First British-Made Ford Car
Ford Motors had been selling in Britain since 1903, imported from America. By the end of the 20th century’s first decade the Ford UK franchise-holder on London ’s Shaftesbury Avenue was selling several hundred cars a year, prompting Henry Ford’s decision to build his first factory outside the USA.
The chosen site suitably enough was a disused coachworks located on the world’s first industrial estate, Trafford Park Manchester . This was chosen partly because the Manchester Ship Canal which had opened in 1894 made shipping parts there easy – the plant initially was an assembly works for American-made components.
On October 23 1911 the first Ford car made in Britain was produced on the site, a Model T (a vehicle which had made its world debut at Olympia in 1908).
Ford soon found that it made sense to use local suppliers (some of which it bought out) rather than ship parts across America and then over the Atlantic. The Trafford Park plant was a British pioneer of assembly line techniques developed in the USA, which meant that the figure of 3000 cars made in its first calendar year of operation was able to grow to 6000 the next, and by 1914 it had a moving assembly line. Eventually limitations on the Trafford Park site saw Ford relocate to Dagenham in 1931.
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