8 March 2011


Ford UK celebrates 100th birthday

8 March 2011 - Today is Ford of Britain's 100th birthday and this year also sees Ford marking 100 years of vehicle manufacturing in the UK. As it recognises these centenary landmarks in the UK, Ford is confirming its commitment to a country which has made it the market leader in car sales for 34 consecutive years and the commercial vehicle sales leader for 45.

There are parallels between Henry Ford's success with the Model T, in the early 20th Century and the success of the company today, with the Ford Focus, created for the 21st Century. It is the basis for 2.5 million units of global annual production and at the heart of the new Ford Focus are engines and transmissions designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK at Dunton in Essex, Dagenham to the East of London, Bridgend in Wales and Halewood near Liverpool.


Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and within months, had exported the first Ford cars to England. He established the first British Ford dealer, through a company based in Long Acre, in London. The UK quickly became the most important market for Ford cars, outside the United States.

By 1911, Henry had decided to start building cars in Britain. Ford Motor Company (England) Limited was incorporated in London on 8 March 1911 - the first Ford company to be established outside North America. 

Later in 1911, Trafford Park, a suburb of Manchester, played host to Ford's first UK factory with a disused tram works converted to Model T assembly opening in October. Four-man teams built individual vehicles until Henry Ford's revolutionary introduction of the moving assembly line in 1913. By 1914 Ford sales of nearly 10,000 cars were equal to the output of the next six biggest British manufacturers combined.

A few years later, in 1928, Henry Ford oversaw the construction of the "Detroit of Europe" - a new British plant on the banks of the Thames, at Dagenham. Its first vehicle rolled off production lines in October 1931 - a Ford AA truck.


The Dunton Technical Centre was born in 1966. That same year, Ford scored its famous 1-2-3 victory at Le Mans, with the iconic, Ferrari-beating GT40 race car - built by Ford of Britain in Slough and Ford engines powered the top five finishers in the Indianapolis 500. One year later, the Ford Cosworth DFV engine scored the first of a record 155 Grand Prix victories, over 18 dominant years.

Ford's UK automotive industry activity is broader than pure sales. In the UK, Ford directly employs over 15,000 people, many in highly skilled roles developing and building high-technology, fuel-efficient, low CO2 engines. The Ford plants at Bridgend in South Wales and Dagenham in East London have the combined capacity to assemble two million engines annually and one in three Ford cars globally is powered by a UK engine. A further 100,000 jobs are supported through the Ford supplier chain and dealer network.

Ford is investing £1.5 billion in low carbon engineering and manufacturing that will help underpin the UK's manufacturing and export-based economic recovery.

Over 80 years after its opening, Dagenham is still London's largest industrial employer and around 40,000 Ford vehicles (the Transit) are built in the UK each year at the Ford Southampton plant.


Ford Dagenham also provides an example of the company's sustainability strategy. The most economical internal combustion engines Ford produces are assembled in a plant that generates all its own electricity, from wind power. The Dagenham wind turbines produce 6.7 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity each year - which has avoided over 6,500 tonnes of annual CO2 emissions, since 2004.