Thursday, October 25, 2012

empty spaces

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I hear today that the Ford motor plant in Southampton is to finally close down, as well as the engine plant in Daghenham, the last part of Fords operations there. Rumours of Fords closing down go back as far as the early 80's so it has been a long time coming I suppose, but again, it is the end of an era.

My Dad started working at the Southampton plant back in the 50's when his Dad worked there as a forklift truck driver and this being before the plant was taken over by Fords. He was already a skilled engineer working on ship engines, but it seemed that the place paid a bit better so he went to work there as a toolmaker. He was at Fords when a large part of the workforce were replaced by robots. I talked to my Dad about his time at Fords a couple of years ago as he was dying and he told me that, I think it was at the Daghenham plant where he had also worked, they employed 13,000 people when he was first there and that these 13,000 jobs were finally reduced to just 200 per shift, or 600 per day.

Only a couple of weeks ago I was having a good look at Daghenham and at what was left of Fords there on Google street view, as it wasn't a place I have ever been to and I was curious to see some of the places that he spent so much of his time. As I cruised slowly along the virtual main road there I could see to my right a huge fenced off space which was concreted and covered with weeds. It appeared to be a huge area and it was only after a while that I began to realise that this empty land wasn't just an old vast car park or something, but was actually where a large part of the car plant had been located and which had now completely vanished. Nothing had replaced the car plant and it was just a vast fenced off empty plot.  All that work and planning and all those jobs and futures were replaced by nothing.