The new Kelly Turkeys processing plant at Great Baddow, Essex, U.K., is starting to processing turkeys five months after a fire destroyed the original plant.

Contractors worked throughout the first weekend of November in time for the inspection by the Food Standards Agency so that the plant could obtain an official license and start processing some 500 turkeys aimed at the Thanksgiving market.

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.  And it came at a time when Kelly Turkeys was also planning to build a processing plant in the United States to help develop a market for their premium 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 Derek Kelly, chairman of Kelly Turkeys.  “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.

“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 Kelly, managing director of Kelly Turkeys, 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 work load.

Paul is currently in the U.S. supervising the processing of turkeys for Thanksgiving on November 26.  He has been pioneering a market for the KellyBronze in the state of Virginia, competing with frozen turkeys that dominate the U.S. market. This year he is planning to sell 2,500 turkeys reared on a 100-acre farm which the company has purchased in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.