Norton Motorcycles buys Donington Hall, in Leicestershire, as a new HQ
A world-famous British motorcycle firm has bought the historic Donington Hall.
Norton Motorcycles said the 18th century country pile and its 25 acres of grounds will become the company’s headquarters.
The manufacturer will hand-make bikes in a modern building close to the hall after buying it from British Airways for an undisclosed sum.
The airline acquired the Castle Donington property as part of its takeover of rival carrier BMI last year.
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The grade II-listed building, built in about 1790, is near to Donington Park racing circuit, where Norton is currently based.
Stuart Garner, chief executive of Norton Motorcycles, said: “Donington Hall conjures up a uniquely British way to show style, strength and quality which are all great attributes of the Norton brand.
“However, beyond the drama and romance of Donington Hall is a thoroughly modern 45,000 sq ft building (Hastings House) which will become the new Norton Motorcycles production facility and design offices. It became clear some time ago that we had outgrown our current location, to be able to move less than a mile down the road to an outstanding facility like Donington Hall is ideal.
“It will allow Norton to grow our manufacturing business with focus on ‘built in Britain by British hands’, export growth and job creation.”
The company said the move, which should be completed in June, will create jobs.
Bosses are in talks with North West Leicestershire District Council about securing the appropriate planning consents.
Norton has also announced the creation of the British Motorcycle Manufacturing Academy. The academy will be based at Donington Hall within the Hastings House complex.
Numerous industry partners are already involved in the formation of the academy which has been working with Loughborough College to put together a course based on the manufacture of motorcycles and components.
Norton, which employs about 50 staff, makes 10 bikes a week, but plans to quadruple this within a year. It has orders worth £25 million.
Norton makes two models – the Commando 961 Sport and Commando 961 Cafe Racer. Prices start at £13,500.
Mr Garner said turnover in the year to March 31, 2014, should rise from a seven-figure sum to eight figures.Last year, the company made a profit for the first time since Mr Garner bought it from a US businessman in 2008.
Norton has also been working with Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) to put together job creation and export growth plans.
Andrew Brigden, MP for North West Leicestershire, the constituency where Norton is based, said: “I am delighted to see that Donington Hall is now going to be put back into use. At the time it was vacated, I said I hoped it would be brought back into use as a business to provide local jobs.
“The fact a local manufacturing company like Norton are taking on the building and creating jobs is excellent news, and I am pleased that I was able to play a part in making this happen.”
The hall had housed up to 1,000 BMI and Bmibaby staff, who have since either relocated to the nearby East Midlands Airport, Heathrow Airport or been made redundant.
It was used as a prison camp for German officers in the First World War and a military vehicle depot during the Second World War.