Report - Ford Transit Assembly Plant, Southampton - Nov 2014

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Got Epic?
Staff member
Nov 15, 2005
Suffolk / Birmingham
Ive written too much about exploring this morning but heres some more epic from the weekend. Like a mini Longbridge but still so vast we managed only to wander and get lost rather then get enough photos for a comprehensive report. Theres loads more to come from here! As im in the industry and work in a car plant every day most was familiar to me but the history of the place alone made it special. The Transit is easily one of the most iconic vehicles ever produced and this is its home about to vanish forever!

wiki said:

The plant, located on a 44-acre (180,000 m2) site near to Southampton Airport, was built as a shadow factory to assemble aircraft components for engineering firm Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft, opened by the Mayor of Southampton on 2 February 1939. At the outbreak of World War II, its whole supply chain was switched to produce parts for the Supermarine Spitfire. Recognised as an important part of the British war effort, it was bombed on a number of occasions by the Nazi Luftwaffe, the first in September 1940. In the latter years of the war, the site was used to assemble the Spitfire.

After Cunliffe-Owen was placed in receivership in 1947, the factory was bought in 1949 by Briggs Motor Bodies, who supplied Ford of Britain with bodies for their vehicles. In 1953 Ford acquired Briggs, and hence gained control of the 630,000 square feet (59,000 m2) Southampton plant.[3] The factory now specialised in building truck bodies, which were attached to the chassis that had been produced at Slough.

From 1965, Ford had started to produce the Ford Transit in Great Britain, with bodies from Swaythling shipped by road to be mated with chassis at the Langley, Berkshire factory, near Slough. In 1972, Ford of Britain invested £5M in the Southampton plant, enabling it to make the complete Transit van. The first Transit rolled off of the production line in the same year, given to the mayor to be used as a gift for a local charity. from this point until the mid-1980s was the height of production, with the factory employing 4,500 workers.

In 1983, with construction of the M27 motorway starting, the site was permanently cut off from Southampton Airport.[3] This made a compact site even more so, with: the motorway to the north; a railway to the south; a graveyard to the east; and pinned in by Southampton Airport. This makes parts of the factory unique, with the paint shop arranged on the vertical axis over six stories, as opposed to the traditional horizontal layout.

In 2002, Ford stopped producing passenger cars in the UK, leaving the Southampton made Transit as their only British-made vehicle.[1] In 2009, with the new Ford Otosan plant in Kocaeli Province, Turkey in full production, Ford resultantly halved production at Southampton and reduced the workforce to just over 500. The 6millionth Ford Transit rolled off of the production line in 2009.

Engines were sourced from either the Dagenham or Bridgend plants. This allowed the factory to produce up to 75,000 vehicles annually, of which 50% were exported.


In early 2011, Ford of Europe confirmed that Southampton would continue to make the short and medium wheelbase, and Tourneo minibus versions of the Transit until the end of 2011. Production of these units was then consolidated to Turkey in 2012, while Southampton was to continue as the European centre for the chassis-cab variant of Transit, with production ramped up to 35,000 units a year.[4]

On 26 October 2012 Ford announced that, as part of a larger cutback of their European production capacity, the Southampton factory would close altogether in July 2013, with production for Europe of all the new Transit models shifted to Ford Otosan in Kocaeli.[5] The last Transit went into production on 15 July 2013 and rolled of the production line on 26 July.


Ship to Paint Conveyor


Donkey Epic


Paint Shop Inspection Tunnel


Spray Booth Control


Spray Booth


Paint Robots


Body Shell Dip Tank For Electro Plating


Body Shop Robots


Underbody Assembly (i think)


Carrier Conveyor


Paint Carrier Repair Workshop


More Workshop Space


Drop Section in the Bodyshop


View From The Door Assembly Line


Jig and Hand Spot Welding


A Van!



28DL Regular User
Regular User
Jun 25, 2012
Re: Ford Transit Assembly Plant - Southampton - Nov 2014

This place looks full of WIN mate! Absolute belter!

Oxygen Thief

Staff member
Oct 17, 2005
Re: Ford Transit Assembly Plant - Southampton - Nov 2014

It's mad how this place very slowly got run down. I spent hours in there (legit, sort of) just walking around. Nobody ever asked any questions, maybe they just didn't care any more?

soylent green

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Jan 6, 2013
Re: Ford Transit Assembly Plant - Southampton - Nov 2014

Quality report and spot on pictures. The only downside to this report is the depressing state of the British manufacturing industry. Rant over:D


Regular User
Oct 2, 2007
Re: Ford Transit Assembly Plant - Southampton - Nov 2014

Since i spoke to you last week, I knew a thread like this would pop up soon! In the space of a month a lot of stuff has vanished, but nevertheless the place has got a lot to give still!


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Aug 12, 2012
Re: Ford Transit Assembly Plant - Southampton - Nov 2014

Quality stuff. Love that 3rd shot, it's something straight out of a si-fi movie

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