Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,113 pages of information and 245,598 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


From Graces Guide
1903. Ford. Detachable Rear-entrance Tonneau. Two-cylinder 8 hp. Photo at the 2011 LBVCR.
September 1916.
1920. Ford radiator.
1930. All-metal passenger monoplane.
March 1932.
1934. Dagenham blast furnace.
June 1939.
January 1944.
February 1944.
March 1944.
March 1944.
April 1944.
June 1944.
Sept 1945.
Jan 1946.
January 1947.
March 1949.
March 1949.
May 1949.
May 1950.
February 1952.
June 1953.
June 1953.
October 1953.
December 1953.


February 1954.
April 1954.
June 1954.
July 1954.


August 1954.


September 1954.
September 1954.
October 1954.
February 1955.
March 1955.
June 1955.
February 1959.
1959. Motor Car Factory at Dagenham.
Oct 1962.
1963. Essential Extras.

This refers to Ford in the UK.

See also

Ford produced Cars and Lorries in the UK from 1911 and was the manufacturing and sales arm of the Ford Motor Company, USA for the UK. The firm both sold and manufactured cars and commercial vehicles for sale in the United Kingdom and other countries.

1903 The first Ford cars, three Model As, were imported into the UK.

1904 Ford's first British agency - the Central Motor Car Co - was established in Long Acre, London.

1906 February. 'The car referred to under the heading of "Cheap Car" is the "Ford," built by the Ford Motor Co., of America. It is handled in Great Britain by the Central Motor-Car Company, London.'[1]

1909 the Ford Motor Company (England) Ltd. was established with an office in 55 Shaftesbury Avenue, London under the chairmanship of Percival Perry.

1909 November. The 1909 Motor Show. 'The exhibits of the Ford Motor Company consist of several models of their new 1910 cars, which are known as model T. The car is of 20-h.p. and remarkably light. The engine has four vertical cylinders....the Ford Motor Company have now opened new and extensive premises at Shaftesbury-avenue, where the new models are to be seen and repairs are executed.'[2]

1910 The first dealership opened in Southampton.

1911 October. 'The Ford Motor Company, who own large works Detroit and Canada, intend to open a motor factory in Trafford Park. Manchester'[3]

1911 An assembly plant was opened in an old Tram factory in Trafford Park, Manchester employing 60 people to make the Model T; the company was re-registered as Henry Ford & Son, Ltd. This was the first Ford factory outside North America.

At first the cars were assembled from imported chassis and mechanical parts with bodies sourced locally, but in 1914 Britain's first moving assembly line for car production started with 21 cars an hour being built.

1912 Advertisement. Ford Model 'T' at £150. Ford Motor Company (England) Ltd, Trafford Park.[4]

1913 September. '...the Trafford Park Wood Works Company, an undertaking which turns out two hundred motor-car bodies per week — chiefly for the Ford Motor Company wwo have a big place in the Park — has purchased by the Ford Company, in connection with their extension and development policy.'[5]

1913 Six thousand cars were produced and the Model T became the country's biggest selling car with 30% of the market.

1914 January. 'A motor car was built in eleven minutes and put on the road in nineteen yesterday at the Ford motor works at Trafford Park, Manchester, thus beating by six minutes the record at the Ford factory at Detroit, U.S.A. In seven minutes the chassis was on the ground and complete in every detail. Four minutes later the body was in position and all was ready for the road. Unfortunately, someone had forgotten to pack the induction pipe, and eight minutes were lost in this fault. At the end of nineteen minutes the engine started, and the car was taken for a run round the works with six passengers'[6]

1914 March. 'Last week a record in motor car construction was established by the Ford Motor Company at Manchester. In a single ordinary working day, without any special stimulus save that of public demand, the company assembled in their Trafford Park Works no less than 110 Ford cars. The assembly included also the fitting of bodies and all accessories. Factory organisation, the finest machinery obtainable, and the strictly standardised form of Ford car, have made this extraordinary European test in motor car building possible. Quite normally in the Manchester works a car will emerge under its own power from the hands of the assemblers, complete to the last detail, period of from 20 minutes.'[7]

After the First World War, the Trafford Park plant was extended, and in 1919, 41% of British registered cars were Fords.

1917 A plant opened in Cork, Ireland, initially for tractor manufacture but from 1921 cars were also built there. This factory was the first to be purpose built by Ford in Europe. It closed in 1984.

1918 December. At Trafford Park there are over 1,300 employees including 200 females.[8]

1923 Although the Manchester plant was served by the Manchester Ship Canal, Ford decided that access to a deep water port was required and in 1923 a new site was chosen by the River Thames at Dagenham, East London. Construction started in 1929, and in October 1931, Britain and Europe's largest car plant opened producing the Model AA truck and Model A car. The company also at the same time changed its name to the Ford Motor Co. Ltd. This was at the height of the Depression and the Model A was too expensive to tax and run in Britain and very few were sold, only five in the first three months. 150,000 Model Ts were built at Trafford Park.

1924 94 percent of the parts used in the Model T came from British suppliers but the horsepower tax hit sales.

1925 April 17th. 'The 250,000 British produced Ford car was completed the Trafford Park Ford factory on 17th April, and to celebrate the event the car immediately started a journey through England, Wales, and Scotland.'[9]

1930 Two Ford three-engined monoplanes were brought into the country via Ellesmere Port; they were intended for demonstration work in Great Britain and on the Continent. They were assembled at the Hooton Park Aerodrome (where the Comper Aircraft Co Ltd. made hangars available to Ford), so the aircraft could be assembled and flown to London[10]

1931 Acquired the premises of the Sussex Aero Club at Ford, near Littlehampton, for a service aerodrome for Ford aircraft.[11]

1933 The Aircraft Department was involved in assembling, testing, modifying and overhauling Ford aeroplanes for England and the Continent. Works at Ford Aerodrome, Ford, Sussex. Head Office: 88 Regent Street, London W.1.[12]

1933 A smaller car was urgently needed and this came in 1933 with the 933 cc Model Y, a car much more suited to the market and becoming in 1935 Britain's first £100 car.

Between 1932 and 1937 over 157,000 were made at Dagenham and Cork and at its peak it captured 41% of its market sector.

WWII: During the Second World War, the Dagenham plant turned out 360,000 vehicles and a new factory in Urmston, Manchester made 34,000 Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.

After World War Two, civilian production resumed and Dagenham made 115,000 vehicles in 1946 and factories in Walthamstow in Essex (later London) and Langley in Buckinghamshire (later Berkshire) were acquired.

1953 Briggs Motor Bodies was purchased, giving the company more control of its supplies and at the same time acquiring further plants at Doncaster, Southampton, Croydon and Romford. By 1953, Ford of Britain directly employed 40,000 people.

1958 Details of the 22-acre site and the Thames Foundry.[13]

1961 Manufacturers of Ford cars, Fordson tractors, Thames and Thames Trader commercial vehicles. Main plant at Dagenham, with one blast furnace, 14 and 18 in. rolling mills, 48 coke ovens complete with by-products plant and two foundries. 56,000 employees. [14]

In 1962, Ford opened a factory at Halewood near Liverpool to make the Anglia. .

Another new factory opened at Basildon in 1964 to make tractors, and in 1965, a further plant was acquired at Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea to make chassis components and axles.

1965 Ford Germany and Ford U.K. collaborated to develop and launch the Ford Transit

1976 Ford Europe introduced the Fiesta, the company's first front-wheel drive car.

1981 Ford transferred all the tractor production from its Antwerp plant to Basildon, making the Essex factory the sole producer of Ford tractors in Europe at the time.[15]

1989 Purchased Jaguar.

1999 Jaguar became part of Ford's new Premier Automotive Group along with Aston Martin, Volvo Cars

2000 Halewood closed as a Ford plant when the last Escort came off the production line in 2000 and it was then converted to make the Jaguar X-Type in 2001

2002 Land Rover joined the Premier Automotive Group.

2006 Ford bought the rights to the Rover name which became part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group.

2008 Sold the Jaguar and Land Rover businesses to Tata Motors

2015 UK plants and employees -[16]

  • Bridgend (Engines) - 2,137 persons
  • Dagenham (Engines) - 1,835 persons
  • Dunton (Technical centre) - 3,500 persons [17]
  • Halewood (Transmissions) - 715 persons

Total: approx 8,500 persons

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 17 February 1906
  2. London Evening Standard - Saturday 13 November 1909
  3. Derry Journal - Friday 20 October 1911
  4. Leeds Mercury - Thursday 07 November 1912
  5. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Monday 01 September 1913
  6. Sheffield Independent - Thursday 15 January 1914
  7. Newcastle Journal - Tuesday 10 March 1914
  8. Nottingham Evening Post - Tuesday 24 December 1918
  9. Belfast News-Letter - Monday 15 June 1925
  10. Flight 14 Nov 1930
  11. Flight 17 April 1931
  12. 1933 Who's Who in British Aviation
  13. Automobile Engineer: 1958/06
  14. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  15. The Engineer 1981/04/09
  16. Ford Corporate web site
  17. Basildon Council