Throwback Monday: Famous Factories

Jag Factory Welcome to Throwback Monday where we take a look at how things once were, or at least how certain famous cars were once built. This week we’re visiting classic Coventry. There is perhaps no more iconic British automobile marque than Jaguar. The company’s origins can be traced back to the founding of the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, which post war took on the name Jaguar. Since then it has seen its ups and downs and many, many custodians. One thing that has remained constant however, is Coventry, the brand’s longtime home. Today we’re looking at how the Coventry factory at one time let the cats out of the bag. In the 15th Century, England’s seat of government was located in Coventry, which itself is located in the aptly named county of West Midlands. That central location and history as a destination engendered the area to become a center of industry and trade. During the Middle Ages it was known for the cloth trade, and later for the manufacture of mechanized clocks. The city’s industry expanded to become one of the largest sources of Great Britain’s bicycle output, a concern that naturally evolved into motorcycle and automobile manufacturing. Triumph Motorcycle began there, and auto brands like Hillman, Riley and Humber all had ongoing concerns there, as did Massey-Furguson who had a tractor plant in the city. Coventry’s most famous auto maker is perhaps Jaguar. The two seem synonymous, and Browns Lane is as well known a name to the marque’s aficionados as Sir William Lyons, the company’s founder. Jaguar stopped building cars there in 2004 but they moved their headquarters back to the city, at their Whitley plant, which also houses the company’s Engineering Centre. Over the years, Jaguar has been independently owned, and then part of BMC which morphed into the industry killer British Leyland. Later Ford tried their hand at maintaining and growing the brand, however seeing the impending global economic downturn looming in the mid-aughts the company divested itself of all its secondary auto company holdings, selling Jaguar along with Land Rover to the Indian industrial company, Tata. Here we have both Jaguar and Coventry in far simple times. This short film shows the manufacturing process at Jaguar’s Brown’s Lane factory. That complex opened in 1951 and served the company until 2004 when it was decommissioned. Jaguar presently builds most of their cars at their Castle Bromwich plant, while what remains of Brown’s Lane now serves as the company’s (and Land Rover’s) Heritage Centre. While the film attempts to stress the mechanization of the plant, what you mostly see are men wielding hammers and stick welders. It’s a throwback to an earlier age of car building, and while the narrator suggests that the plant tour offers an explanation into how Jaguar builds such a high quality product, from today’s perspective you might get a different impression. [youtube][/youtube] Image: Sub5Zero (Thanks Tom!)

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