The United Kingdom once had one of the most incredible motor car industries that the world has ever seen. Indeed, the United Kingdom was effectively the world’s leader in pretty much everything for a good period of time; mostly in railways, aviation and cars. Even building ships was a leading industry in the UK. But as time has gone on, things have certainly changed and it is remarkable how different the motor car industry has changed in the UK. A huge wealth of car companies, such as Morris, Austin, and Sunbeam have all but vanished, leaving behind their legacies, as well as their factories.
The fact that some of these factories still stand should also be seen as pretty remarkable. Not least because typically, they are demolished very quickly to make way for housing estates or shopping malls and supermarkets. These old factories are pieces of history that in some ways deserve to be left alone so that they can remind us of what used to be a magnificent industry.
Not only the factories, but you can also find a rather interesting amount of abandoned cars in the UK, as well. No matter where you are in the country, there may well be a car or two left abandoned to the elements, probably because something went wrong with it and it was easier for the owner to just dump it than try and get it fixed. It’s rather sad, really, much like the abandoned factories. Read on to see what the UK motor industry has left behind.
19 LONGBRIDGE, BIRMINGHAM
Longbridge is synonymous with the UK’s car industry, having long been the place where MGs and various other cars were built. It is particularly synonymous with the brands of British Leyland, which included MG, Rover, Austin, Triumph, and the likes. Think of it like the UK equivalent of General Motors. MG remained the last company to produce cars in the factory up until 2016 when it was announced that production would cease and MGs would be manufactured outside of the UK. Longbridge now sits deserted and abandoned, with shells and complete cars littering the factory—which is still very much standing—in Birmingham.
18 AUSTIN FACTORY, LONGBRIDGE
Austin were the company that absorbed the Morris company, and like a lot of companies, Austin were also at the Longbridge factory in Birmingham for many years. Austin itself went defunct come 1987, and the name is again owned by the Chinese company SAIC. Austin are not as synonymous with the Longbridge site because of not being there for as long as others, but where Austin actually were at Longbridge is in a much more derelict state compared to the rest of the factory’s buildings. Indeed, it is quite remarkable that anything is actually left of the Austin days, although no doubt use was found for the buildings after Austin left.
17 FORT DUNLOP
Fort Dunlop is much like the Morris factory, in the sense it isn’t totally abandoned, but it is very much in use with a different purpose over what it used to be used for. Fort Dunlop was formerly the main headquarters for Dunlop tyres, one of the leading tyre manufacturers in the United Kingdom. The building itself is one of the most amazing structures you have ever seen, and it is remarkable that the building is still standing. Nowadays, it has been renovated and is used mostly as offices, and it is certainly an incredible building in which to have an office. Situated in Birmingham and next to the M6 motorway, Dunlop tyres do still occupy a small part of the building.
16 CARS IN MUD, GATWICK AIRPORT
The Gatwick airport in the UK has faced various issues with companies ripping people off to park their cars near the airport, meaning the cars are not actually in proper car parks. This is what has happened here. Looking at the absolute mess these cars are in, it isn’t hard to see why so many got stuck. The Audi closest to the camera is especially disgusting, and quite a lot of cars have become stuck in these rip-off car parks. It’s such a shame people do extort like this, but perhaps you should be more wary of where you’re parking.
15 ISLE OF WIGHT ABANDONED FORD
Bizarrely, the Isle of Wight has suffered a bit of a problem with abandoned cars. This small Ford has quite visibly been left for a long while, with rust all over the wheels and some visible damage along the side. The problem with people just abandoning cars at the side of the road is that not only are they an obvious eyesore but it is expensive for the local councils. Councils have to somehow get the cars cleared out of the way and moved from wherever they have been left in whatever way they can, which means this Ford, though small, is going to be rather costly wherever it may be.
14 JAGUAR CAR SCRAPYARD
There is nothing sadder than seeing a bunch of abandoned cars, particularly if the cars are wonderful machines like Jaguars. This is exactly what can be seen in this picture, as well as a rather lovely old London bus. Something else that makes me sad is seeing them abandoned for no good reason! Jaguars are some of the most luxurious cars on the market and these older ones have a great classic feel to them. And old double-decker buses are synonymous with the United Kingdom from the 1950s onwards and they are still around today, although in much more boxy forms.
13 LITTERED CARS IN LONDON
It is no surprise that London is full of cars parked all along its streets. After all, it is the capital city of the United Kingdom. However, what may also not be a surprise is that a lot of the cars littered across London’s streets are, in fact, abandoned. It isn’t so often you hear of UK cars being abandoned, because usually even cars that don’t run are kept outside someone’s house or in their driveway. But this car, which isn’t identifiable, has been left in a garage somewhere in the Capital and has gathered an awful lot of dust and grime all over it, which is especially sad as it is clearly a vintage car.
12 SHEERNESS – KENT
Sheerness in Kent is a scene of something quite spectacular. Situated here are cars that have simply been left because no one has been able to find a buyer for them. These cars are effectively waiting to be scrapped as they are surplus to requirements. This has become quite a problem at times in the UK, and it has also become a problem because of the scrappage scheme whereby people can hand in old cars, that usually are not very old, and they can then get a new car whilst their old ones are left in facilities like Sheerness. It is a tragic waste of recourses and materials and very good cars, as well, that could still serve a purpose.
11 RUSTING CLASSIC IN CROYDON
Whatever has happened to this car, it has rusted simply beyond any meaningful recognition. At a push, I could hazard a guess that it may well be an old Jaguar that has been dumped in Croydon, which is an area near London. This is perhaps something councils can be much happier about in a strange way, as nature has mostly claimed what is left of this car and thus it is not so costly for them to remove. But it isn’t good for the environment to have something like this lying around for such a long period of time. Either way, it is no use to anyone anymore.
10 DUMPED IN DARLINGTON
Forgive the rather poor alliteration, but these cars are very much dumped in the town of Darlington in Yorkshire. Darlington has faced a bit of an issue with dumped cars in recent years, much like parts of the Isle of Wight which have suffered from dumped cars such as the Ford we saw earlier. What makes this worse is, again, the cost to the councils, and it’s not something that is going to go down well with those at the very top. It would be handy if the keys were left with some of these cars but most likely, they are also out of fuel, as well.
9 BRISTOL CAR FACTORY
Bristol were one of the most luxurious car manufacturers in the United Kingdom and they produced some of the grandest cars you have ever seen. The factory in Filton was renowned for producing great cars but Bristol also built aircraft, as well, including the famous F.2B fighter from the First World War. Filton itself still exists in some form and the site also had an airfield, too. British Concordes were also assembled at Filton, indeed one, registration G-BOAF, is now in a new museum at the site. But most of the airfield and runway is now gone and nothing is really left of the car plant.
8 TALBOT FACTORY
Talbot are another famous car company, although perhaps not as well remembered as one or two others from the UK. Nevertheless, they were loved in their day and were very much at the forefront of car manufacturing. Ultimately, Sunbeam-Talbot was bought by the Rootes brothers in 1934. The factory, on Barlby Road in North Kensington, London, is a beautifully ornate old building and is very much still standing. The building is now a block of offices, with the Talbot crest above the main entrance. It is remarkable the building has survived considering how many other factories failed to do so.
7 SUNBEAM FACTORY
Sunbeam itself was also a car manufacturer and produced some wonderful motorbikes, as well. Unlike the Talbot-Sunbeam era, they were based in Wolverhampton, in the United Kingdom’s industrial heartland. It was another company that was picked up by the Rootes brothers, and the world Talbot was ultimately dropped from the name in 1954, leaving only the Sunbeam name before the company was liquidated in 1967. The factory was earmarked for renovation a few years ago but progress would appear to have stalled, leaving it standing as a proud reminder of Britain’s motoring heritage. It is a reminder of simply how many companies used to exist in the UK.
6 TVR, BLACKPOOL
TVR are perhaps one of the most famous of all British car manufactures, well known for a great host of sports cars which were sadly let down by their reliability, despite performing well and being highly attractive machines. TVR’s headquarters, for many years, was in the British seaside town of Blackpool, and if you were to visit the site today you’d see plenty of car shells outside, as well as most of the factory buildings still very much standing over the site. TVR are still going in 2019, and a new car is in the works, but the old site is no longer used for the purpose it was first built for.
5 CATERHAM F1 BASE
A slightly different type of car factory, yes, but this one did produce cars and is now abandoned. The Caterham F1 Team was founded in 2010, although it was known back then as Lotus. A couple of years down the road, the team was renamed Caterham and moved to Leafield in Norfolk, where the team remained until its collapse at the end of 2014. Caterham never scored a point in F1, despite getting close to doing so in 2012. A change in direction of car development scuppered the teams season and after falling into administration late into 2014, the team collapsed and the factory was emptied of assets.
4 MANOR MARUSSIA BASE
The Manor team started out, like Caterham, with a different name in 2010, when they were the Virgin team. After two years under that guise, they were rebranded as Marussia and that was how they were named until the end of 2014, when the team fell into administration along with Caterham. The team’s old factory in Banbury was rapidly emptied, and then sold, ironically to the Haas F1 team which is the team’s base when moving cars across Europe. It sat empty, though, for around a year, as somehow the Manor team were saved and rebranded Manor Marussia for 2015 and then Manor Racing for 2016. At the end of that season, they collapsed for good.
3 CARTERS GREEN, WEST BROMWICH
Carters Green is situated in West Bromwich and is famous for being the factory of the Jensen car company. What was left of the factory was shown in an episode of Top Gear, where Clarkson, Hammond and May went on a trip around the UK in old sports cars to revisit their heritage. Carters Green is very much in a sorry state, even more so than what is left of the Longbridge factory. A few buildings do remain still and show off the history of the area, but the Jensen company has long since left the building. Jensen dissolved totally in 2011, but the company as we know it ceased to be in 1976.
2 MORRIS FACTORY, OXFORD
The Morris Factory isn’t so much abandoned these days, but it very much has a different use to what it used to do. Albeit still building cars, Morris are one of the UK’s most loved car brands, and produced such famous cars as the Morris Minor. The factory is situated in the heart of Oxford, and Morris merged with Austin Motors in the mid 1950s. The name Morris, though, which is owned by Chinese automotive company SAIC, was phased out of use properly in 1982. Mini now build cars in the old Morris Oxford plant, and it is nice to see some use still coming out of the site, even if it was abandoned by the Morris and Austin names.
1 TRIUMPH FACTORY
Triumph are another of Britain’s most famous car brands, as well as being famous for motorbikes. Triumph, indeed, still produce some of the finest and most elegant bikes in the world. The original Triumph car plant was situated in Coventry and is very much famous within the motoring industry and now home to the world famous Coventry Transport Museum. Triumph saw a steady decline in the 1980s, as did the majority of the UK’s car companies, and Triumph, unfortunately, could not escape the same fate. Triumph, although acquired by BMW in 1994, actually went defunct when it came to car manufacturing ten years previous to that.