LONG LIVE LONGBRIDGE!
Steel map commemorating a century of British car production unveiled
Austin and Rover enthusiasts, their cars and former Longbridge employees turned out in force on 16 November to remember the historic site of ‘The Austin’ ( latterly MG Rover) – immortalised in a stainless-steel plaque mapping out the factory perimeter and the buildings within it.
Funded by Birmingham City Council, Arts Council England, Longbridge Public Art Project (LPAP), St Modwen and the Austin Longbridge Federation, the map was unveiled in the retail park occupying the space where Austin’s No. 2 Machine Shop once stood. The display, backed by LPAP, will allow future generations to understand how enormous, (and significant) ‘The Austin’ was to local residents.
It was the brainchild of former factory engineer and exapprentice, John Baker, latterly chairman of the Austin Longbridge Federation (ALF), and creator of the Austin Memories website.
Once his idea had been approved by LPAP and a location had been decided, John was able to design the map, which is to scale. He said: ‘In the end I decided to base the map in circa 1985. It includes some very interesting facts about the factory’s war efforts in the Second World War, which were extremely important, too. I also decided to use 1964 as the basis for some other facts as that was when Longbridge had over ten miles of internal roads and employed 26,300 people.’ A fraction of the original Longbridge factory site is still used by MG Motor UK (and its parent, SAIC) for homologation and emissions testing purposes; the remaining land was redeveloped by property firm St Modwen into housing, shopping centres and smaller industrial units. Nearby Austin Village, built at the behest of Herbert Austin for his workforce during World War One, still stands. longbridge-archives.tumblr.com austin-memories.com
Longbridge Town Centre Car ParkBetween Austin Avenue and Cooper Way (between Marks & Spencer and Poundland) Sat navs: Use postcode B31 2UQ ABOVE The Rev Colin Corke, Vicar of Longbridge, with his 180,000mile Rover 75 Tourer.RIGHT ALF treasurer, Mike Lashford, with one of his Austin A35s. He has driven an A35 of some description since he was 17. Ex-Longbridge engineer, John Baker, unveiled the site’s new map. Display of classics featured pre- and post-war vehicles.