Ford of Britain

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Ford of Britain
HeadquartersEssex, UK
Key peopleRoelant de Waard - Chairman and managing director
Sean McIlveen - director of human resources
Cathy O'Callaghan - director of finance
ParentFord Motor Company
1933 Ford Model Y
File:Ford Pilot ca 1950 extensively restored subsequently.jpg
1950 Ford Pilot
1953 Ford Anglia E494A
1954 Ford Zephyr Six
1960 Ford Anglia 100E
1966 Ford Anglia 105E in Wales
1966 Ford Cortina Mk I in GT trim, with Lotus Cortina-like side stripe

Ford Motor Company Limited was the manufacturing and sales arm of the Ford Motor Company for the United Kingdom and originally also Ireland. The firm both sold and manufactured cars, commercial vehicles, and farm tractors for sale in the United Kingdom and other countries. In 1967, Ford Europe was formed with Ford of Britain became part of the new group.



The first Ford cars, three Model As, were imported into the UK in 1903 and the first dealership in Southampton opened in 1910. In 1909 the Ford Motor Company (England) Ltd. was established with an office in 55 Shaftesbury Avenue, London under the chairmanship of Percival Perry. An assembly plant in an old Tram factory in Trafford Park, Manchester was opened in 1911 employing 60 people to make the Model T and the company was re-registered as Henry Ford & Son, Ltd. This was the first Ford factory outside North America. At first the cars were assembled from imported chassis and mechanical parts with bodies sourced locally, but in 1914 Britain's first moving assembly line for car production started with 21 cars an hour being built. Six thousand cars were produced in 1913 and the Model T became the country's biggest selling car with 30 % of the market. After the First World War, the Trafford Park plant was extended, and in 1919, 41 % of British registered cars were Fords.

In 1917, a plant opened in Cork, Ireland initially for tractor manufacture but from 1921 cars as well were built. This factory was the first to be purpose built by Ford in Europe. It closed in 1984.


Although the Manchester plant was served by the Manchester Ship Canal, Ford decided that access to a deep water port was required and in 1923 a new site was chosen by the River Thames at Dagenham, East London. Construction started in 1929, and in October 1931, Britain and Europe's largest car plant opened producing the Model AA truck and Model A car. The company also at the same time changed its name to the Ford Motor Co. Ltd. This was at the height of the Depression and the Model A was too expensive to tax and run in Britain and very few were sold, only five in the first three months. A smaller car was urgently needed and this came in 1933 with the 933 cc Model Y, a car much more suited to the market and becoming in 1935 Britain's first £100 car. Between 1932 and 1937 over 157,000 were made at Dagenham and Cork and at its peak it captured 41 % of its market sector.

World War 2

During the Second World War, the Dagenham plant turned out 360,000 vehicles and a new factory in Urmston, Manchester made 34,000 Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.


After World War Two, civilian production resumed and Dagenham made 115,000 vehicles in 1946 and factories in Walthamstow in Essex (later London) and Langley in Buckinghamshire (later Berkshire) were acquired. In 1953, Briggs Motor Bodies was purchased, giving the company more control of its supplies and at the same time acquiring further plants at Doncaster, Southampton, Croydon and Romford. By 1953, Ford of Britain directly employed 40,000 people.

In 1962, Ford opened a factory at Halewood near Liverpool to make the Anglia. This closed as a Ford plant when the last Escort came off the production line in 2000 and was then converted to make the Jaguar X-Type in 2001.

Another new factory opened at Basildon in 1964 to make tractors, and in 1965, a further plant was acquired in Swansea to make chassis components and axles.

Commercial vehicles

Ford produced a range of commercial vehicles starting with the Model TT in 1917. From 1933 to 1939, these were badged as "Fordson"s, this changed to "Fordson Thames" until 1957 after which it became plain "Thames" until 1965. From 1965, they reverted to being called "Ford". After the closure of Trafford Park most of the larger commercials were built at Langley. The truck operation was sold to the Iveco group of Italy in 1986 and became Iveco Ford (48 % owned by Ford). The Langley plant closed in 1997.


Passenger cars

Commercial vehicles

Note - cwt is the abbreviation of hundredweight (112 pounds or 1/20 ton)

External links