Earls Court

The newly constructed Earls Court Exhibition Centre first opened its doors in September 1937 and had 40,000 square metres of space over two levels.  During the Second World War there was no need for an exhibition centre in the West End of London and the building stood relatively idle.

In 1942 the Napier company was being absorbed into the English Electric Group in an attempt to solve the production issues of the Napier Sabre at that time.   It was decided that having an inspection and repair facility close to the main Acton site would free up production space and still allow engines being returned to be repaired quickly.  Amid protests from the local council the Earls Court Exhibition Centre was requisitioned for this purpose.  The Napier Board minutes for 1st April 1943 state that the provision of additional repair facilities at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre had been sanctioned by the Ministry and that this work was now in hand.

Former Trust President Geoffry McGarry worked on Sabre engine rebuilds at Earls Court wartime works until 1946. He wrote “Engines returned from active service had every part closely inspected, was refurbished and despatched as fast as possible in that non stop war time regime.”  The image below was taken of Geoff (bottom right) and his colleagues outside Earls Court during this time.

Geoff McGarry Earls Court 1945


In parallel with the Shadow Factory scheme during World War II, the London Aircraft Production Group (LAPG) was formed in 1940 by combining management of factories and workshops of a series of companies.  The LAPG  was led by London Transport from their works at Chiswick, Aldenham Works  which, as well as building Handley Page Halifax aircraft, accommodated an open air ‘propeller stand’ which was used for Napier Sabre engine testing.

Sabre test stand Aldenham
Raynes Park
Return to Company