Latest News | 19 October 2022

Work starts on multi-million-pound heritage vehicle centre

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Work has started on a new £3 million heritage vehicle centre at a former Rolls-Royce site in Derby.

The project, which is expected to create 120 jobs, will see the former Light Alloy site, in Osmaston Road, transformed into a centre where owners of classic vehicles, including cars, motorbikes and lorries, can bring their pride and joys to be repaired and restored.

Shaun Matthews, of Great Northern Classics, who came up with the idea for the project, said: “I am so happy to see this project getting off the ground after so long and we’re hugely indebted to Derby City Council for their tremendous support.”

Councillor Chris Poulter, leader of the city council, said: “We want to ensure that as much of our spending as possible remains within the city, supporting Derby people – and Derby City Council is pleased to support this exciting opportunity. Not only will it secure the future of a historic cultural asset, but it also gives back to the people of Derby.

“It will create a space that attracts visitors, boosting the city economy and where young people can learn valuable skills totally befitting of Derby’s engineering heritage.”

Similar to the concept of BBC TV’s Repair Shop, classic car owners will be able to access upholsterers, electricians, mechanics and bodywork specialists, all of whom will be given workshop space all under the same roof within the 85,000 sq ft building.

The centre is also designed to preserve and propagate crucial skills for the classic vehicle industry by acting as a training academy for a new generation of young artisans and skilled workers, who will be offered apprenticeships to enable them to learn their trade direct from the experts themselves.

And it will also have extra facilities so that visitors will be able to meet and look at the work taking place and attend host conferences and meetings, while the site will offer vehicle storage as well.

Mr Matthews said: “Classic vehicle ownership is booming, but it’s served by a cottage industry of talented engineers who are working away in small workshops all over the country and, frankly, aren’t getting any younger.

“We want to change that, by bringing them together under one roof while giving young people who want to become motor engineers a place to learn their skills from these experts, all of which will create jobs and attract visitors to the city.”

After having the idea for Great Northern Classics, Mr Matthews, who himself is a classic vehicle fanatic, approached current Derbyshire High Sheriff Mike Copestake and Derby architect Derek Latham, who are experts in renovating old buildings, asking for help to find somewhere suitable to house it.

A number of possible sites were considered until Rolls-Royce agreed to sell the company the former Light Alloy site, which is currently home to the aerospace firm’s heritage collection of aero engines.

Plans were promptly drawn up and, earlier this year, the scheme was approved by the city council, which has also made another contribution to the scheme by lending the company £1.25 million from its Derby Enterprise Growth Fund.

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