IBM Greenock

IBM built it’s first factory in Spango Valley, Greenock, in 1951; initially making typewriters, printers and other office equipment, the factory began making PCs in 1981. As production of these shfted overseas, IBM Greenock shifted to making servers and laptops.

IBM sold much of it’s hardware manufacturing to Lenovo and Sanmina, who ran the plant in Greenock until 2006 before pulling out and shifting production to Hungary. 2000 IBM employees still work at IBM Greenock, mostly in a call centre, but the huge manufacturing halls stand empty.

This site is absolutely huge – several football-pitch-sized halls, some on top of each other, linked by enormous corridors and 4.5km of conveyors. I walked over a kilometre end to end – much further with all the diversions. It felt strangely familiar – a long time ago, I was a mainframe systems programmer for IBM…

One production hall:

One of the never-ending corridors:

Loads of elderly laptops still lie scattered about:

Lots of offices still have equipment and paperwork:

Lots of big bits of equipment were also left:

Reception was still neat and tidy:

Security was a bit lax:

Boxloads of components were sitting about:

It felt very festive in places:

The giant automated warehouse:

Which they were very proud of:

I took the obligatory self-portrait:

Part of the dispatch area:

Some places, it looks like they left in a hurry:

A giant strongroom was used to hold processors and memory chips:

Demolition looks imminent:

In the offices, a typical nerd’s desk:

And a bunch of old-school Psions:

In the canteen was this – I think it was some kind of artwork:

And this was for the posh customers:

4 Responses

  1. Inverclyde Council should compulsary purchase this site and refurbish and sub divide it then offer free office or wsrehouse space to new or small growing businesses and attract industry and business to the area. I would take an office!

  2. As one of the PC launch managers, I used to visit Greenock frequently. Eddie Nixon, IBM UK chairman, insisted that the PCs should be assembled and packed by robot so dozens of these huge machines were installed and could be seen doing busy, robotty things and looking mighty impressive. However, when the PS/2 was announced they realised it had no screws, it just clicked together and an experienced assembler could put one together by hand in 15 to 20 seconds. The robots were switched off and pushed into a phalanx, stationary, like a terracotta army whilst half-a-dozen operatives quietly got on and assembled half of Europe’s PC production.

    1. Interesting, I remember going on a school trip in the early ’90s probably and seeing the robots putting monitors into boxes on a conveyor line.

  3. This was the same factory that, at certain pre-arranged times, one could back the car up to a certain door with the car boot unlocked and — if there was an envelope with £50 in used notes in the boot — you could drive off with a full PS/2 Model 55SX system.

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