Looking for Stories of MG’s Abingdon Factory

Bob Frampton, who lives in Abingdon, is fishing for memories from past workers at the town’s historic MG manufacturer. Frampton has dedicated his retirement to his town’s history is tracking down anecdotes about an iconic car plant.

Looking for Stories of MG's Abingdon Factory

The Oxford Mail has published this story about Bob Frampton and the book he hopes to write.

Peachcroft resident Mr Frampton, 69, said: “I wanted to capture the memories that are not recorded. What people recall.”

The car giant, which is ingrained in the town’s heritage, opened in 1929 until its closure in 1980. The plant produced award-winning MG cars and employed 1,400 people at its height, but was closed by British Leyland following a lack of interest from the American market.

Jackie Smith, honorary archivist at Abingdon Town Council, said: “MG was very important. It represented Abingdon, everybody thought of them together. It was a major blow the way the news came out, they were celebrating their 50th anniversary the weekend before.

“It was quite devastating. At that time it was quite difficult to find work. It was such a family place, fathers and sons would go to work together.”

After advertising his quest just one month ago, Mr Frampton has already had about a dozen people come forward to share their experiences.

He said:

A chap came round my house and we were talking for hours about what he did and what his job was. He worked there for 26 years. He had some silly stories like when a chap from the fire brigade office tried to dry his socks out with an electric dryer and started a fire, or when someone couldn’t get their grease gun to work. He kept popping the trigger and building the pressure when suddenly a great lot of it shot out and knocked his wig off.

Mr Frampton returned to his history roots after retiring from teaching law and business at Abingdon College, a 23-year career which he left in 2004.

He studied a degree in history when he was younger and now volunteers at Abingdon County Hall Museum in Market Place, which has a room dedicated to MG complete with a car model which was air-lifted in.

His published history books about the town include Abingdon in the Great War, The Abingdon Races, Abingdon and the Boer War, and recently-published The Cinemas of Abingdon.

MG enthusiast Richard Martin is chairman of the Abingdon Works Centre which encompasses MG owners from across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.

The 69-year-old, who lives in Abingdon, said:

It was an integral part of everybody’s lives who lived in the town. I grew up with MG around me, all the young people aspired to get the two-seater sports car.

It employed a lot of generations, people met their future wives there and their children came along and worked in the factory. It was very much a family organisation.

So many people come to Abingdon because their car was made here. You only have to go to the MG Car Club to see what it means to people.

Past employees who want to contribute to Mr Frampton’s book can email [email protected].

To read the original story, check out the Oxford Mail.

Staff

4 Comments

  1. I believe that the assertion that the MG plant closed due to disinterest by the American market is not correct. I have read many times, from numerous sources how the American MG dealers and owners fought the plant closing, BUT higher management were all Standard/Triumph men and wanted MG out of the way.

  2. The comment by Kenn Lewis is certainly correct. Even today American owners of MGs are fiercely loyal. The Rocky Mtn. Centre MGCC has 200 members and there hasn’t been an MG sold in this country in 35 years!

    • Totally agree. And, as BMW did with Mini, there are ways it could have been made to work. in fact Mini, Jaguar, and Land Rover all proved that. And to a lesser extent Morgan and Aston Martin.

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