THE PRINCESS Royal has officially opened a new state of the art manufacturing bases at a blaze-hit company in Rawdon.

Princess Anne visited Airedale International’s new premises on Tuesday, touring the plant and meeting staff.

The British cooling systems manufacturer moved into the new 23,000 square metre purpose built premises in January this year following a devastating fire in September 2013.

After a short presentation in which The Princess Royal met the board, she toured the plant to learn how the facility functioned and to see the different types of work carried out. The tour aimed to highlight the importance of the manufacturing industry in the UK economy and the Royal visitor met current and former apprentices.

One of those presented to the princess was Ryan Bartlett, who has spent the last four years as part of Airedale’s workforce, gaining experience as a Design Engineer while working part-time towards a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

He said: "It was an amazing opportunity to have met The Princess Royal. I love working in the manufacturing sector, every day is always different, and it gives me such satisfaction to be part of such a diverse range of projects."

The tour route took in the research and development centre, sheet metal production area, paint plant and coil assembly area, precision air conditioning production line, chiller area, CITB approved training school workshops and classroom, along with the offices.

The royal visit culminated in the unveiling of a commemorative plaque within the reception area joined by staff from all areas of the company.

Speaking afterwards Clive Parkman, Managing Director, said: "It was an incredible honour to receive this visit by The Princess Royal, and one that our employees will remember for years to come. We are very proud of our state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities here in Rawdon, and the teams that run them, so it was a pleasure to be able to present these to such a prestigious guest. We are very privileged that The Princess Royal has taken such interest in our work and the future of British manufacturing.

"We have been working incredibly hard since moving here in January 2016 and this is a great way to celebrate the best of British manufacturing and the dedication and effort each of our teams have put into the business. "

Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council were among the dignitaries for the royal opening of the new facility.