Ford Dagenham celebrates 40 millionth engine

The Ford plant in Dagenham has celebrated the production of its 40 millionth engine.

Though the brand name Ford has almost become synonymous with Dagenham, the factory’s purpose in the borough and the outside world has become one of industrial heritage rather than for the mass production of cars.

In its 83-year history the nature and purpose of the site has changed from that of a mass employer, which sparked the expansion of the Becontree Estate, to a shadow of its former significance.

In the 1950s, the company employed 40,000 people, whereas it now employs a mere 4,000 at the site, which opened in 1931.

However, the car manufacturer, which first set sight on the Dagenham marshland in the 1920s, proudly marked the achievement of the 40 millionth engine with a celebration last week.


Joe Greenwell, Ford Britain chairman, said: “Dagenham producing 40 million engines is a significant milestone for Ford’s biggest UK site.

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“Ford Dagenham now produces Ford’s most fuel-efficient engine in the 1.6-litre TDCi unit and exports to 12 countries around the world as part of our global One Ford strategy. This site is helping to power the UK’s sustainable economic recovery.”

The borough’s marriage with Ford began in 1923, when the manager of Henry Ford and Son of Cork, Edward Grace was sent to England to find a suitable site for a miniature of Ford’s main US plant to serve the European markets.

The original 310-acre site was bought in 1924 for �167,695 and was extended early in 1930 when Ford purchased extra land.

A couple of years later the factory, built on 22,000 concrete piles that had been driven 80ft into the marshland, was complete. It had its own blast furnace, foundry, jetty and power station.

On October 1, 1931 the first vehicle to be built at the new plant – a model AA truck, number AA 479001 – was driven off the line by A. R. (later Sir Rowland) Smith, Ford’s general manager.

During the war, Dagenham’s famous Fordsons also accounted for 95 per cent of Britain’s tractor production.

The two millionth Dagenham-built Fiesta, a red Fiesta 1.1. Azura, was produced in June 1995, while the last vehicle rolled out of the factory in February 2002.

Since then, Ford Dagenham has specialised in diesel engines with high fuel- efficiency.

Now, the 473-acre site is home to Ford’s global centre of excellence for diesel engine design and manufacture, Dagenham Stamping Operations, and to CEME, the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence.

More than half of global Ford diesel engine demand is supplied by Dagenham, after having seen the production of some of the most famous Ford vehicles including the Prefect, Popular, Consul, Zodiac, Zephyr, Consul, Anglia, Cortina, Granada, Sierra and Fiesta.

A total of 10,980,368 vehicles have been assembled at the Dagenham plant over the years.