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Fresh start for Mitchell Dryers

Mitchell Dryers

One of Carlisle’s oldest businesses has a bright future thanks to a grant obtained through Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

The prospects for Mitchell Dryers appeared bleak when administrators were called in last autumn and made 27 of the 32-strong workforce redundant.

The firm in Denton Holme, which had been trading since 1859, made industrial dryers for the food, chemical, mineral and pharmaceutical industries.

Administrators from Armstrong Watson blamed a historic pension deficit for Mitchell Dryers’ difficulties, compounded by a lack of orders.

The prospects for Mitchell Dryers appeared bleak when administrators were called in last autumn and made 27 of the 32-strong workforce redundant.

But they believed in the business and began the search for a buyer.

Up stepped CAD Works, based at Kingmoor Park, Carlisle, which bought the intellectual property rights and intangible assets, including its test centre and test centre equipment.

It is building new premises at Kingmoor Park to accommodate the enlarged business, made possible by a Cumbria Growth Fund grant secured after the business sought advice through Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub.

This will part-fund the £1.2m project.

In the meantime, CAD Works is using part of the old Mitchell Dryers’ works.

Company Secretary John Frankland said: “The grant is crucial to the whole project. We need to build the facility at Kingmoor Park to the right size and specification.

Mitchell Dryers“The funds will be used on the first stage of the project to build workshops fit for purpose, followed by second stage offices to accommodate the increase in staffing levels.”

He added: “Our Managing Director, Paul McVittie, started as an apprentice engineer at Mitchell Dryers and worked there for 10 years before he left to set up CAD Works.

“He always kept in touch with the directors and, when the business went in to administration, saw it as an opportunity to diversify into industrial dryers.

“We’ve changed the model from one making every nut and bolt to more of an assembly shop.”

“We’ve changed the model from one making every nut and bolt to more of an assembly shop.”

CAD Works, with 15 full-time staff, has taken on 10 former Mitchell Dryers’ employees and plans to recruit another 11 this year.

The business was established in 1993, initially as a traditional engineering drawing office – clients include McVitie’s and Nestlé.

Over the years industrial pipework and general fabrication divisions have been added, the latter offering a bespoke design and build service for anything from crumpet ovens to conveyor systems and holding tanks.

Cumbria Growth Fund was set up after Cumbria Chamber of Commerce took part in a competitive tendering process to secure £4m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

Mitchell DryersManufacturing businesses have been able to apply for grants of between £10,000 and £1m, to support growth and competitiveness; the minimum when applying directly to an open round of the RGF was £1m – ruling out many smaller projects.

Cumbria Growth Fund has supported 44 businesses with £3.8m of grant funding, helping to create or safeguard 520 jobs and leverage £25m of private sector investment.


The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP. 

The Growth Hub is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.


© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce


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