplanes started in 1910, when Sir George White, the owner of Bristol Tramways, established the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company in the maintenance sheds of Bristol Tramways. A small ‘flying ground’ was set up opposite Fairlawn Avenue in 1911.

The Company grew rapidly during WWI, building thousands of Bristol Fighters and other aircraft. In 1915, as the aircraft works expanded over the original ‘flying ground’, the Royal Flying Corps established Filton Aerodrome in fields at the bottom of Filton Hill.

Aeroengine production started north of Filton Aerodrome, with the acquisition of Cosmos Engineering in 1920. In the same year, the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company became the Bristol Aeroplane Company, often abbreviated to BAC.

The re-armament programme from 1935 to the outbreak of WWII, saw further expansion of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. East Works on Gypsy Patch Lane and Rodney Works along Gloucester Road North were established for the production of aeroengines.

Prior to WWII there was a belief that German bombers had insufficient range to reach Filton, however, the invasion of France by the Nazis in 1940 changed the situation. Nevertheless, as war approached anti-aircraft guns were set up in a field pasture up on Filton Hill, adjacent to Filton Golf Club, to defend the aircraft factories. On September 25, 1940, German aircraft based in France, raided Filton, causing extensive damage to the aircraft factories, as well as causing a heavy loss of life when several air raid shelters were hit. Shortly afterwards, a squadron of Supermarine Spitfire fighter aircraft was stationed at Filton Aerodrome, to defend the area.

Aircraft produced during WWII included the Blenheim, Beaufort, Beaufighter and Brigand. Filton Aerodrome was upgraded to a concrete runway during 1941/42. Prior to D-Day, a number of US aircraft, imported into the UK via Avonmouth docks, were assembled at Filton Airfield.

After WW2, the concrete runway at Filton Aerodrome was extended westwards to enable the huge Bristol Brabazon airliner to take-off safely. This extension required demolition of the hamlet of Charlton. A large three-bay hangar was also built to accommodate the Brabazon project. At the time, the hangar doors were the largest in the world, as was the railway level crossing leading to the main runway.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, BAC branched out into the development and production of pre-fabricated buildings, plastics, helicopters, guided weapons, luxury cars, gas turbines and ramjet motors. The Bristol Britannia (Whispering Giant) airliner and Bristol Freighter were produced.

BAC opened a technical college for apprentices and trainees at the bottom of Filton Hill in 1954. This was eventually absorbed by Filton (Technical) College, that had opened on the opposite side of Filton Avenue in 1961.

In 1958 the aero engine interests of the Bristol Aeroplane Company and Armstrong Siddeley were amalgamated to form Bristol Siddeley Engines. Rolls-Royce purchased Bristol Siddeley Engines in 1966. On February 4, 1971 Rolls-Royce were declared bankrupt due to the burden of development of the RB211 engine for the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar jetliner. Due to the importance of Rolls-Royce engine division to the Royal Air Force, the Government nationalised the company. Frederick Corfield the then local MP, was then Minister for Aviation, and presumably had influence over what was an unusual decision for a Conservative administration. In 1973 the Rolls-Royce car division was separated as Rolls-Royce Motors. Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited (the engine division) was privatised in 1987 as Rolls-Royce plc.

In 1960 the British Aircraft Corporation took over the aircraft interests of the Bristol Aeroplane Company.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the development and production of Concorde at Filton and a further extension of the Filton runway. Because of jet blast, gates and traffic lights were installed to close off the A38 road when Concorde took off. A few Lightning fighters were produced during this period.

In 1977 British Aerospace became the owner of the Filton site. Work undertaken included production of the BAe 146 and components for various Airbus aircraft.

The aircraft interests of BAC are now owned by Airbus, GKN and BAE Systems, whilst the aero engine facilities are part of Rolls-Royce. MBDA owns the guided weapons facilities. Bristol Cars are still produced at the Filton site. The production of helicopters, pre-fabricated buildings and plastics has long since ceased or moved elsewhere.

Next to the A38 road, Airbus UK purchased 26 acres (110,000 m2) of the former Rodney Works from BAE Systems with a view to erect new factory buildings. New office accommodation was also to be erected on the old 1910 BCAC site. Although both sites have now been cleared, the planned development has been delayed, because Airbus wished to offload the development/manufacture of composite wings for the A350XWB (intended for Filton) to another contractor. GKN was the successful bidder for the work and has taken over some of the Filton site. According to latest reports, GKN will also take over vacant warehouses in nearby Easter Compton for some of the composite wing work, whilst Airbus will continue wing design work at the Filton site.

The Airbus redevelopment plan is for Filton House and New Filton House (both listed buildings) to be fully refurbished as ‘Pegasus house’ as part of the new office complex currently under final planning review. New Filton House was shrouded in protective polythene in August 2006, to reduce deterioration of the structure.

Districts within the town include Filton Park and Northville. East Filton, which has grown up east of the Bristol-South Wales railway line, contains the offices of the Ministry of Defence Defence Procurement Agency, plus a shopping park.

Filton can be reached from Junction 1 of the M32 motorway, or from Junction 16 of the M5 motorway. The town has a railway station, Filton Abbey Wood.

Filton has an aerospace connection dating back to the early days of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. Aerospace companies in Filton include BAE Systems, Airbus, Rolls-Royce and MBDA factories, all located around Filton Aerodrome. On 26 November 2003, Concorde 216 (G-BOAF) made the final ever Concorde flight, returning to Filton to be kept there permanently as the centrepiece of a projected air museum. This museum will include the existing Bristol Aero Collection which is kept at Kemble Airport, 33 miles (53 km) from Filton. This collection includes a Bristol Britannia aircraft.

Other organisations include the MOD, Viridor, Hewlett Packard and the Royal Mail. Filton is also home to the regional blood processing facility, NHS Blood and Transplant Filton.

Filton’s educational facilities include Filton College, Filton High School (to be renamed Abbeywood Community School from 2010) and several primary schools. The University of the West of England is at nearby Frenchay.

Filton has two main shopping areas – the Shield Centre (on the site of the former Shield Laundry) and Abbey Wood Retail Park, as well as other shops. To the east of the town there is a small area of woodland known as Splatt’s Abbey Wood.

Bristol Cars was a manufacturer of hand-built luxury cars, based in Filton. Bristol Cars had no distributors nor dealers and dealt directly with customers; they had a showroom in Kensington in London. They claimed to be the last wholly British-owned luxury car builder. The company went into administration in 2011.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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