BAE Systems unveils its new gateway at Washington site

MP Sharon Hodgson unveils a  stainless steel gate guardian at BAE, Washington, with l-r  Simon Miller general manager, Washington Plant,  Lee Smurthwaite operations director and designer Ron Barlow.
MP Sharon Hodgson unveils a stainless steel gate guardian at BAE, Washington, with l-r Simon Miller general manager, Washington Plant, Lee Smurthwaite operations director and designer Ron Barlow.
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SHIMMERING in the sun stands this magnificent structure – inspired by an engineer on Wearside.

The 16ft-high steel gate guardian has been unveiled at defence firm BAE Systems’ Washington site, in Radial Park Road.

Called Airburst, the structure represents the trajectory of a shell and its impact.

The company launched a competition in 2009 for workers to design a gate guardian for its six munitions sites around the country.

Senior munitions manufacturing engineer Ron Barlow, who lives near Beamish, entered.

Ron, 56, who has worked for BAE since 1976, said: “I decided to enter it and just drew a sketch which took about 20 minutes.

“I never thought anymore would come of it, but then I was asked to present my idea in front of our senior management team.”

Airburst was approved by bosses and designers set about making the idea a reality.

Ron, who was joined by wife Sally, 52, for the unveiling, said: “To now be at my workplace and to be able to look out of the window to see my design turned into reality is overwhelming, and something I will never forget.

“I always wanted it to be something that really means something to our employees.

“Loads of people have already mentioned it to me.

“That’s what I’ve always been bothered about – what the lads on the floor think about it. But all the comments have been positive.”

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson was at the site to congratulate Ron on his achievement.