Car maker Ford has hit 100, as the firm is celebrating two landmarks – Ford of Britain’s 100th birthday and 100 years of vehicle manufacturing in the UK.
In the UK, Ford directly employs over 15,000 people. The company’s plants at Bridgend in South Wales and Dagenham in East London have the combined capacity to assemble two million engines annually and one in three Ford cars globally is powered by a UK engine. A further 100,000 jobs are supported through the Ford supplier chain and dealer network.
Ford of Britain chairman, Joe Greenwell, said: “Ford of Britain has been in the fabric of the nation for over a hundred years. We have a proud heritage and a bright future. Ford of Britain is a major pillar of Ford’s global strategy and the new Ford Focus, centrepiece of the centenary, features advanced powertrains developed and produced in the UK.”
Over 80 years after its opening, Dagenham is still London’s largest industrial employer and around 40,000 Ford vehicles – the iconic Ford Transit – are built in the UK each year at the Ford Southampton plant.
Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and within months, had exported the first Ford cars to England. He established the first British Ford dealer, through a company based in Long Acre, in London. The UK quickly became the most important market for Ford cars, outside the United States.
By 1911, Henry had decided to start building cars in Britain. Ford Motor Company (England) Limited was incorporated in London on 8 March 1911 – the first Ford company to be established outside North America.
Later in 1911, Trafford Park, a suburb of Manchester, played host to Ford’s first UK factory with a disused tram works converted to Model T assembly opening in October. Four-man teams built individual vehicles until Henry Ford’s revolutionary introduction of the moving assembly line in 1913. By 1914 Ford sales of nearly
A few years later, in 1928, Henry Ford oversaw the construction of the “Detroit of Europe” – a new British plant on the banks of the Thames, at Dagenham. Its first vehicle rolled off production lines in October 1931 – a Ford AA truck.
Ford plans a year-long centenary celebration with themed marketing campaigns to highlight this special year. Historical displays will take place at various motoring events and a gala event will take place in the first half of 2011.
Ford-related events are being held around the country including the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, Hampshire and the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, Warwickshire. This year’s Goodwood Revival, the country’s premier historic motoring event, will see a significant number of classic Ford cars take to the circuit, in September.