Motorcycles move into former airline's home over at Donington Hall
THE former Castle Donington headquarters of airline BMI has been sold to a motorcycle manufacturer.
Norton Motorcycles has bought Donington Hall from British Airways for an undisclosed sum.
The deal includes the 18th-century hall, an adjacent building called Hastings House, which has a floor space of 45,000 sq ft, and 25 acres of grounds.
The site passed into the hands of BA's parent company, International Airlines Group, in April last year following the takeover of BMI.
Donington Hall had been the home of BMI for 30 years. Its low-cost airline, BMI Baby, was based in Hastings House.
BMI's operations have since been merged with BA and Donington Hall closed finally last December.
As a result of the deal, Norton Motorcycles will leave its current factory at Donington Park, where it employs about 40 staff.
Chief executive Stuart Garner said that all production and design work would be moved to Hastings House.
He 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, so to be able to move less than a mile down the road to 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".
Vance Williamson, head of property at British Airways, said: "We are delighted to have reached agreement with Norton Motorcycles and we hope that they are able to grow their business from their new home."
Mr Garner said that the deal came together with the help of local authorities and politicians, including North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen.
Mr Bridgen said: "I'm 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 is 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."
Norton is now working with Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership to put together job and export-growth plans.