Report - - Ford Transit Van Factory, Southampton (December 2014) | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Ford Transit Van Factory, Southampton (December 2014)


Behind Closed Doors
Regular User
The history of the site at Swaythling on the outskirts of Southampton dates back to 1939 when Cunliffe-Owen built a factory to assemble aircraft parts. The site manufactured parts for the Spitfire during the war and was bombed many times.

The factory was sold to Briggs Motor Bodies after the war when Cunliffe-Owen was placed in receivership in 1947. Briggs supplied vehicle bodies to the Ford Motor Company. Ford bought the company and hence acquired the factory which now specialised in producing truck bodies to be used with the chassis that were produced at their Slough plant.

From 1965 Ford started to produce the Transit Van in Britain. Bodies were manufactured at Swaythling and transported by road to the Slough plant. In 1972 Ford invested £5 million in the Swaythling plant to enable it to produce the entire Transit Van at a single site. The site employed 4,500 workers during that time until the mid-1980’s.

The site was very compact, being enclosed by the M27 motorway, a railway line, a graveyard and Southampton Airport. This meant expansion was impossible, so parts of the site are built on a vertical axis to maximise the use of space. The paint-shop expands upwards to a height of six stories, rather than the traditional horizontal layout.

In 2002 ford ceased production of passenger vehicles in the UK, and in 2011 announced that production of the Transit Van would shift to Turkey with the exception of the short and medium wheelbase, and Tourneo minibus versions – production of these variants was ramped up at the Swaythling site. As parts of a larger cutback of their European production capacity Ford announced in 2012 that production in the UK would come to an end the following year. The Southampton site produced its final Transit Van in July 2013.

1. A robotic workforce

2. Robots

3. Workspace above production line

4. View along the production line

5. Robots by the side of the production line

6. A lone Kuka robot

7. Futuristic spaces

8. Colourful work areas

9. Part of the transportation system

10. Grease bay

11. Grease bay control station

12. Guages

13. A trio of robots

14. Robot fitted with welding gear

15. More robots

16. Conveyors

17. Bodywork production area

18. Conveyor in bodywork area

19. Army of robots

20. Offices

21. Canteen


Choose life, choose tunnels
Regular User
I've been staying at the Premier just around the corner from this. Thinking to myself "I must stop and look" Turns out the mid-demo'd site is this. Late to the party as ever!


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Great site- I like your pictures :thumb! The factory looks like the machines are just turned off for the night- I'm always pleasantly surprised when there's this much metal left- it goes quickly round these parts!


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Think it was all still there in July so going to try and have a mooch around and do my first report on it, if she's still standing obviously :)


Choose life, choose tunnels
Regular User
Theres still a lot to have a poke at. It looks like the main factory is pretty much gone, but there are many surrounding buildings. Staying at the hotel just up the road, so been watching it as i pass by during the week.


Behind Closed Doors
Regular User
Reminds me on the old Genk plant in Belgium, some things look the same.
I never made it to the Genk plant before it got stripped out, so we were just interested in the old power house by the time of our visit. I should imagine the assembly plant would be pretty similar to Southampton - post up a report, I wouldn't mind having a look.

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Pretty spectacular photos there. Looks like you should do this for a living, those shots are impressive and could promote any business. Nice report. :cool:

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