Lucas CAV/Delphi Diesel Systems, Sudbury, Suffolk - January 2024

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Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Feb 19, 2009
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A little overdue exploring this one, and a little overdue getting the report up tbh! I had been wanting to do this one for a while; and despite being stripped, it has some lovely light in it and some excellent photo opportunities.

Myself and an exploring friend (though a non member) arranged to go one morning and as I was due to go to Australia a few weeks later; it could have been my last explore for a few months! Unfortunately the day before; my father fell off a ladder (rather through the rungs of it as it went) which meant cancelling the trip; and initially cancelling this explore. He is doing very well now though and getting around the house 6 weeks on and the broken femur is healing. As soon as we got him to A+E, I cancelled the Sudbury trip as I know I would need to be around. It transpired the next day, there was to be no visitors; so the trip was hastily put back on and we set off for Sudbury early afternoon.

Daylight was scant at this point; but we saw the main factory and the Social Club, and I think we covered what we could with the time we had. The place has a pretty nice red feel to it, and the colours and lighting are great here. I also found a pump I believe is very similar to a Land Rover CAV one (It’s still there in the offices though!). At one point; we had to lay low and let secca and his dog do their rounds; but we didn’t see each other and were soon able to get on with our explore. I did my externals last (of course) and we got onto the Social Club in the dark. As for history; I couldn’t even begin to rival @Speed s report found here: who worked here for nearly 9 years. Quite a thing to visit somewhere you worked, so for a very in depth history; I suggest looking here!

I’ve borrowed @Mikeymutts history here and made it my own. As said; Speed has nailed it, and his report really is something! The Lucas Cav factor in Sudbury started life in 1944, transferring a lot of the manufacturing from its main site in London. As with a lot of companies and organisations during this time; they feared Bomb Damage, even though the bulk of the bombing had subsided at this point. Lucas had other locations around the country at this point. Starting out in Sudbury in a former silk factory, they moved from location to location; finishing here to what would be known as the Chilton Works.

Chilton Works was one of those places; a local institution. It was said that everyone in Sudbury knew someone who worked at the factory or had worked in the factory. Lucas specialised in manufacturing diesel injectors, nozzles and filters and other Diesel Injection System Components. The company were well know for their Apprenticeship Schemes and training; beating the industry average of 55 hours for a year, and giving 100 hours a year, nearly double! A round of redundancies in 2015 followed by an announcement by the company to cut the company’s workforce by nearly a quarter. The plan was to make 91 permanent staff and 85 temporary staff redundant, out of the 700 workforce. The staff restructuring was all part of the plan to move manufacturing to Romania. More than 100 employees applied for for Voluntary Redundancy. The Award Winning Apprenticeship scheme was sadly scrapped. The local MP met with the new Plant Manager and Factory Head of HR, and was met with reassurance that the company was committed to Sudbury. The MP stated that though no guarantees were made as is normal, the company gave very positive signs that they were committed.

Retention of the Apprentice Scheme and promises that all current apprentices would be offered permanent contracts, was strange considering that they were then laying staff off. A Management System for the shop floor known as “Enterprise Operating System” was also at the time; promised. None of this came to fruition and Delphi would close its Sudbury site with the loss of jobs or relocation of staff. Several buyers of Chilton Works were lined up after closure, but deals fell through. These included: A Housing Development and a factory producing of electric cars. Delphi finally closed in 2020.

The sale of the 22 acre site was finally completed in 2020 to a company called Future Properties Industrial. As of now nothing has been done with the site.

















I have to I particularity liked the basements and associated plant rooms in this place; some truly great things to be seen in this part of the site!













To be continued







Thanks for looking.

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Impressively big place, I like your first shot with dramatic shadows from the floodlights.

Sadly CAV is another of the great names of UK engineering that's disappeared. CAV > Lucas > Varity > Delphi…