In the news: Peugeot closes Linwood
We’ve mentioned the closure of the former Rootes Linwood car plant in Scotland, but the tale deserves further detail. The factory near Glasgow was optimistically opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1963, to make the Hillman Imp. Rootes had been ‘encouraged’ – ie, forced – to site it far away from its Midlands heartland.
That meant employees with little experience of building cars, and unfortunately, this showed in the quality of the product. Early Imps became quite notorious for reliability issues.
The Imp was unable to topple the Mini’s dominance and never sold in the numbers Rootes was hoping for. This lack of success helped Chrysler to take over. It at least introduced Avenger to Linwood, followed by Imp successor, the Sunbeam, but the US conglomerate’s own home country troubles and woeful management style meant the 1970s was a tempestuous time for Linwood. In 1978, Chrysler sold its European arm to Peugeot, which reintroduced the Talbot marque to sell the cars it had inherited. But it also reviewed the entire ex-Chrysler operation and realised there just wasn’t the need for two factories in Britain. It chose to keep Rootes’ old HQ at Ryton, near Coventry, going and shut down Linwood. The closure in 1981 devastated an area almost totally dependent on the vehicle plant for jobs and resulted in mass unemployment. Scotland’s favourite folk rock group, The Proclaimers, immortalised the loss of the factory with the line ‘Linwood no more’ in their 1987 emigration anthem Letter from America.