British Leyland


British Leyland was an automotive
engineering and manufacturing conglomerate formed in the United
Kingdom in 1968 as British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd, following the merger of
Leyland Motors and British Motor Holdings. It was partly nationalised in
1975, when the UK government created a holding company called British Leyland,
later BL, in 1978. It incorporated much of the British-owned motor vehicle
industry, which constituted 40 per cent of the UK car market, with roots going
back to 1895. Despite containing profitable marques
such as Jaguar, Rover and Land Rover, as well as the best-selling Mini, British
Leyland had a troubled history. In 1986 it was renamed as the Rover Group, later
to become MG Rover Group, which went into administration in 2005, bringing
mass car production by British-owned manufacturers to an end. MG and the
Austin, Morris and Wolseley marques became part of China’s SAIC, with whom
MG Rover attempted to merge prior to administration.
Today, MINI, Jaguar Land Rover and Leyland Trucks are the three most
prominent former parts of British Leyland which are still active in the
automotive industry, with SAIC-owned MG Motor continuing a small presence at the
Longbridge site. Certain other related ex-BL businesses, such as Unipart),
continue to operate independently. History
BLMC was created in 1968 by the merger of British Motor Holdings and Leyland
Motor Corporation, encouraged by Tony Benn as chairman of the Industrial
Reorganisation Committee created by the Wilson Government. At the time, LMC was
a successful manufacturer, while BMH was perilously close to collapse. The
Government was hopeful LMC’s expertise would revive the ailing BMH, and
effectively create a “British General Motors”. The merger combined most of the
remaining independent British car manufacturing companies and included
car, bus and truck manufacturers and more diverse enterprises including
construction equipment, refrigerators, metal casting companies, road surface
manufacturers; in all, nearly 100 different companies. The new corporation
was arranged into seven divisions under its new chairman, Sir Donald Stokes.
While BMH was the UK’s largest car manufacturer, it offered a range of
dated vehicles, including the Morris Minor which was introduced in 1948 and
the Austin Cambridge and Morris Oxford, which dated back to 1959. After the
merger, Lord Stokes was horrified to find that BMH had no plans to replace
these elderly designs. Also, BMH’s design efforts immediately prior to the
merger had focused on unfortunate niche market models such as the Austin Maxi
and the Austin 3 litre, a car with no discernible place in the market.
BMH had produced several successful cars, such as the Mini and the
Austin/Morris 1100/1300 range. While these cars had been advanced at the time
of their introduction, the Mini was not highly profitable and the 1100/1300 was
facing more modern competition. The lack of attention to development of
new mass-market models meant that BMH had nothing in the way of new models in
the pipeline to compete effectively with popular rivals such as Ford’s Escort and
Cortina. Immediately, Lord Stokes instigated
plans to design and introduce new models quickly. The first result of this crash
programme was the Morris Marina in early 1971. It used parts from various BL
models with new bodywork to produce BL’s mass-market competitor. It was one of
the strongest-selling cars in Britain during the 1970s, although by the end of
production in 1980 it was widely regarded as a dismal product that had
damaged the company’s reputation. The Austin Allegro, launched in 1973, earned
a similarly unwanted reputation over its 10-year production life.
The company became an infamous monument to the industrial turmoil that plagued
Britain in the 1970s. Industrial action instigated by militant shop stewards
frequently brought BL’s manufacturing capability to its knees. Despite the
duplication of production facilities as a result of the merger, there were
multiple single points of failure in the company’s production network which meant
that a strike in a single plant could stop many of the others. Both Ford and
General Motors had mitigated against this years before by merging their
previously separate British and German subsidiaries and product lines, so that
production could be sourced from either British or Continental European plants
in the event of industrial unrest. The upshot was that both Ford and Vauxhall
ultimately overtook BL to become Britain’s two best selling marques, a
title they hold to the present day. At the same time, a tide of Japanese
imports, spearheaded by Nissan and Toyota exploited both BL’s inability to
supply its customers and its declining reputation for quality – by the end of
the 1970s, the British government had introduced protectionist measures in the
form of import quotas on Japanese manufacturers in order to protect the
ailing domestic producers, which it was helping to sustain.
At its peak, BLMC owned almost 40 manufacturing plants across the country.
Even before the merger BMH had included theoretically competing marques that
were in fact selling substantially similar “badge engineered” cars. The
British Motor Corporation had never successfully integrated the former
Austin and Morris dealer networks, which had led to a plethora of badge
engineered models of otherwise identical cars so that each network would have a
product to sell. This meant that Austin and Morris still, to an extent, competed
with each other and meant that each product was saddled with effectively
twice the marketing and distribution costs that it would have if sold under a
single name. BMC had even carried out very little in the way of dealer
rationalisation – many small towns still had separate Austin and Morris outlets,
which were then joined by former rivals such as Triumph and Rover once British
Leyland was formed. BMH and Leyland Motors had expanded and
acquired companies throughout the 1950s and 1960s in order to compete with one
other, with the result that when the two conglomerates were brought together into
BL there was even more internal competition. Rover competed with Jaguar
at the expensive end of the market, and Triumph with its family cars and sports
cars against Austin, Morris and MG. Individual model lines that were
similarly sized were therefore competing against each other, yet were never
discontinued nor were model ranges rationalised quickly enough; in fact the
policy of having multiple models competing in the same market segment
continued long after the merger – for instance BMH’s MGB remained in
production alongside LMC’s Triumph TR6, whilst in the medium family sector, the
Princess was in direct competition with upscale versions of the Morris Marina
and cheaper versions of the Austin Maxi, meaning that economies of scale
resulting from large production runs could never be realised. In addition, in
consequent attempts to establish British Leyland as a brand in consumers’ minds
in and outside the UK, print ads and spots were produced, causing confusion
rather than attraction for buyers. BL marketing and management attempted to
draw more obvious distinctions between the marques – most notable was the
decision to pitch Morris as a maker of conventional mass-market cars to compete
with Ford and Vauxhall and Austin to continue BMC’s line of advanced family
cars with front-wheel drive and fluid suspension. This resulted in the Morris
Marina and the Austin Allegro. The policy’s success was mixed. Since the
dealership network was still not sufficiently rationalised it meant that
Austin and Morris dealers had their product range halved and found that they
could no longer cater to many previously loyal customers’ tastes. The policy was
also carried out hapzardly: The advanced, Hydragas-sprung Princess began
life in 1975 sold as an Austin, a Morris and a Wolseley before being rebadged
altogether under the new Princess name. The Princess was sold across the
Austin-Morris dealership network, making any distinction between the two even
more vague to many customers. These internal issues, which were never
satisfactorily solved, combined with serious industrial relations problems,
the 1973 oil crisis, the three-day week, high inflation, and ineffectual
management meant that BL became an unmanageable and financially crippled
behemoth which went bankrupt in 1975.=1970s restructuring=
Sir Don Ryder was asked to undertake an enquiry into the position of the
company, and his report, The Ryder Report, was presented to the government
in April 1975. Following the report’s recommendations, the organisation was
drastically restructured and the Labour Government took control by creating a
new holding company British Leyland Limited of which the government was the
major shareholder, effectively nationalising the company. Between 1975
and 1980 these shares were vested in the National Enterprise Board which had
responsibility for managing this investment. The company was now
organised into the following four divisions:
Leyland Cars – the largest car manufacturer in the UK, employing some
128,000 people at 36 locations, and with a production capacity of one million
vehicles per year. Leyland Truck and Bus – the largest
commercial and passenger vehicle manufacturer in the UK, employing 31,000
people at 12 locations, producing 38,000 trucks, 8,000 buses and 19,000 tractors
per year. The tractors were based on the Nuffield designs, but built in a plant
in Bathgate, Scotland. Leyland Special Products – the
miscellaneous collection of other acquired businesses, itself structured
into five sub-divisions: Construction Equipment –
Aveling-Barford, Aveling-Marshall, Barfords of Belton and Goodwin-Barsby
Refrigeration – Prestcold Materials Handling – Coventry Climax
Military Vehicles – Alvis and Self-Changing Gears
Print – Nuffield Press and Lyne & Son Leyland International – responsible for
the export of cars, trucks and buses, and responsible for manufacturing plants
in Africa, India and Australia, employing 18,000 people
There was positive news for BL at the end of 1976 when its new Rover SD1
executive car was voted European Car of the Year, having gained plaudits for its
innovative design. The SD1 was actually the first step that British Leyland took
towards rationalising its passenger car ranges, as it was a single car replacing
two cars competing in the same sector: the Rover P6 and Triumph 2000. More
positive news for the company came at the end of 1976 with the approval by
Industry Minister Eric Varley of a £140 million investment of public money in
refitting the Longbridge plant for production of the company’s “ADO88”
model, due for launch in 1979. However, poor results from customer clinics of
the ADO88, coupled with the UK success of the Ford Fiesta, launched in 1976,
forced a snap redesign of ADO88 which evolved into the “LC8” project –
eventually launched as the Austin Mini Metro in 1980.
In 1977 Sir Michael Edwardes was appointed chief executive by the NEB and
Leyland Cars was split up into Austin Morris and Jaguar Rover Triumph. Austin
Morris included MG. Land Rover and Range Rover were later separated from JRT to
form the Land Rover Group. JRT later split up into Rover-Triumph and Jaguar
Car Holdings. BLCV
In 1978 the company formed a new group for its commercial vehicle interests, BL
Commercial Vehicles under managing director David Abell. The following
companies moved under this new umbrella: Leyland Vehicles Limited
Alvis Limited Coventry Climax
Self-Changing Gears Limited BLCV and the Land Rover Group later
merged to become Land Rover Leyland. BL Ltd
In 1979 British Leyland Ltd was renamed to simply BL Ltd and its subsidiary
which acted as a holding company for all the other companies within the group The
British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd to BLMC Ltd.
BL’s fortunes took another much-awaited rise in October 1980 with the launch of
the Austin Metro, a modern three-door hatchback which gave buyers a more
modern and practical alternative to the iconic but ageing Mini. This went on to
be one of the most popular cars in Britain of the 1980s. Towards the final
stages of the Metro’s development, BL entered into an alliance with Honda to
provide a new mid-range model which would replace the ageing Triumph
Dolomite, but would more crucially act as a stop-gap until the Austin Maestro
and Montego were ready for launch. This car would emerge as the Triumph Acclaim
in 1981, and would be the first of a long line of collaborative models
jointly developed between BL and Honda. By 1982 the BL Cars Ltd division renamed
itself Austin Rover Group, shortly before the launch of the Maestro and
Michael Edwardes was replaced by Harold Musgrove as chairman and chief
executive. Jaguar and Daimler remained in a separate company called Jaguar Car
Holdings, but were later sold off and privatised in 1984.
A rationalisation of the model ranges also took place around this time. In
1980, British Leyland was still producing four cars in the large family
car sector—the Princess 2, Austin Maxi, Morris Marina and Triumph Dolomite. The
Marina became the Ital in August 1980 following a superficial facelift, and a
year later the Princess 2 received a major upgrade to become the Austin
Ambassador, meaning that the 1982 range had just two competitors in this sector.
In April 1984, these cars were discontinued to make way for a single
all-new model, the Austin Montego. The Triumph Acclaim was replaced in that
same year by another Honda-based product – the Rover 200-series.
=Jaguar sale=In 1984 Jaguar Cars became independent
once more, through a public sale of its shares. Ford subsequently acquired
Jaguar. In 1986 BL changed its name to Rover Group and in 1987 the Trucks
Division – Leyland Vehicles merged with the Dutch DAF company to form DAF NV,
trading as Leyland DAF in the UK and as DAF in the Netherlands. In 1987 the bus
business was spun off into a new company called Leyland Bus. This was the result
of a management buyout who decided to sell the company to the Bus & Truck
division of Volvo in 1988.=Rover Group sale=
In 1986 Graham Day took the helm as chairman and CEO and the third joint
Rover-Honda vehicle – the Rover 800-series – was launched which replaced
the 10-year-old Rover SD1. That same year, the British government
controversially tried to reprivatise and sell-off Land Rover, however this plan
was later abandoned. 1987 saw the Austin name dropped on the Metro, Maestro and
Montego, signalling the end for the historic Austin marque, in a push to
focus on the more prestigious Rover badge. In 1988 the business was sold by
the British Government to British Aerospace, and shortly after shortened
its name to just Rover Group. They subsequently sold the business to BMW,
which, after initially seeking to retain the whole business, decided to only
retain the Cowley operations for MINI production and close the Longbridge
factory. Longbridge, along with the Rover and MG marques, was taken on by MG
Rover which went into administration in April 2005.
Many of the brands were divested over time and continue to exist on the books
of several companies to this day.=Ashok Leyland=
The Leyland name and logo continues as a recognised and respected marque across
India, the wider subcontinent and parts of Africa in the form of Ashok Leyland.
Part of the giant Hinduja Group, Ashok Leyland manufactures buses, trucks,
defence vehicles and engines. The company is a leader in the heavy
transportation sector within India and has an aggressive expansionary policy.
Ironically, since 1987, when the London-based Hinduja Group bought the
Indian-based Ashok Leyland company, it is once again a British-owned brand.
Today, Ashok-Leyland is pursuing a joint venture with Nissan and through its
acquisition of the Czech truck maker, Avia, is entering the European truck
market directly. With its purchase, in 2010, of a 25 per cent stake in UK-based
bus manufacturer Optare, Ashok Leyland has taken a step closer to reconnecting
with its British heritage, as Optare is a direct descendant of Leyland’s UK
bus-making division. British Leyland also provided the
technical know-how and the rights to their Leyland 28 BHP tractor for Auto
Tractors Limited, a tractor plant in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh. Established
in 1981 with state support, ATL only managed to build 2,380 tractors by the
time the project was ended in 1990 – less than the planned production for the
first two years. The project ended up being taken over by Sipani, who kept
producing tractor engines and also a small number of tractors with some
modest success. Timelines
=Notes for the timeline table=The car brands of BSA were divested, BSA
was not merged into Jaguar. Mini was not originally a marque in its
own right. See Mini and MINI for more detail.
The BMC trademark is registered to MG Rover Group Ltd in the UK. BMC is also
the name of a commercial vehicle manufacturer in Turkey, formerly the
Turkish subsidiary of the British Motor Corporation. It is believed that Nanjing
Automotive may have purchased this from MG Rover, however the brand has not been
reassigned as of 17 July 2006. The Wolseley trademark is registered to
MG Rover Group Ltd for automobiles only. It is believed that Nanjing Automotive
may have purchased this from MG Rover, however the brand has not been
reassigned as of July 2006 to a different company. The UK building
materials supplier Wolseley plc owns the rights to the Wolseley name for all
other purposes. Wolseley plc is a descendant of the original Wolseley
company. The Vanden Plas trademark is owned by
Ford for use within the USA and Canada, and as to MG Rover Group Ltd for use in
the rest of the world. It is believed that Nanjing Automotive may have
purchased this from MG Rover, however the trademark has not been recorded as
reassigned as of 17 July 2006. This is why Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas models are
branded as Daimlers in Britain. The last Rover to use the Vanden Plas name was
the Rover 75 Vanden Plas, a long wheelbase limousine model.
The Rover trademark was owned by BMW and was only licenced to MG Rover Group Ltd.
BMW sold the brand to Ford in September 2006.
Alvis was purchased from British Leyland by United Scientific Holdings plc in
1981, in 2002 Alvis merged with part of Vickers Defence Systems to form Alvis
Vickers which was purchased by BAE Systems in 2004. BAE Systems did not
acquire Alvis through their ownership of the Rover Group in the early 1990s.
Production of Alvis branded cars ceased in 1967. The trademark is owned by Alvis
Vehicles Ltd. The use of the Triumph name as a
trademark for vehicles is shared between BMW and Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. The
former for automobiles and the latter for motorcycles. The motorcycle and car
business separated in the 1930s.=Merged companies=
The car firms which eventually merged to form the company are as follows.
The dates given are those of the first car of each name, but these are often
debatable as each car may be several years in development.
1895 Wolseley Motors 1896 Lanchester Motor Company
1896 Leyland Motors Ltd 1896 Daimler
1898 Riley 1899 Albion
1903 Standard Motor Company 1904 Rover
1905 Austin 1912 Morris
1913 Vanden Plas 1919 Alvis
1923 MG created by Morris 1923 Triumph Motor Company
1924 BSA used as a car brand 1935 Jaguar
1947 Land Rover created by Rover 1952 Austin-Healey created by Austin
division of BMC 1959 Mini : the car initially launched
as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor became popularly known just
as the ‘Mini’ and BMC recognised this by re-badging the Austin as the Austin
Mini. British Leyland deleted both marque names from the car and creating
Mini as a marque in its own right in 1969.
=Other merger events=Several of these names are now in other
hands. The history of the mergers and other key events is as follows:
1910 Daimler merged with the BSA car armaments-and-motorbikes engineering
company BSA 1931 Lanchester purchased by BSA/Daimler
1938 Morris Motors purchases Wolseley and Riley and from 1943 they are jointly
referred to as the Nuffield Organisation 1944 Standard acquires Triumph, forming
Standard Triumph 1946 Austin acquires Vanden Plas
1951 Leyland Motors purchase the share capital of Albion Motors
1952 Morris and Austin merge to form the British Motor Corporation
1955 Leyland Motors acquires Scammell Lorries Limited of Watford
1960 Jaguar buys Daimler for the latter’s production facilities.
1961 Leyland Motors acquires Standard Triumph
1962 Leyland Motors acquires ACV, the renamed AEC company.
1963 Jaguar acquires the engine and fork lift truck manufacturing company
Coventry Climax 1965 Rover acquires Alvis
1966 Jaguar merged into BMC 1966 BMC changes its name to British
Motor Holdings 1967 Leyland absorbs Rover
1968 Leyland merges with British Motor Holdings to form the British Leyland
Motor Corporation 1969 Joint venture with the National Bus
Company to build Leyland National buses, and also to continue the manufacture of
Bristol buses and Eastern Coach Works Bodies previously built by the NBC
1970s Majority stake in Danish partner DAB, to form Leyland-DAB, producer of
the Leyland-DAB articulated bus 1972 BLMC takes control of Innocenti
1974 Cessation of production of cars in Australia
1975 Publication of the Ryder Report: British Leyland effectively was
nationalised due to financial difficulties, with formation of new
holding company, British Leyland Ltd, later BL plc, with the government as the
principal shareholder 1977 Michael Edwardes appointed as
chairman by Labour Government; begins massive cull of excess BL assets
1982 BL buys out the National Bus Company from the bus plant joint
venture.=Divestments=
1969 The last Riley Elf, 1300, and 4/72 models were built, thus ending the Riley
marque 1975 Innocenti passed to Alejandro de
Tomaso 1975 The final Wolseley, a Saloon, is
built, thus ending the Wolseley marque 1978 A further reorganisation sees Land
Rover being separated from Rover, and established as a standalone company
within BL. Leyland Cars Ltd is renamed BL Cars Ltd, and is split into two
divisions – Austin Morris and Jaguar Rover Triumph.
1979 Collaboration with Honda begins, sacking of Derek Robinson
1978 Closure of Triumph assembly plant in Speke – production moved to Canley
1980 Closure of MG and Triumph assembly plants in Abingdon and Canley
1980 Vanden Plas is discontinued as a marque name but remains as a trim level
name on selected models of other marques 1981 Closure of Rover-Triumph plant in
Solihull 1981 Alvis sold to United Scientific
Holdings and Alvis plc formed 1982 The Priness marque, launched in
1975, is discontinued 1982 Michael Edwardes steps down as
chairman; BL Cars Ltd renamed Austin Rover Group
1982 Leyland Tractors sold to Marshall Tractors, tractor production at Bathgate
assembly plant ends 1982 Production of British Leyland cars
ceases in New Zealand 1983 Closure of Bristol bus plant,
production transferred to Leyland National plant at Workington
1984 Morris Ital goes out of production, signalling the end of the Morris badge
1984 Jaguar floated off; bought by Ford in 1989
1984 Final Triumph Acclaim rolls off the production line, ending the Triumph name
1985 Closure of Bathgate truck assembly plant. Bathgate narrowly avoided a shut
down in 1981, but instead became responsible for engine production and
export market trucks. Leyland’s truck exports then proceeded to collapse as
oil prices dropped, making the end inevitable.
1986 BL plc renamed Rover Group, Austin badges disappear the following year
1986 Leyland Bus floated off; bought by Volvo in 1988
1987 Leyland Trucks division merged with DAF to form DAF NV/Leyland DAF. Vans
became independent as LDV in 1993, as did Trucks as Leyland Trucks. Leyland
Trucks was taken over by US giant PACCAR in 1998 and integrated with Foden.
1987 Unipart, BL’s spare parts division, acquired by management buy-out
1988 Rover Group privatised; sold to British Aerospace
1994 Rover Group sold to BMW, collaboration with Honda ends
1994 Maestro and Montego go out of production.
1998 Metro/100-series goes out of production – the last of the former
Austin models. 2000 BMW decides to break up and sell
the Rover empire; Land Rover sold to Ford
2000 BMW MINI, Triumph, and Riley trademarks retained by BMW, but BMW’s
other interests sold off 2000 Remainder of company became
independent as the MG Rover Group 2007 MG Rover goes into administration
with huge debts, and its assets are taken over by Nanjing Automobile.
2007 SAIC takes over NAC and relaunches production at Longbridge
2006 Ford acquires the rights to the Rover brand name from BMW, though
without any immediate plans for using it on production cars.
2008 Ford completes the sale of Jaguar, Rover and Land Rover to Tata Motors, of
India=Notable BL and BMC and related models=
1948 Land Rover 1948 Morris Minor
1952 Rover 90 1952 Morris Oxford MO
1954 Austin Cambridge 1959 Triumph Herald
1959 Austin Gipsy 1959 Mini
1961 Jaguar E-type 1961 Riley Elf
1961 Wolseley Hornet 1961 Austin Healey Sprite
1961 MG Midget 1962 Triumph Spitfire
1962 Morris 1100 1962 MG MGB
1963 Triumph 2000 1964 Mini Moke
1964 Austin 1800/2200 1964 Rover 2000
1968 Jaguar XJ6 1969 Austin Maxi
1970 Triumph Dolomite 1970 Triumph Toledo
1970 Range Rover 1971 Morris Marina
1971 Triumph Stag 1973 Austin Allegro
1973 Leyland P76 1975 Princess
1975 Triumph TR7 1975 Jaguar XJS
1976–1987: Rover SD1 1980–1990: Austin Metro
1980–1984: Morris Ital 1981 Triumph Acclaim
1982 Austin Ambassador 1983 Austin Maestro
1984 Austin Montego 1984 Rover 200-series
1986 Rover 800-series/Sterling=Competing models=
In some cases, British Leyland continued to produce competing models from the
merged companies at different sites for many years. However, any benefits from
the broader number of models were far outweighed by higher development costs
and greatly reduced economies of scale. Sadly, potential benefits associated
with rationalising parts usage were lost, as for example, the company made
two completely different 1.3-litre engines, two different 1.5-litre
engines, four different 2-litre engines and two completely different V8 engines.
Examples of competing cars were: Morris Minor and Austin A40/Austin 1100
Austin 1300 and Triumph Herald/Triumph Toledo
Morris Marina, Austin Allegro, and Triumph Dolomite
Triumph 2000, Rover 2000, and Princess Triumph Spitfire, MG Midget and
Austin-Healey Sprite Triumph TR6/Triumph TR7 and MG MGB
Rover 3500 and Jaguar XJ6=Badge-engineered models=
In contrast to the continued development of competing models, British Leyland
continued the practice of badge engineering of models which had started
under BMC; selling essentially the same vehicle under two different marques.
Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 MG Magnette ZAWolseley 4/44
MG Magnette ZB/Wolseley 15/50 Morris Oxford MO/Wolseley 4/50
Morris Six/Wolseley 6/80 Austin A99 Westminster/Wolseley 6/99
Austin A110 Westminster/Wolseley 6/110 Austin 1800/Morris 1800/Wolseley 18/85
Austin 2200/Morris 2200/Wolseley Six Austin A55 Cambridge/MG Magnette Mk.
III/Morris Oxford V/Riley 4Wolseley 15/60
Austin A60 Cambridge/MG Magnette Mk. IV/Morris Oxford Farina VI/Riley
4Wolseley 16/60 Riley Pathfinder/Riley
Two-Point-Six/Wolseley 6/90 Austin Se7en/Morris Mini-Minor
Morris Mini Traveller/Austin Mini Countryman
Riley Elf/Wolseley Hornet Austin 1100/Austin 1300/Morris
1100/Morris 1300/MG 1100/Riley Kestrel/Riley 1300/Vanden Plas
Princess/Wolseley 1100 Austin-Healey Sprite/MG Midget
Factories=Volume car production plants=
Abingdon, Oxfordshire. The MG sports car plant. Closed in 1980.
Birmingham Adderley Park. Originally the main Wolseley assembly plant, then the
main Morris Commercial assembly plant, latterly for vans only. Closed in 1972,
when van assembly transferred to nearby Common Lane.
Birmingham Acocks Green, Rover engine and transmissions plant
Birmingham Castle Bromwich, Former Fisher and Ludlow body plant, acquired
by BMC in 1953. Functioned as body plant for Mini and Jaguar models, employing
c9,000 workers in the 1970s, Plant taken over completely by Jaguar in 1977, and
became the main Jaguar assembly plant after the closure of the Browns Lane
Coventry plant in 2005. The plant still employs 2000 workers.
Birmingham Drews Lane / Common Lane. Also known as the Ward End works. The
Plant dates from 1913 and was built by Electric & Ordnance Accessories, a
subsidiary of Vickers. Was then a Wolseley assembly plant, later a
component plant, and in 1968 the Austin-Morris Division’s transmission
plant. In 1972 it became BLMC’s main van assembly plant. Van production was
suspended in 2008 and did not resume, due to the collapse of the LDV Group.
Birmingham Garrison Street, Bordesley Green, c800 workers making Triumph
components. Closed Birmingham Longbridge. Originally the
Austin plant, and at one time the largest manufacturing plant in the
world. The largest British car plant in the 1970s, employing c25,000 workers and
famous as the home of the Mini. Closed upon the collapse of MG Rover in 2005.
Successor Nanjing has restarted limited car assembly on a much smaller scale for
the MG TF. Birmingham SU Carburetters. Bought by
Morris and established at Washwood Heath, making fuel pumps and
carbutetters. Closed early 1980s Birmingham Tyseley, Rover engine and
transmission plant, employing c4,000 workers in the 1970s. Closed mid-1980s
Cardiff. Opened by Rover in 1964 to manufacture transmissions and axles for
Rover and Land Rover vehicles. Closed in November 1984, following major
rationalisation of production facilities within the Austin Rover Group. All
facilities corresponding to Land Rover output were transferred to Solihull East
Works on cessation of Rover SD1 production.
Cowley, Oxfordshire. Formerly comprising the main Morris plant and the Pressed
Steel body plant, and one of the largest British car production sites throughout
the BLMC era. In 1993 the original Morris plant was sold to developers and
demolished, with car production being concentrated on the former Pressed Steel
site which is now owned by BMW and used for assembly of the modern MINI.
Coventry Courthouse Green engine plant. Formerly Morris Engines Ltd., closed
late 1981. The original Gosford Street building is now the Coventry University
Business School’s William Morris Building.
Coventry Browns Lane. Originally a World War II Shadow factory, built for
Daimler, which subsequently became the mMain Jaguar assembly plant. Closed by
Ford in 2005. Coventry Canley. Originally owned by
Standard, latterly the main Triumph car plant and the largest factory in the
city. Closed in 1980. Coventry Radford. Former Daimler plant.
Bus chassis assembly transferred to Leyland 1973, subsequently the Jaguar
engine and axle plant. Closed by Ford in the late 1990s.
Leicester Rearsby Components plant, formerly the assembly plant for Auster
Aircraft. Closed by British Leyland in 1981, subject to a management buyout,
passed to Adwest and closed in 2003. Liverpool Speke. Former Hall Engineering
Group car body plant purchased by Standard-Triumph in 1959, plus new
Triumph assembly plant opened in 1970. No.1 plant became the first major
British BLMC car assembly plant to close, in 1978. No.2 plant continued to
produce bodies for assembly at Canley until closure in 1980.
Llanelli. Radiator and pressings plant opened in the early 1960s, employing c
4,000 workers in the 1970s.Now owned by Calsonic Llanelli Radiators
Solihull, West Midlands. The former Rover plant. A new car assembly line
opened in the 1970s but closed 1981. The original plant survives as the home of
Land Rover 4×4 vehicles, who are now under Tata Motors ownership.
Swindon. Former Pressed Steel Company bodywork plant, now owned by BMW for
manufacture of MINI body panels.=Truck and bus plants=
Alcester, Warwickshire. Former Maudslay plant, latterly making AEC dump trucks.
Sold in the early 1970s. Basingstoke, Hampshire. Former
Thornycroft plant, latterly a specialist heavy truck plant. Closed in 1969.
Bathgate, West Lothian. A new plant opened by BMC in 1961 to manufacture
light trucks and tractors. Tractor assembly ended in 1982, following the
sale to Marshall Tractors who transferred production to Gainsborough,
Lincolnshire. The truck assembly ceased in 1985, and the plant closed in 1986.
Brislington, Bristol. Former Bristol Commercial Vehicles bus plant, initially
25% owned, from 1969 50% owned, from 1982 100% owned. Closed 1983.
Cross Gates, Leeds. Charles H. Roe bus bodywork plant. Closed by Leyland in
1984, but reopened in 1985 as Optare bus plant. Closed in 2011 when replaced by a
new factory at Sherburn-in-Elmet. Fallings Park, Wolverhampton. Former Guy
truck and bus plant. Closed in 1982. Holyhead Road, Coventry. Former Alvis
plant, latterly producing military vehicles. Closed by Alvis plc and
demolished in 1992; site now home of Alvis Retail Park.
Kingsbury Lane, London. The Vanden Plas limousine factory, latterly used to
assemble the Daimler DS420. Closed in 1979.
Leyland, Lancashire. Former Leyland Motors truck and bus plant. Bus
production ceased 1991. Truck manufacture continues under PACCAR
ownership. Lillyhall, Cumbria. Bus plant opened
1970, initially as a joint venture between BLMC and the National Bus
Company to build the Leyland National bus. Closed by Volvo 1993.
Lowestoft, Suffolk. Eastern Coach Works bus bodywork plant, initially 25% owned,
from 1969 50% owned, from 1982 100% owned. Closed 1986.
Park Royal, London. Park Royal Vehicles bus bodywork plant. Closed 1980.
Scotstoun, Glasgow. Former Albion truck and bus plant. Vehicle assembly ceased
1980, but became an axle plant. Now owned by AAM.
Southall, London. Former AEC bus and truck plant. Closed 1979.
Watford, Hertfordshire. Former Scammell plant building specialist heavy trucks.
Closed 1988. See also
Leyland Motors Ltd – Predecessor of BLMC, the article also describes the
commercial vehicles produced by British Leyland
Ashok Leyland Rover Group
MG Rover Group Nationalised industries
References Notes
General How billions failed to fix UK’s car
industry CNN’s European Political Editor Robin Oakley, CNN, 20 November 2008.
Accessed November 2008. External links
Model-by-model history