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

 

Chemo Brain Quips No2 – Blue Plaque

chemo brain buttonAfter reporting a plaque missing from a one-time Ford (Hendy) building that was requisitioned as a factory for Spitfire parts during WW2 (currently the Voodoo Lounge and Buyology) in Vincent’s Walk, I have been on a mission taking photos of all the plaques I see in Southampton, in case they are stolen by metal thieves. There are a number blue plaques on homes from Emily Davies (feminist activist) to R.J Mitchell (aeronautical engineer designer – famous for the Spitfire). 

I had a call yesterday from a gentleman to tell me that my ‘blue badge’ was ready for collection. (A blue badge is a special disc to put in the car, so that a disabled person with mobility problems can get parked closer to the shops or on limited, designated places in busy areas).

But my chemo-brain could not link this thought thread, and in my head my blue plaque was ready. I told the man kindly that although I had made enquiries because it was missing, I had not actually ordered it myself. He assured me that someone else could collect it on my behalf if they filled out a form. I checked that it was for the Spitfire factory, but he assured me that it had my name on it!  Fame at last? All sorts went through my head until the council worker reinforced the words “blue badge” at least nine times before I realised my disabled parking disc was ready.

He had no sense of humour, when I apologised and pointed out that I suffered with cognitive disorder.

Buyology was used at a Spitfire parts factory from 1939 when it was a Hendy (Ford) garage. It was taken over by F.W Woolworth until  the early naughties and since then has had a number of different  owners.
Buyology was used at a Spitfire parts factory from 1939 when it was a Hendy (Ford) garage. It was taken over by F.W Woolworth until the early naughties and since then has had a number of different owners.