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Massey Ferguson Plant
Greenwich Mohawk Brownfield

A testament to a much brighter time in Brantford's history, the former Massey Ferguson plant sits on the south side of the city, rotting away along with the timekeeping building of a former rival, Cockshutt Plow Company. Employing upwards of 3000 people when it finally shuttered its doors in 1988 due to the impacts of dwindling sales and a recession, the fall of Massey Ferguson signaled the start of an era of trouble for Brantford... trouble that the city is only now starting to recover from.

Location attributes for Massey Ferguson Plant
Location   Brantford, Ontario
Built :: Closed   1897 :: 1988
Status   Demolished
Difficulty   ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hazards Risk   ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Security Risk   ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
AUE Rating   ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Massey Ferguson were not the first owners of the plant located at the foot of Murray St, however. That honour belongs to the Verity Plow Company, who relocated there in 1897 when their original facility fell to fire. Sometime after this, but before the turn of the century, Verity joined with at six other agriculture manufacturers to form the large Massey-Harris Company. The new organization continued to operate the Brantford plant, and continued to acquire smaller manufacturers as it expanded - nine more manufacturers merged with Massey-Harris, including Harry Ferguson Limited. For a brief while, the company bore the name Massey-Harris-Ferguson, but this was shortened in the late 1950's to Massey Ferguson.

Years before the closure, however, all was not well. In 1981, the company required a refinancing package to continue operations, and in 1986 a major restructuring occurred that led to Massey Combines becoming a separate company operating at the old factory. But in 1988, Massey was placed into receivership for failure to make debt payments, and the plant was shut down.

23 years later, most of the plant still stands, with only one building having fallen to fire damage. Time has been unkind to the factory, though... water damage is evident, and the roofs sport many holes. The site is classed as part of the Greenwich Mohawk Brownfields, which includes the Cockshutt site, and is slated for redevelopment, although that in itself has been a separate issue.

Now, there are some explorers who would call my visit to Massey Ferguson 'tourism', as I went with a couple of good explorers I know out to an open house event. Previous open houses had everything fully open, so we decided to take advantage of exploring without worrying about being hassled.

How wrong we were. Security was actively kicking people out of the buildings for safety reasons, despite the fact we had signed waivers to gain access to the site. And, after reaffirming with the group that we had not signed waivers to explore the exterior of the site, we did what we do best... gain access. Which wasn't particularly hard, considering that most of the obvious access points weren't covered. It just became a game of cat and mouse, dodging security and some of the other visitors, who felt compelled to point out us being in the buildings to security.

Ultimately, though, three security guards for at least 50 visitors gave us the advantage... and we made full use of it. It's a gem of a site, and a shame that ultimately it will cease to exist. And that end to existence may come as soon as the middle of summer.

Poor Harvest - May 2011
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