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Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 12:59 UK
Halewood plant is great survivor
Land Rover
A row of Freelanders await collection outside the Halewood plant

It all started on 8 March 1963 with a lime green Ford Anglia, driven by Lord Mayor of Liverpool David Lewis.

With a sign on the roof declaring 'Job No1', the Anglia was the first car made on Merseyside and the start of production at Ford's Halewood plant.

The £30m factory was originally intended to employ 9000 workers and has seen many ups and downs since.

46 years on the move to the new Range Rover seems to secure the future of the now Jaguar Land Rover plant.

The factory's story began in 1960 when the British government, responding to Ford's need for a new plant, put forward Halewood as an option, since then the plants fortunes have fluctuated with the economic tide and changes in world trade.

At times the factory has seemed destined to go the way of it's Speke neighbour British Leyland, which closed in 1978, but somehow it has always survived, even if it now employs far less than the 9000 workers it began with in the 1960s.

The Escort years

Production of the Anglia ceased in 1967 and the Ford factory began work on the Escort, a car it would churn out through to the turn of the millennium.

Despite outbreaks of industrial unrest throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s the plant became the European base for Escort and Orion production.

Halewood
An aerial view of the Halewood plant which opened in 1963

By 1997 the plant was home to 5000 workers, a big fall from the 14,500 it employed at its peak.

Uncertainty surrounded Ford's future in Halewood when it was announced that production of the Escort would end, and its replacement, the Focus, would be built in mainland Europe.

In January 1997 Ford announced 1300 job losses at Halewood and with the end of Escort production looming, prospects looked bleak.

It was then revealed that Jaguar, owned by Ford, would begin producing its new X-Type at Halewood.

With a change of name the plants future was once more secure and in 2003 it was announced that 1000 jobs would be created as production began on the Land Rover Freelander.

The fall out from the credit crunch and ensuing recession hit car manufacturing particularly hard and in March 2008 Jaguar and Land Rover were sold to the Indian based group Tata.

Once more there were worries for Halewood's long term prosperity, and in July 2009, 300 jobs went as production of the X-type ended and struggling with falling sales there was a three week shutdown.

The news that the plant will begin making the new Range Rover, puts an end to any uncertainties about the factories medium term future, but it's unlikely to be the end of Halewood's rollercoaster ride.




SEE ALSO
Jaguar to shut one Midlands plant
24 Sep 09 |  Business
Jaguar Land Rover secures funding
11 Aug 09 |  Business
Jaguar announces 300 job losses
15 Jul 09 |  Merseyside
Jaguar Land Rover cuts 450 staff
14 Jan 09 |  England

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