Saturday 27 October 2012

You may have heard that 750 jobs are to go when Ford close the stamping plant at Dagenham which will only leave the engine plant at what was once Europe’s largest car factory; actual car production stopped ten years ago. At its height it employed around 40000 and it had its own blast furnace with iron ore coming in one end and cars rolling out the other.

For long periods of the 70s wage rises around the country were measured by what Ford workers had got that year.  There was a sign instructing workers to "alight here for Ford" on the platform at Dagenham Heathway station and anyone driving down the A13 knew when they were approaching Dagenham thanks to the huge Ford sign that dominated the surrounding area. Since then the sign on the platform has gone, the A13 has been rerouted, the road sign seems somewhat smaller and the skyline is now dominated by a big wind turbine.

As a Dagenhamite Ford played a significant role in my life, my Grandfather on my Dad’s side moved from Scotland to work on building Ford in the late 1920s. While none of family worked there a large number of my schoolmates’ families did and careers advice at my school consisted of a simple “what do you want to do at Ford's?” Plenty of us paraded along the Heathway in the Ford donkey jackets given by friends and relatives who worked there and you can only imagine that the supplies department must have known what was going on when they got so many requests for a size “small”. And everybody knew that if you had keys for one Cortina there was a fair chance they’d work on any other “Dagenham Dustbin”.

Someday perhaps the only record of Ford of Dagenham will be a few chapters in the history of 70s industrial relations and the film “Made in Dagenham”.  Granddad Jack never liked factories anyway.

1 comment:

  1. The march of the makers Osborne said is what would drag Britain back from the brink.
    They're marching alright! Right out of the front door!!