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October 16, 2019
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MG's Abingdon Factory (Those were the days ...)

MG's Abingdon Factory (Those were the days ...)

By Brian Moylan
About the Author

Paperback - 96 pages - 164 colour and mono pictures - 205mm x 190mm

ISBN: 9781845841140

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• Includes many photos taken by employees and kept in private collections
• Reveals the many facets of everyday factory life
• Illustrates the willingness of the employees to adapt to change
• The little known work carried out during the war
• Illustrates the way that the factory governed the mens’ working and leisure lives
• Captions reveal an intimate knowledge of the pictures’ subjects
• An important record of MG history
• Reveals MGs initiative in designing testing facilties to conform to EU & USA regulations
• Tells stories of the generations of families working together in the factory
• Will prove to many people that Abingdon could have still been in the forefront of sport car manufacture


This book is a pictorial study of men and women drawn from all parts of the country to this little known rural town to take part in the building of a motor car. These workers were a mixture of skilled people from the depressed areas of England and Wales together with the few MG car workers who made the journey with the MG from Oxford to Abingdon with its largely farming community. This mixture coalesced to become a workforce that built a legend - The MG. With 160 photos of factory life both car building and during the war effort this is a fascinating story.


The MG, from being a Morris car modified in the corner of a backstreet workshop, evolved into a sports car in its own right. The demand for this fiery little car caused the production to move to four different and progressively larger sites in and around Oxford, finally moving out of the city ten miles away to Abingdon and a factory that might have been custom built for it . This factory was on the site of a tannery that had inflated to over twice its size catering for the 1914-18 wartime demand for its leather products. The coming of peace caused it to deflate back to its previous level of production, leaving empty the rows of large hangars that had housed the wartime production effort. It was to this factory that Cecil Kimber, who had resigned his position as Managing Director of Morris Garages, brought his brain-child that he called the MG. Twin rows of eighteen inch (45cm) high raised tracks were built. The chassis was brought from the workshop where it been made and, after the assembling of its suspension, it was mounted on to the track to start its journey from one stage to the next, finally emerging as a complete motor car. The car would then be tested on the factory s own test track before being deemed fit for its eagerly awaiting new owner. The men who took part in the assembling of the car were but a part of the organisation that went toward the finished article. Managers, Office staff, Storemen, Inspectors, Painters, Test drivers, Labourers and cleaners were all members of the great team, all had their part to play. As they worked together so did they play together, ground was obtained for a football pitch, room was found in the town for a snooker club and a place where the men could join for a well earned drink This later developed into a modern Sports Club with football, hockey and cricket pitches. The risk of fire in the factory was always present and to cope with this the factory had its own fire engine and a full time fireman augmented when needed by a volunteer crew of factory workers, who trained in their spare time. MG Abingdon‘s famous racing reputation gained in the 1930s made it the obvious place to site BMCs Competition department with its maiden venture the 1955 Le Mans 24 hour race. The 160, many never seen before, pictures in this book chronicle every aspect of the factory from its opening amidst great euphoria in 1930 to its closing amidst great recriminations in 1980.

Independent Reviews

"Not many things for £12.99 can make your heard go aflutter but just the cover shots of this nostalgic [paperback] … are enough to send you cheerfully down Memory Lane." – Big End magazine

"The book's 160 photos include many taken by employees and previously kept in private collections. They reveal the many facets of everyday factory life, and illustrate the willingness of the employees to adapt to change, including the little-known work carried out during the war. The captions reveal an intimate knowledge of the subjects, forming an important record of MG history." - Austin-Healey Club of America

"It's an enjoyable and informative look behind the scenes ... An enjoyable book for MG fans who want to know how and where some of their favourite cars were put together." - New Zealand Classic Car

"It succeeds very well, with some nice layouts and superb period photographs, many of which have never been seen before. Moylan takes us right though the history, with a clear passion and enthusiasm for the subject, right up until the factory closed its gates in 1980. This is a cracking little read and a joyous addition to your bookshelf." -

"... provides a fascinating glimpse of motor cars in production and the people who built them - a gem of a story that the MG enthusiast won't want to miss." - Classic MG magazine

"... a wonderful pictorial study of the men and women who were drawn from all parts of the UK to a little-known rural town in Berkshire to take part in the building of a unique series of motor cars ... a 'must read' for all MG enthusiasts." - MG Drivers Club

"The book compares more to looking through the family album with your favorite great-uncle telling you what was happening in each shot. Yes, that's exactly what the book is like and that's exactly what makes it so good." - MGB Driver

"The word fascinating is often overused but for this book it's the only word to describe 50 years of MG factory photos. Get yourself a copy - it's a fascinating read." - Classics Monthly

"This series is to be commended as it carries so many photographs that tell a story, regardless of their quality ..." - The Automobile magazine

"This publication tells its history through a great collection of photos along with excellent and informative captions. A useful publication for readers interested in MGs and in British cars generally." - Australian Classic Car

"Besides the expected shots of MGs coming down the production lines over the decades, this breezy little softback is packed with fascinating shots detailing Abingdon life 'behind the scenes' ..." - Octane


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