Location

Globe House, New Street (erected May 1989)

About

The UK's first ball bearing factory was established at New Street in Chelmsford in 1898 by cousins Geoffrey and Charles Barrett.

In the early days, they were hampered by technical problems and decided to call on the services of Ernst Gustav Hoffmann. He was a Swiss-American ball bearing machine manufacturer. Not only did he solve their production issues, but he also financed the first expansion of the company. In recognition, the Barretts decided to name the company in his honour.

The Hoffmann Manufacturing Company quickly expanded and soon achieved worldwide fame for their precision-made bearings, boasting an accuracy better than 1/10,000 of an inch (2.5 micrometres). 

The firm became RHP in 1969 (Ransome, Hoffmann and Pollard). However, the factory (which once employed thousands) was demolished in the 1980s and the company relocated to Newark on Trent, where it still exists.

A part of the factory, at the junction of New Street and Rectory Lane, remains and has been converted into apartments, while the rest of the site is now the Rivermead Campus of Anglia Ruskin University.

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Last updated: 21 September 2022