Top10 Facts you didn’t know about Ford’s Halewood factory
The sister plant to Dagenham and just as important. Here’s why.
1Short of space at Dagenham, where the new Cortina was selling so fast that it was dominating the Essex site, Ford needed an additional assembly plant. It was Government pressure which caused them to choose a greenfield site at Halewood, just 6 miles south-east of the centre of Liverpool, and adjacent to the A561 (Liverpool-Widnes) road. Part of the location strategy was that the new factory was close to the Liverpool-London mainline railway, and could send/receive cars and components on those tracks. Merseyside soon became a centre for car manufacture in the 1960s, for Vauxhall also started building on the other side of the river, and Triumph followed suit close to Halewood itself.
2The first Ford cars — Anglia 105Es (saloons, estates and vans) and, shortly, the new Corsairs — were produced at Halewood in late 1963. Earlier, a ‘pilot build’ facility for the Anglias, had already been run in at another building on Liverpool airport land in 1962. By the mid-1960s, more than 250,000 Anglias were being built at Halewood every year.
3There were always two distinctly separate factory operations at Halewood. The closest to Liverpool was the integrated car assembly plant, while another, alongside it, was a dedicated gearbox manufacturing operation. Links with other Ford factories (components such as engines, or completed cars) were kept by running regular dedicated freight trains on the nearby electrified line.
4Halewood was always the ‘Home of the Anglia’ (later ‘Home of the Escort’), but also saw the building of Corsairs (1963 to 1969), and Capris (1969 to 1976). The Capri tooling and jigging took over from the Corsair in 1968/1969:
“HALEWOOD WAS HOME TO THE CAPRI UNTIL 1976 THE TOOLING TAKING OVER FROM THE CORSAIR IN 1968/1969”
398,440 Capris were eventually built at Halewood before the end came in 1976. Anglia assembly gave way to the Escort in 1967/1968.
5Almost every Escort Twin Cam production car was built at Halewood, between 1968 and 1971, the vast majority being in right-hand drive for the UK market, and painted white. Towards the end of the run, other cars were made available, and a limited number were sent out to Australia in CKD kit form. Twin Cam assembly started on normal Escort production lines, but the shells were later shunted into a special area for the twin-cam engines and special transmissions to be fitted. During 1970, Halewood also assembled the first Escort RS1600s on the same basis.
6Capri assembly started at Halewood before the end of 1968, and soon there was a parallel assembly process in Cologne. Ford’s original flagship Capri, the RS2600, was never built at Halewood, but every other Mk1 — from 1.3-litre to 3-litre — took shape on Merseyside. The last Halewood-built Mk1 Capris of all were the RS3100s, which were built between November 1973 and February 1974.
7Halewood’s transmission plant was split off, financially and physically, from the assembly plant in 2001. It is now a 50/50 operation with Getrag, supplying front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive manual transmissions to Ford, and also to several Getrag customers.
8The Focus, which gradually took over from the Escort, was never built at Halewood, but this did not mean the end for the Merseyside factory, as Escort assembly continued steadily until 2000. Once the Escort had been retired, that marked the end of the assembly of Ford-badged cars in this plant.
9After a corporate re-shuffle, following Ford’s massive investment in Jaguar (which it had bought in 1989), the use of the Halewood assembly plant was re-allocated to Jaguar, where X-Type manufacture was concentrated from 2001. Although X-Types had unique styling, and V6 engines, many had Ford-engineered four-wheel drive, and the underbody platforms and some suspension systems were shared with those of the latest Mondeos, though the Mondeo was never assembled at Halewood.
10Ford sold its interests in Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata in 2008, which included the sale of the Halewood car assembly, but not the transmission manufacturing facility. Jaguar X-Type assembly was always centred at Halewood until 2009, but by that time it had been joined by the Land Rover Freelander. From 2010, after a huge new investment in facilities, it became busier than ever, and has become the manufacturing centre for the best-selling Range Rover Evoque range.
Halewood grew quickly in the ’60s. Ford no longer owns the car assembly plant, but still has a stake in the gearbox manufacturing operation next door.
Painted Mk2 Capri shells roll down the line in 1975.
Picnic on the banks of the Mersey overlooking the impressive Halewood plant? Possibly!
With the Cortina taking over the Dagenham plant, its sister car, the Corsair was built at Halewood over its entire production run.
Mk1 Escorts were built at Halewood right from the start — including Twin Cams and early RS1600s, too.