MAKING CARS AT LONGBRIDGE, 1905 TO THE PRESENT DAY
By Ann Evans
Gillian Bardsley, Archivist at the British Motor Museum has launched a new book looking at the past, present and future of Longbridge. Making Cars at Longbridge, 1905 to the present day honours the 110th anniversary of the production of the first ‘Austin’ car at Longbridge as well as the 150th birthday of its designer, Herbert Austin.
The book is written in partnership with Revd Colin Corke, the Vicar of Longbridge and former Chaplain to the factory – and a lifelong car enthusiast. It’s lavishly illustrated with unique images from the official company archive depicting both the car design and the manufacturing process. A section of colour photographs brings to life the various stages in the life of a car, from sketchbook design, through to clay modelling, manufacture and finally its release into the showroom. It is also an amazing social record of those who worked at Longbridge over the years.
The story concludes with the many changes that have taken place since the Austin Plant’s closure in 2005. The area now looks to the future with much of the old site redeveloped for housing, retail and leisure. There’s also 69 acres leased to the Chinese company, MG Motor UK, where initial design
development and some final assembly still takes place.
Social historian, Gillian has a special interest in the rise and fall of the motor industry in Britain and has been Archivist for the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust since 1990. She has contributed to many TV, radio and magazines features. She says: “Whilst my book is about Longbrige and Austin, it is not all dry facts about cars! It is packed full of fascinating photos that capture the social history of the time, and take you back to the fashion, technology and advertising of the day.”
The book, published by the History Press, is available at £17.99 either online from the Museum’s website, in the Museum gift shop or from good local bookshops.
Further details of the British Motor Museum please visit www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk or call