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The story behind the Humber Enterprise Park: Robert Blackburn and his flying machines

18th August 2017
Following a 6m regeneration project, the Humber Enterprise Park today offers modern, flexible office and industrial spaces over an 86-acre site. Rewind 100 years however and things were a little different – all thanks to a man named Robert Blackburn.

Robert Blackburn was an entrepreneur who first discovered the site when stopping overnight in the small town of Brough on a journey from Leeds to Hull. Mr Blackburn rose in the morning to run his dogs down to the foreshore, and by chance what he found on the banks of the Humber was the perfect location for his passion and business venture – aircraft manufacturing.

He saw in the site a wide expanse, a flat terrain and a foreshore from which he could launch his planes. Despite aircraft manufacturing certainly not being a tried and tested pursuit in the early 19th century, Robert built a successful business on the back of renowned planes such as Buccaneer, Bluebird and most recently Hawk – the original red arrows aircraft.

At its peak the site employed over 10,000 people, including a significant majority from Brough and the surrounding villages. Since then the site has passed through various ownerships and guises, from Blackburn Aircraft, to Hawker Siddly to British Aerospace and now to LC Industrial – a joint venture between Citivale and LRE Capital to rejuvenate underperforming business spaces across the UK.

The two-year redevelopment project undertaken by LC Industrial involved the high-end refurbishment of five empty office buildings covering almost 5,000sqm. It was crucial for the new owners to celebrate the site’s heritage, not erase it. The outdated buildings were reborn as Hawk, Firebrand, Mercury, Buccaneer and Bluebird, with each office entrance featuring a bespoke vinyl wrap depicting the aircraft which gave it its name.

A series of bespoke murals around the site further pay tribute to its history, while the logo itself puts the airplanes front and center. The project was recently shortlisted for a Constructing Excellence in Yorkshire & Humber award in the Building Project of the Year category.

Members of the Blackburn family were present at the site’s official opening in March 2017. Robert’s daughter Janie Rayne said at the event that her father would have been thrilled with how the redevelopment respects the sites heritage whilst at the same time giving it new life.

You can find blogs on how the site’s tenants are finding life at the Humber Enterprise Park in our News section.

If you’re interested in our available office space, you can take a 360 tour here.