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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 10:28 GMT
Vauxhall car plant shuts
Workers at the Luton Vauxhall plant
Vauxhall moved production to Luton in 1905
The last car to be made at the Vauxhall factory in Bedfordshire rolls off the production line on Thursday.

It marks the end of almost a hundred years of car production at the plant in Luton.

Maintenance worker, Pete Mangan, arriving for his last shift at the plant, said: "It's a terrible day. There's a lot of history here and it's all gone."

Barry Pattni, who runs a newspaper kiosk outside the main gates, said: "It's all very sad. You get to know the people very well here and a lot of them have been working here for many years.

'Emotional time'

"A lot of the older people don't want to retire and you feel for them.

A Vauxhall spokesman said managers also felt the sadness and emotion of the day.

Early Vauxhall
A decoy lorry leaves the works during wartime

  • The plant moved from London to Luton in 1905
  • About 1,000 workers have transferred to the IBC van plant
  • More than seven million cars have been built at Luton
    For more:   'Devastating' blow to community

  • Many of them have been here all their lives and have worked their way up through the ranks and they feel it just the same. It's an emotional time."

    General Motors - which owns Vauxhall - announced two years ago the factory would close because of a fall in demand for the Vectra model.

    About 1,000 workers have transferred to the nearby IBC van plant, which is owned by Vauxhall's parent firm, General Motors.

    Margaret Moran, Labour MP for Luton South, said it was a day of "great emotion" for the town.

    "It is obviously a very difficult time for the people of Luton as we witness the closure of a plant that has been at the centre of life in Luton since 1905.

    Heritage collection

    "I am proud of the great amount of professionalism, dignity and dedication that the employees have shown throughout this traumatic time.

    "The workers' willingness to retrain and explore different job options has been admirable."

    A total of 7,415,045 cars will have been built at Luton when the final vehicle is completed.

    The last car to be built, a metallic silver Vectra, will join a heritage collection of Vauxhall vehicles at a centre in Luton.

    The future of the huge site is still uncertain.

    Click here for more from Three Counties
    See also:

    28 Feb 02 | Business
    What's left of the UK car industry
    20 Mar 02 | England
    End of an era for Vauxhall
    12 Dec 00 | Business
    'Devastating' blow for Luton
    12 Dec 00 | Business
    GM to axe jobs worldwide
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