The demise of Nottingham's cigarette factory that was once was of the city's biggest employers

Demolition of the Horizon Building began in 2018Demolition of the Horizon Building began in 2018
Demolition of the Horizon Building began in 2018
It was the last-remaining cigarette factory in the UK until its closure in 2016

The reality of any industry is that if it fails to move with the times, the times will move without it. 

Over the past half-century England has seen a dramatic decline in heavy industry, from car manufacturing to mining. 

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It’s impossible to pinpoint just one reason for this decline, but u-turns in government policy and environmental concerns are just two factors that have influenced such changes to industry. 

Without demand for products, any industry will struggle. 

Once you throw in government-led laws and initiatives to persuade people against buying products linked to a certain industry, that particular industry is then surviving on borrowed time. 

There are few better examples of this than the story of Nottingham’s Imperial Tobacco Building, known as the Horizon Building. 

The Imperial Tobacco factory opened in 1972The Imperial Tobacco factory opened in 1972
The Imperial Tobacco factory opened in 1972

The factory, built in 1972 at a cost of £14m, was one of the most modern of the time and one of Nottingham’s biggest employers. 

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A late addition to Nottingham’s John Player cigarette empire, the Lenton Industrial Estate factory employed 7,000 people during its peak years of production. 

However the Horizon Factory’s problems began less than a decade after its construction. 

During the 1980s, government campaigns began to spread awareness of the health problems caused by tobacco.

During this time, five of the city’s Imperial Tobacco factories closed, marking the beginning of the end for Nottingham’s tobacco industry. 

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By the mid-2000s, the Horizon Building employed around 1,000 people - a far cry from the glory days of the 1970s. 

The factory’s fate was sealed in 2014 when Imperial Tobacco confirmed that the Horizon Building would close within two years. 

At the time, Imperial Tobacco blamed the closure on “declining industry volumes in Europe, impacted by tough economic conditions, increasing regulation and excise and growth in illicit trade”.

The factory’s inevitable closure in May 2016 cost around 540 jobs and marked the end of cigarette production in the UK. 

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The factory closed in 2016, with demolition work beginning two years later The factory closed in 2016, with demolition work beginning two years later
The factory closed in 2016, with demolition work beginning two years later

The closure also consigned a century-and-a-half of cigarette production in Nottingham to the history books. 

Demolition of the Horizon Building began in December 2018 and the site was sold to Henry Boot Developments. 

The site has now been turned into an industrial and logistics hub called Power Park.