World War II munitions factory becomes events venue

World War II munitions factory becomes events venue

A former World War II munitions factory has been transformed into a modern events venue in Newton Aycliffe.

ROF 59 activity centre has spent more than £20,000 creating a new party room at its premises on Aycliffe Business Park.

In recent years the building was home to Presswork Metals which manufactured parts for the automotive industry until it closed in 2004.

But in the 1940s it was part of the huge Royal Ordnance Factory site in Newton Aycliffe which produced bombs and bullets for the war effort.

Now bosses at the new ROF 59 complex – which opened last summer and includes a trampoline park, climbing walls and restaurant – have completed the conversion of an old tool room into a multi-functional venue for parties and events.

And pensioner Vera Stobbs, an original ‘Aycliffe Angel’ who worked at the munitions factory during the war, was one of the first to sample the new party room when she celebrated her granddaughter’s 40th birthday there.

“I think it’s just wonderful!” said the 91-year-old.

“It’s amazing to see what was part of the old munitions factory now being used as a place to celebrate happy times – it’s unrecognisable compared to the place I used to call work more than 70 years ago.”

Business development manager Kim Fryer, who has previously held similar roles at Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, now has ambitious plans to host a range of functions at the new site.

“The possibilities are literally endless,” says Kim, who’s originally from Birmingham and has more than 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry.

“I’ve worked at some stunning places and hosted some pretty special events over the years and ROF 59 is another uniquely historical venue which can now cater for any kind of event.

“We’re looking forward to hosting more birthday parties, wedding receptions, charity nights and all kinds of events in the months and years ahead.”

ROF 59, on Durham Way South, opened last August after a £1.1m investment which created 30 new jobs.