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Monday, 25 February, 2002, 10:45 GMT
Dagenham farewell: What are your Ford memories?
It's the end of the line for over 70 years of car manufacturing at Ford's biggest UK car plant in Dagenham as the final Fiestas role off the production line.

Dagenham was Henry Ford's first big European car factory and some say it marked the beginning of the Americanisation of the British way of life and came to be seen as a focal point of the UK car industry.

All the famous British Fords were produced at the Essex factory - the Cortina, the Sierra, the Anglia, the Grenada, the fiesta. But now all they will build there are diesel engines.

But the factory, which once employed 34,000 workers, was known for poor industrial relations and a high rate of absenteeism.

What are your favourite Ford memories? Do you think that the closure at Dagenham marks the end of an era?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Thank you Dagenham Ford for the memories, and the car

Bimal Patel, UK
The greatest car ever to come out of Dagenham was the Cortina 1600E. My motto in life was always "Be hopeful with hard work", and thankfully after many years of hard work I was able to buy one. Sadly not in the 70's, but rather in 1992. It took a lot of hard work to restore it to its former glory but it is still in my garage. Thank you Dagenham Ford for the memories, and the car.
Bimal Patel, UK

The only Ford car I owned was a MkII fiesta XR2. I have to say I absolutely loved that car, it was cheap reliable fun and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another Ford again. Although I'm sad that production of Fords has stopped over here. What is happening to UK industry?
Paul, UK

I worked there for around 8 years as a plumber, I found all the guys who worked there a pleasure to work with. Workers of all nationalities got on really well. It's a shame the plant is closing down, I think on the back of it, the whole Dagenham area will be depressed, but hopefully they can rejuvenate the Dagenham complex. By the way we even had a few famous people working there, there was Billy Ocean and the famous Heinz from the 60s.
Peter Mcdonnell, Japan

Dreadful cars... backed by even worse after sales service.
David Norris, Scotland

Ford Capri 3.0S and the Granada 3.0 Ghia - beautiful cars, shame they had to die. Someone mentioned cold leather seats in a Mark one escort - Leather? - Try vinyl seats! The "lovemaking" must have been good enough to distract him.
Mike, Singapore

My best memory is selling just about the worse car I ever owned! Bought from new, my Ford Escort was very ill from day one and never recovered.
K. Jackson, USA ex UK

Having owned several Fiesta's they have seen me through learning to drive, travelling to work and thrashing round the race track. Easy to work on and cheap to maintain and useful and fun.
Andy Black, Oxon

I did love the MkI & II sporty Escorts... RS2000, 1300GT, magic!

Paul Johnson, London, UK
I went to Dagenham in 1979 on a school trip. It was a large site but when I was watching these guys on the assembly line, I thought then "If I don't try harder at school, I'll end up here!" It made me buck up my ideas and work hard to get decent exams. But I did love the MkI & II sporty Escorts... RS2000, 1300GT, magic!
Paul Johnson, London, UK

Mk II Escort estate: lovely car to drive but it hated cold mornings, I don't miss it. Early CVH Escort van: nicely reliable, great fun - when not loaded you could stuff it into bends at speeds that made the jelly mould car drivers with sloppy suspension rather jealous. Shame it died of old age.
Phil, UK

The UK is Fords most loyal customer,they get double the market share here than they get in any other country. It is a shame that Ford is not as loyal to the UK as the UK is to Ford.
Gareth, UK

I think it is a political mistake for Ford to stop car manufacturing in the UK

Keith, UK
Having worked in the Dagenham Body and Assembly plant for part of my career, I have some fond memories of the place. On the whole, the people were great. I was a 'suit' planted there from head office ('the ivory tower') so I was initially met with resistance, but I showed that I was willing to be part of the family and then I was accepted. I think it is a political mistake for Ford to stop car manufacturing in the UK because a lot of people still think of them as a British made car, even if they are driving a Belgian Mondeo or a Spanish KA.
Keith, UK

I remember going there as a kid on a school outing I don't remember what vehicles were being made but I do recall being overawed with the size of the place. And then it became the epitome of all that was wrong with British industrial relations ... how it survived all these years is probably the biggest puzzle!
Mark M. Newdick, US/UK

What will the new generation of Essex boys pick Essex girls up in now?
Ali Wells, Heybridge, Essex, UK

Close the place altogether. I spent a couple of days working in the engine plant installing environmental monitoring equipment and it's the worst place I've ever visited. As well as being extremely rude, most of the engineers and planners I saw couldn't organise a chimps' tea party in a monkey house.
Adrian Smart, UK

The Ford Capri..... What a car, the best I ever had. Absolutely perfect for business and pleasure use. If only the Dagenham plant could be allowed to produce cars of the same standard.
William Bodie, UK

Long live Dagenham Diesels!

Chris B, England
Dagenham: Girl Pipers, Sandy Shaw and tinny cars trickling off a strike-blighted production line. Essex can do better and so can Ford. The era is over - long live Dagenham Diesels!
Chris B, England

My favourite Ford memories? Making love in the 1970s in the back of a Ford Escort MK1 - those cold leather seats!
David LJ, Isle of Man, UK

The Ford Capri when I first started driving - memories of youth. If Ford intend to build all their cars outside the UK for the UK market I for one will not purchase one of them anymore. On holiday touring Europe last year the Germans mostly drove German cars and the French mostly drove French cars. I intend to buy a car built in the UK and support UK industry just like the Germans and French support theirs.
Joe, UK

To me the Dagenham plant brings back memories of strikes and walkouts in the 1970s. I'm surprised that the plant has lasted so long, in fact I'm sure we have been unwittingly subsidising it for years.
Martina, UK


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