Ford Transit Celebrates 50th Birthday

Workers at Southampton Ford Factory when the One Millionth Transit was produced. BBC photo
Workers at Southampton Ford Factory when the One Millionth Transit was produced. BBC photo

The Ford Transit celebrates its 50th Birthday today – 9th August 2015.

Inside Southampton's empty Ford plant. Photo by Speed - 28 Days Later
Inside Southampton’s empty Ford plant.
Photo: SPEED – 28 Days Later

ford transits

Vehicles at The Port of Southampton awaiting transportation
Vehicles for transportation at The Port of Southampton © Southampton Old Lady
Giant container ships from China arrive regularly at The Port of Southampton to fill British High Streets with imports. They used to sail back empty. But now return with recycled plastic, antiques and British vehicles. © Southampton Old Lady
Giant container ships from China arrive regularly at The Port of Southampton to fill British High Streets with imports. They used to sail back empty, but now return with recycled plastic, antiques and British vehicles.
© Southampton Old Lady
Transits rolling on Chinese Container ship at the Port of Southampton © Southampton Old Lady
Transits boarding Chinese container ship at the Port of Southampton © Southampton Old Lady

Arriving into the City of Southampton via the M27 Motorway, one used to be welcomed by a huge banner, declaring: “Southampton. Home of the Ford Transit.” Passing the Ford Transit factory the tarmac grounds gleamed with rows of white transit vans. The colour was chosen because white was the perfect colour to keep drivers cool in the days before air conditioning. This gave rise to stereotype phrase “white van man”.

The Transit is essential to many British workers. 600,000 of the utilitarian vans are now built globally each year. But sadly local production ceased in 2013 when the Ford Transit plant at Southampton closed. The Plant, which was one of Southampton’s biggest employers, has remained empty now for two years.

‘28 days later’, a website I follow, is full of photos of abandoned buildings. A wonderful photographer who goes by the moniker ‘Speed’ has taken some stunning images inside this defunct plant. (You may want to check out his best 100 photos): http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/a-life-in-ruins-100-photos-from-10-years-of-exploring-the-uk.t93530

There is a current campaign to get the old Ford plant chosen for the new production of a revival of the 60s Aston Martin – the main demand for this ‘James Bond’ car mainly coming from China. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/13573355.Campaign_launched_to_bring_Aston_Martin_factory_to_Southampton/

007's Aston Martin
007’s Aston Martin

Giant container ships from China arrive regularly at The Port of Southampton to fill British High Streets with imports. They used to sail back empty. But now return with recycled plastic, antiques and British vehicles.

UPDATE December 2015

ford factory demolition

Sadlly the Aston Martin project did not go ahead. The Factory has been pulled down. R I P

 

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7 thoughts on “Ford Transit Celebrates 50th Birthday

  1. This is so interesting. Where I live and work, I often have a look at ships transiting the Houston Ship Channel, and many of them are bringing cars to the Port of Houston. Car carriers look so unstable to me — like big, floating shoe boxes — but I guess they know their business.

    I love ports. One of my acquaintances is a Houston ship pilot, and his photos of ships on the channel are great.

    I hope your factory gets repurposed soon. It can happen. Plants in my home town/state, that used to make Maytag appliances, now are being used to manufacture the big blades for windmills.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The empty car making factory is such an important part of history. Thank you for sharing this. I hope it is used to make new things too in the future. It’s interesting that plastic is shipped to China for use when it is a material we regard as being so disposable and cheap. Love this post, so interesting. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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