1900 till 1942
This US car company was founded by Henry Ford in 1903. Two Model A cars were shipped from Detroit to the UK – The first cars to be imported to UK shores. Henry could not have imagined how his company would flourish.
The two Model A's had their debut at Cordingley Automobile show in Islington London, seeing these new car driving around, Aubrey Blakiston was driven to set up a Ford sales agency in Long Acre, London. The agency appointed Percival Perry who eventually took over.
The main problem with Ford cars was they needed to be imported from the US and paid for upfront, however money was scarce, Perry needed to to find funds, therefore he advertised for investors, he succeeeded quite soon and within a short time formed "Perry, Thornton & Schreiber" who acquired the Central Motor Company & relocated to premises in Westminster Bridge Rd, London.
In the meanwhile Ford were developing new cars and technologies, In London 1905 traditional horse-drawn cab was joined by 3 Model B cars, hoping to boost sales in. The Model T had its global debut in 1908 at Olympia Motor Exhibition, this gave Henry and his company the exposure required to be recognised as a major contender, this boosted the sales of cars in Britain. Perry took this opportunity and approached Henry Ford to open a London Branch. Premises were acquired in Shaftesbury Avenue, London a staggering 400 cars were sold within that year. Perry devised a dealer organisation, Percy Hendy, Southampton was appointed the first UK Ford dealer on November 7, 1910.
Britain is formed
It became apparent very early that Perry needed to expand, Henry reconised this need in the UK and built the first Ford factory outside of North America. In 1911, Perry purchased & converted a disused tram garage on the edge of Manchester's Trafford Park. Car production began on October 11, 1911.
The London based dealership Shaftesbury Avenue in London became the showroom of choice & Ford Motor Company (England) Limited came into being.
Assembly in the north & War-time production
In 1911, the cars were made using classic production techniques. Mass manufacturing methods were adopted in 1913 becoming Britain’s first moving production line, the output was 21 chassis an hr by 60 men. The Model T became the best-selling car in Britain taking 30 per cent of the car market. During the First World War.
Trafford Park took advantage and increased their productivity to 100.
Post-war demand soars
The Trafford Park Plant expanded as demand soared after the war and the 1920s, however the US car company were out growing their factory, a 500 acre site on the banks of the Thames, in Dagenham, Essex was chosen.
From strength to strength
As 1924 came to a close the Manchester plant had produced the UK's 300,000th vehicle this continued till the Dagenham factory opening in 1931. Ford relocated their work teams to the south. Special trains were comissioned to carry 2,000 workers, their families and possessions to their new homes and workplace. However they needed more workers many new people were hired from the local areas.
Mr & Mrs Robinson
In 1928 Henry & Clara Ford, travelling under the name 'Mr & Mrs Robinson' visited the British Ford operation, while over they met the King & Queen & political leaders. Henry called on Sir Percival Perry for the task of relaunching the UK as the European hub in December 1929.
The Motor Company Limited (UK) floated on the stock market with a capital of £7 million.
World War II to 1970 - Tanks / trucks
New challenges came for Ford at the beginning of World War 2 at the Dagenham factory. Employment increased from 12,000 to 35,000 due to demand of 360,000 military vehicles - light vans, army trucks, mobile canteens and Breen Gun carriers. Over a quarter of a million Ford V8's were produced, 95% of wartime tractors were made at Dagenham plant. Ford returned to Manchester to build 34,000 Rolls Royce engines to drive Hurricanes, Lancaster Bombers and Mosquitos. A true mark of quality - not one Ford engine failed the RAF standards tests.
As the war came to a close the demand for vehicles increased in the UK and overseas. The first full year of peacetime manufacturing was in 1947, 115,000 vehicles were made at Dagenham. In Feb 1948 Henry visited England to view production, he arrived aboard the Queen Mary.
By the commence of 1950 the USA based car manufacturer had designed an all-new saloon car range, the Consul & Zephyr these had their debut at the Olympia Motor Show in October. By the end of 1953, despite post-war shortages of production materials, manufacturing had risen to over 300,000 units per yr.
Continuing to expand
The company needed to expand their reach due to increasing demand, therefore production was increased at Dagenham, Kelsey Hayes Wheel Company. Ford even took on Subsidiary factories in Woolwich, London & Langley. At Dagenham the floor space grew 4 million sq ft with an increase of 14 000 employee's to 40 000. Up until then car chassis had been supplied by Briggs Motor Bodies since 1931 to 1953, it was decided they should acquire not only the main Briggs plant, also the plants situated in Doncaster, Croydon, Southampton & Romford. This was due to an increase in commercial vehicle sales.
Greater and Greater
Ford needed more space, therefore Aveley and Basildon in Essex were acquired in 1956. The firm were the first UK motor company to pioneer the use of computers, they had a purpose built research and development centre at the old glass works, Birmingham. The new Aveley Parts Centre in the UK shipped its 1st order. September 1959 The 1st in-house computer was installed.
Back to the North, then West
Ford headed back North in 1960 to set up a second car-producing factory. Halewood situated in Merseyside was chosen, Liverpool was ideal for its harbour facilities, adequate supply of labour & central distribution point. The £40 million manufacturing factory rolled its first car out on on March 8, 1963. It was time to extend their vehicle range to include an economical, compact, family car. They weren't impressed with just using the North, Swansea was ideal for an auto plant, this was acquired in 1965 for £10 million.
Ford now had arduous task of modernising the premises and set to work on manufacturing rear axles and car chassis components. Four years on, £10 million extra was invested to expand yet another plant, the Swansea factory. The Belfast plant in 1965 was next, supplier of distributors & carburettors.
The Network in Britain
The US companies operation in Great Britain continued to expand, in 1966 they purchased 20-acres near the commercial plant at Langley & 130 acres at Daventry in Northamptonshire a parts distribution centre. The Research and Engineering Centre was completed in Dunton, Essex in 1966. A revolutionary transatlantic IT link with Dearborn was established, the motor industry’s first IT drafting system.
Performance sports car
Henry Ford II, the founders Grandson, commissioned a specialist design team to build the ultimate mid-engined sports-racing car. The Ford GT, later known as the GT40.
The 1st car to appear after the formation of the 1967 Europe formation was the Escort. The first pan-European car since 1930, the car was built in both Saarlouis, Germany and Halewood, Britain.
1970 and on, and on ....
A range of new cars were released including the Cortina, Capri and Escort, all proved very popular with the British public. In 1976, a new style of car was showcased the Fiesta a first for a front wheel drive small car. The new models were bestsellers' throughout the decade. Ford needed yet another plant for their latest plan performace model in addition to standard cars the designated area was a plant in Bridgend, South Wales, completed in 1980.
The Escort Mk3 gained the title of car of the year 1981, the XR made its debut it was now globally recognisedas the Ford XR3. Sales of the Escort reached 1 000,000 after 13 months the quickest ever million. The Sierra was released with its uniques radical approach to styling, replacing the Cortina in 1982. This new model became the benchmark for family hatchback saloons, it even pioneered the start of the Sierra Cosworth family, the RS500 and the Saphire Cosworth, till its demise in 1993 when it was replaced by the Mondeo. This car and its technological advances enabled the company to develop the Scorpio and Granada ranges in 1985.
expansion yet again
Iveco Ford Truck was formed, with Britain having 48% in 1986 Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd was acquired, 1989 Jaguar Cars had also joined the family.
The 90's saw the launch of Mondeo, within in a short time the car had received numerous achievements this aided the cars sales success. Dagenham in April 1995 engineered its 28 millionth engine and the following year, it built its 10 millionth vehicle since production began back in 1931.
Cosworth joined the Ford family formerly in 1998, however had been utilised since the 80's followed closely by AB Volvo in Jan 1999. In 2001 Halewood concentrated on the Jaguar X Type and ceased production of the infamous Escort. Car manufacturing at the Dagenham plants finally ceased in February 2002. The plant was transformed to a global centre of excellence for diesel engine design and manufacture, a symbol of a new era in production quality.
Success and Heritage
Britain celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Ford Motor Company in 2003, their centenary year.
With 27 consecutive years at the top till 2004 - Britain's best-selling chart for new cars and 4 Ford cars placed in the Top 10 - Ka, Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo and more recently the Puma, Cougar, their MPV the Galaxy and the latest range the ST. This included a Focus and Fiesta, both feature modern styling and punchy engines.
Freelander 2 saves Halewood
Oct 25 2006
Ford Halewood was saved this week amid earlier fears that the company would completely disappear from Merseyside, the launch of the Freelander 2 by Land Rover has secured the future of plant workers for a minimum of 9 years. Ford recently announcing quarterly losses in the region of £3.1bn, leading chief exec Alan Mulally admits the global group is under a very watchful eye. This includes the major possibility of offering other car plants as lenders security, this would improve liquidity and the possible sale price of Jaguar & Land Rover.
Both marques Jaguar & Land Rover are part of Ford Premier Auto Group these are both manufactured at Halewood.
However the quality of Jaguar has dramatically improved since spreading production from the West Midlands to Halewood. The Jaguar X-Type in 2001 started production at Halewood the new Freelander was moved to Merseyside also. The US comapny hope it's global reputation for world class quality could influence Ford management to retain both types.
A Ford Spokesman said "The launch of the new Freelander at Halewood is recognition of the commitment of members in developing world-class skills that are able to see Halewood excel.
"Tony Woodley, general secretary TGWU, said: "In an ever-competitive, and cutthroat market the ability of the UK car industry to compete on the basis of quality of production by a highly skilled workforce is critical.
Halewood is the only Ford site that globally manufactures 2 separate car models on the same production line - It will produce four Freelander 2 models for each Jaguar X-Type. The plant was awarded JD Power European gold award for outstanding quality.
Over the previous 3 years the plant has topped the worldwide internal audit for high quality manufacturing, the plant is seen as a perfect example of best practice.
This achievement opened Halewood Learning Academy, a location where many Ford Europe PAG sites, and suppliers, learn a range of techniques undertaken by the Merseyside factory.