CVA, Post WWII Development
During WWII CVA’s manufacturing facilities and expertise were put to use for the war effort. At least one of the Portland Road buildings was used as a Munitions Shop. Because of the importance of its war work, the Company expanded during this period opening two other factories in the Brighton area. Following the war, CVA was in a good position for further expansion. It was one of the biggest manufacturing employers in the area, and further development was planned.
CVA had modest office facilities, with limited frontage onto Portland Road. Whilst the Portland Road site covered some 200,000 sq ft, the frontage onto Portland Road was a mere 200 feet of shabby advertising hoardings. At this time CVA’s customers were national and international manufacturing companies, and CVA needed to portray a certain image. By the early 1950’s the plan was to put that anomaly right, by the building of prestigious new offices, which would give CVA the image of a global player.
In 1953 the Company’s plans included demolition of the old workshop behind the advertising hoardings and the building of new offices with grand frontage onto Portland Road. What was unusual was that the Company themselves were to be the main contractor for the development. This was only possible because of the large Works Department. An example of this was that all the bricklaying was to be carried out by the Company’s own bricklayers, one of the many and varied skills of the large team of maintenance craftsman in the Works Department. Construction of the 3-story building started soon after the Coronation celebrations of June 2nd 1953. The size of the new building overshadowed the older “D Block,” building behind.
The “Works Entrance” was directly opposite the top of Glebe Villas, with the impressive main entrance from Portland Road to the newly completed office block ‘Garantools House’ slightly to the west. E.H. Jones Limited was the sales company set up by CVA to sell their machines.
Kearney & Trecker Corporation
The Company had ties since the forties with the U.S. Machine Tool manufacturer Kearney & Trecker Corporation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was one of many reasons why the Portland Road site would not prosper for much longer! Kearney & Trecker manufactured very large machines, and by the late 1950’s these U.S. machines were to be built by CVA. The Portland Road site was not really suited to products of this size, and two new sites were chosen, Hollingbury in Brighton and Lineside in Littlehampton. Purpose built factories were developed on these sites in the late fifties to manufacture these huge US designed machines. In 1966 Kearney & Trecker Corporation, who had owned some CVA shares since 1957, brought the remaining shares held by Eric Aron and his family. Now holding 96% of the equity the name was changed to Kearney & Trecker, and Hollingbury was to become the new headquarters!
Production was gradually moved from Portland Road and many other sites in the Brighton area to Hollingbury. This move was completed in 1973 with the closure of the Portland Road site. CVA had operated from the site for 56 years, however the new building had lasted barely 20 years! The Portland Road site was redeveloped in the 1970’s, with the houses on either side being demolished to give additional frontage, and is now occupied by Seeboard Energy.