Paul Horrell 13 April 2012

Watch Longbridge in its heyday

To mark one year since the MG6 rolled off the production line, a look back at Longbridge...

Longbridge

If you thought history was all about monarchs and treaties, you owe yourself seven minutes to watch this.

To mark a year since MG started assembling the MG6 in a corner of the huge old Longbridge plant in Birmingham, our very serious colleagues at BBC Business News have produced this rather captivating slideshow of the history of car-making in the West Midlands.

To be blunt, it isn't what it was.

In the first three months of the year, MG sold 446 cars made here. In the plant's heyday, three months' output would be at least 100 times that much. The peak was 1964, when 345,000 vehicles were made for the year.

BBC News - West Midlands: Motors and Music

Indeed, for much of the 1960s, Longbridge and its sister Austin-Morris plant at Cowley built an astounding one in three of the new cars sold in Britain.

Since then, Cowley has fared better than Longbridge; known by the silly name of BMW Plant Oxford, it's now the home of Mini and built 191,000 cars in 2011.

The video points to other sad West Midlands tales: the old Rootes (then Chrysler, then Peugeot) plant at Ryton was shut down in 2006. But hey, Land Rover and Jaguar are still busy hereabouts.

Anyway, if you can't name all the old cars, see if you can do it for the music. It's all from local bands, carefully matched to the times. A factory full of Hillman Avengers overdubbed to Slade; a lament to the Rover 75 by Ocean Colour Scene. Drag the volume slider to 11.

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