Abbey Panels Ltd.
Plaque on XJ220 Chassis no.1
|Industry||Automotive and Aerospace|
|Founders||Edward Loades FRSA, Les Bean, Bill Woodhall, and Ernie Wilkinson (Company Secretary)|
|Headquarters||Exhall, Coventry, United Kingdom|
Tony Loades, President Robert Loades, Chairman Aart van der Temple, Director (Netherlands)John Carolan, Engineering Director
Abbey Panels Ltd., originally known as Abbey Panels & Sheet Metal Co. Ltd., was a Warwickshire based coachbuilding company founded on Abbey Road, Nuneaton in 1941, initially assembling Supermarine Spitfires for the war effort. The early partners were Edward Loades FRSA, Les Bean, Bill Woodhall and Ernie Wilkinson. As the business grew they expanded to Old Church Road, Coventry before having their main manufacturing plant on the well known Bayton Road Industrial Estate in Exhall. In 1967, Ted Loades listed the business on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and it became known as Loades PLC, with Abbey Panels its main brand, alongside Albany Zinc (castings), Loades Dynamics (machining) and Descartes Design (car styling), and it then went on to be run by Ted's sons, Tony Loades and Robert Loades.
The company specialised in producing handmade prototype car bodies and did so for Ford, Rover, MG, Lea Francis, Jaguar, Bristol Cars, Healey, Lotus, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, BMW, Buick, and Lincoln, being responsible for the bodywork of cars such as the Le Mans winning Ford GT40, numerous Jaguars (XK120, C-type, D-type, E-type, XJ13, XJ220, XK180), the original Mark I Land Rover Station Wagon,Jim Clark's Lotus 38 and Stirling Moss's 1957 Pescara Grand Prix winning Vanwall. They also produced parts for the Aerospace industry, including, for example, the Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine duct of the Harrier Jump Jet.
In 2002 Loades PLC stopped most of its manufacturing and began a phased closure of the Abbey Panels plant in Coventry, although some of the same craftsmen work on the same site. Loades PLC continued to run their aerospace engineering and machining company for a period of time, and refocused their efforts on redeveloping their industrial properties under the Loades Ecoparc brand.
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