Sunday launch for Kelly Turkeys plant built after blaze destroyed original factory in Great Baddow

Father and son team Derek and Paul Kelly of Kelly Bronze Turkeys in Danbury.

Father and son team Derek and Paul Kelly of Kelly Bronze Turkeys in Danbury.

A new turkey processing plant is set to be launched on Sunday - five months after a fire destroyed the original factory.

The new Kelly Turkeys processing plant at Great Baddow will launch on schedule, the firm announced, after contractors worked throughout the first weekend of November in time for an inspection by the Food Standards Agency.

That meant it could obtain an official licence and start processing around 500 turkeys aimed at the Thanksgiving market later this month.

The fire burned the original 20-year-old plant down to ground level and set a major challenge for the company to rebuild in time for the Christmas market.

It also coincided with a plan by the premium turkey company to build a processing plant in the United States to help develop a market for its KellyBronze turkeys in Virginia.

“We wouldn’t have been able to rebuild the plant so quickly without the enormous help we’ve had from all our contractors,” said company chairman Derek Kelly.

“It was indeed very humbling to receive all the offers of help within hours of the fire, and everyone has worked enormously hard to get the project completed on time.

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“It’s really lovely now to see the new plant. We’ve built it on the original footprint, but have been able to make some improvements to the interior which will help the work flow and we have a larger overnight cooling room.”

His son Paul, the firm’s managing director, drew up a week-by-week work schedule to plan for the reconstruction to be completed on time ready for the start of the hectic Christmas workload.

He is currently in the USA supervising the processing of turkeys for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 26. He has been pioneering a market for the KellyBronze in the Eastern coastal state of Virginia, competing with the cheap frozen turkeys that dominate the US market. This year he is planning to sell 2500 turkeys reared on a 100-acre farm which the company has purchased in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.