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by Geoff AllenIt was a year ago that the last major remaining section of the MG factory at Abingdon was torn down. At that time, Brian Moylan and Jim Simpson reported in the MGB Driver on what had transpired. Geoff Allen also sent us this report at that time and we offer it now in remembrance of the Abingdon plant one year later.
I spent some time away from Abingdon during November 1997 and as I returned home was amazed upon approaching the old MG factory on Marcham Road to see the site cleared of all the remaining buildings which had formed what was left of “A” block since the closure in 1980. I had heard that the site was to be cleared to make room for the new South Oxfordshire Police headquarters, but it came as a shock to suddenly find the old main assembly building where I had first worked before Rectification was moved to “B” block, had completely disappeared. Fortunately my friend Joe Jackson, who is now retired after many years in the post of Chief engineer of the Pavlova leather Company, had taken numerous photos of the demolition and let me have copies of the best ones. Joe runs an immaculate MGB GT, built in 1979, which is now fitted with a 1990cc engine. Joe has also purchased and donated to the MG Car Club the sign which was for many years displayed between the two works gates on Cemetery Road indicating the entrances to the “Gee” and the “Pav” as the two factories were known in the town. By the time the final demolition of “A” block took place, only the basic nine bays with north light roofs remained along with the Welfare Medical centre and telephone exchange which were built on to the Marcham Road frontage. Up to now as I passed along Marcham Road, the old factory with all its memories was still there. Now it’s just an open space with a white wooden fence enclosing it. Apart from the administration building containing Cecil Kimber’s office (Now re-named Larkhill House), “B” block is still standing although the front is aluminium clad now. Round the back of “B” block it’s like a time warp with the concrete roadway and the steps up to the car park still in place. The only change since 1980 is the benching up of some of the windows. Soon after closure “A” block was used to store common market grain, but that didn’t last for long and over the years it has stood empty and slowly deteriorating. Vandals set fire to the roof in the north west corner recently. The concrete hardstanding to the north has been used for M.G. functions such as the start of the “Old Speckled Hen” runs and International meeting runs but I expect that will end now. The old Pavlova Leather works will be the next lot of buildings to face demolition, probably to be replaced by a housing estate. So after being the scene of tens of thousands of manufacturings, “A” block’s demise means it has joined the old Triumph Motor Cycle factory at Meriden (Coventry). Having owned and ridden quite a few Edward Turner designed twins over the years (proper Triumphs only have two wheels) I feel that my motoring past is rapidly disappearing under new non-motoring developments.
Safety Fast Article about the demolition