MUCH OF aBiNG­DON’s War­TiMe Her­iTaGe eNDeD UP iN a skiP

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - 7 Brilliant Stories -

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.

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