MUCH OF aBiNGDON’s WarTiMe HeriTaGe eNDeD UP iN a skiP
Among the MG Car Club treasures is a vernier measuring scale that’s a little larger than you’d think a firm best known for two-seater sports cars might need. But with the outbreak of World War II Abingdon went from swiftly building TB Midgets to repairing armoured trucks and working on tanks.
Then general manager George Propert wrote in his 1945 memoirs: ‘The plant itself was found to be inadequate, but the class of machine tools that suited our purpose previously was not really suitable for munitions production.
‘Fortunately the years of experience of manufacturing small quantities at a moment’s notice landed us in very good stead.’
MG’s up-for-anything outlook meant it was quickly operating at full capacity, dealing with the Government’s more pressing projects, including assembling US Army trucks, making engine flaps and radiator flaps for Lancaster bombers and converting Centaur tanks into bulldozers. The measuring gauge is one of the tools it made in 1942 for its wartime work – and it nearly ended up being thrown away.The gauge had become redundant once hostilities had ceased, getting hardly any use right up until Abingdon’s closure in 1980, when it was transferred to Unipart’s plant at Cowley.
During the company’s 2014 collapse, the gauge – and a lot of other ex-Abingdon tools – ended up being thrown out. Luckily an MGsavvy apprentice spotted it in a skip. It’s one of the few surviving reminders of how MG did its bit during Britain’s darkest hour.