Hillington Park has been at the heart of Scottish business and industry since 1938.
It has been home to thousands of businesses & organisations through its 80-year history. Initially focused on developing new factories for the manufacturing & engineering sector, Hillington has evolved and expanded over the years to include a wide range of business sectors today.
In 1934, as a direct action to address the continuing 1930’s depression, an Act of Parliament set up “Special Areas of Scotland”, specifically targeted to boost industry and create jobs.
Hillington Industrial Estate became Scotland’s first “Special Area of Scotland” with the site being chosen “upwind of the grime of industrial Glasgow” linked to railway and nearby docks and just six miles from the city centre. In 1937 development on the former farmland began.
The official brochure of the Hillington Industrial Estate described ‘innovative factory standard units of 5,000 sqft that were grouped together in a block made up from three or four units. Blocks of seven ‘nest factories’ of 1,200 sq ft each were also available for rent for just £1 per week. Additional costs were applied for steam, water (from Loch Katrine), gas and electricity which was supplied to all units through service systems laid along every road on the Estate.
Initially extending to 320 acres, Hillington Industrial Estate was an immediate success. Within a year there were 65 companies occupying ‘modern factories for light industry at reasonable rentals’. Social clubs, canteens, first aid services and sports fields were provided to accommodate the workers on the estate. The original Hillington Estate bowling club remains on the Park today. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth officially opened the Estate in May 1938.
In June 1939, the Government Air Ministry began constructing a “shadow” manufacturing facility for the Rolls Royce Merlin aircraft engines that powered the likes of the Spitfire and Hurricane. Fourteen blocks of factory space, each around 120,000 sq ft were built in record time with the first unit completed in October 1939 and the full scheme built and occupied by September 1940. At its peak, 16,000 people worked at the Rolls Royce factory making 400 engines every week. In total 23,675 engines were produced during WWII. In one report it was said that worker absenteeism became a problem after some months due to the physical and mental effects of wartime conditions such as the frequent occupation of air-raid shelters. It was agreed to cut the punishing working hours slightly to 82 hours a week, with one half-Sunday per month awarded as holiday!
In 1975, responsibility for Hillington passed from the Scottish Development Department to the Scottish Development Agency [SDA] The Estate remained largely in public sector ownership until 1996 when the SDA sold the Caledonian Land Portfolio which included Hillington Park to MEPC plc. The Rolls Royce factory closed in 2005 with the site being sold for redevelopment.
Singapore headquartered Frasers Property acquired Hillington Park in November 2017.