Industrial success story that keeps on growing
THE manufacturing centre was officially opened on April 26, 1966, to link up with the medicines being researched at its laboratories in Alderley Park.
The factory - then owned by ICI - took four years and £7m to build on a 80-acre green field site on the Hurdsfield industrial estate.
Architects Harry S Fairhurst & Sons designed the pharmaceutical building, offices, restaurant, laboratories and medical centre.
Initially only half the site was developed, with future expansion in mind.
By 1964, the laboratories and warehouse were up and running and the following year manufacturing began, creating 1,000 jobs.
Drugs were created in bulk, tested, and then processed into tablets, creams, injectables or solutions. The products were then packed and stored in the warehouse on racks up to 21 feet high.
It wasn’t long before there was a need to expand and in 1971 a £3.5 million extension was completed.
Further new plants were built including a new pharmaceutical production building in 1984 and a special tablets facility in 1985, meaning the site then employed 2,500 employees.
Following the launch of a drug for prostate and breast cancer in 1987, a special sterile plant was constructed and opened in 1990.
Growth continued with three further sterile plants being built – the last in 1999.
By 1993, ICI had been sold off and reorganised and the plant’s owners Zeneca were producing drugs to treat cancers, heart, nervous system, respiratory and gastrointestinal conditions.
It was now focussed on production, packing and distribution, but also grow ing its development team, who tested the best method of production for drugs, creating a bridge between the science and manufacturing.
By 1996, goods left Macclesfield for 5,000 UK customers and 120 overseas markets.
In 1999, the Swedish pharmaceutical firm Astra merged with Zeneca, creating one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
More recently investment has continued with a £120 million upgrade to medicines production, £60 million on a new warehouse and packing hall due in 2017 and £20 million on new offices.
The site now employs more than 3,000 people, including 1,000 in manufacturing as well as 800 development and 500 IT staff.
●● A laboratory at the Hurdsfield site