2015-02-19 15:54:29

Workshops Then and Now

 

The automotive world has changed immeasurably since the first automobiles were introduced.  If you were to walk into a workshop in the 1900’s, it would be a far cry from what we class as the norm today.  There has always been a chicken and the egg scenario with the question, do manufacturers set the trends or do consumers? If you take a walk through history with us now, I think you will agree it is a fine line and a balance of the two.

 

1900

The earliest motor related buildings emerged in the form of purpose built facilities.  These consisted of commercial garages where the company in questions headquarters were based, and as time progressed began to include small showrooms as part of the manufacturing facilities. Until then they had been separate retail outlets of which the majority were constructed from brick and cast iron. 

 

Predominantly, finishing rooms were on the top floor where they had access to the best daylight, but this quickly changed when workshops were constructed around a single storey design, reducing the need for car lifts.  Most workshops throughout this era consisted of a mezzanine level for upholstery work, and had elaborate office blocks that were the focal point of the building.

 

1918

After the First World War, garage interiors kept changing. Assembly lines were introduced, and many became more mechanised with less craft based work. 

 

1930’s

Due to the threat of another war, the government started to financially back many factories, incentivising them to start producing aero engines.  It wasn’t until 1945 that car manufacturing truly resumed, with showrooms starting to have a lot less spent on them and many centres following a utilitarian style.

 

1952

With the British Motor Corporation dramatically expanding, the development of their south works car assembly building was constructed, incorporating a monitor roof.  Most buildings of this time had relied upon artificial light so this was a relatively unseen feature for the time.

 

1960

It was now reasonable that every family home owned at least one car, increasing the demand for automotive service centres.  Carousels and gate line systems were introduced to garages and manufacturers, and some vehicle proving grounds started to be built, including Vauxhall’s Millbrook site in Bedfordshire.

 

1960’s – 1970

The car industry began to struggle with the introduction of many unpopular models.  Due to poor sales during this time numerous closures took place, along with countless employees losing their jobs.

 

1977

Metro Plant in Longbridge was the first British factory to adopt the concept of robotic welding.

 

1980’s

Facilities began to be built in unusual but functional places. Examples of this could be found from Japanese manufacturers Nissan, Toyota and Honda who erected many of their workshops on former airfields.

 

2003

Even recently, luxury manufacturers have adopted interesting architecture, with the likes of Aston Martin at Gaydon, and Rolls Royce at Goodwood.

 

The automotive world has changed immeasurably since the first automobiles were introduced.  If you were to walk into a workshop in the 1900’s, it would be a far cry from what we class as the norm today.  There has always been a chicken and the egg scenario with the question, do manufacturers set the trends or do consumers? If you take a walk through history with us now, I think you will agree it is a fine line and a balance of the two.

 

1900

The earliest motor related buildings emerged in the form of purpose built facilities.  These consisted of commercial garages where the company in questions headquarters were based, and as time progressed began to include small showrooms as part of the manufacturing facilities. Until then they had been separate retail outlets of which the majority were constructed from brick and cast iron. 

 

Predominantly, finishing rooms were on the top floor where they had access to the best daylight, but this quickly changed when workshops were constructed around a single storey design, reducing the need for car lifts.  Most workshops throughout this era consisted of a mezzanine level for upholstery work, and had elaborate office blocks that were the focal point of the building.

 

1918

After the First World War, garage interiors kept changing. Assembly lines were introduced, and many became more mechanised with less craft based work. 

 

1930’s

Due to the threat of another war, the government started to financially back many factories, incentivising them to start producing aero engines.  It wasn’t until 1945 that car manufacturing truly resumed, with showrooms starting to have a lot less spent on them and many centres following a utilitarian style.

 

1952

With the British Motor Corporation dramatically expanding, the development of their south works car assembly building was constructed, incorporating a monitor roof.  Most buildings of this time had relied upon artificial light so this was a relatively unseen feature for the time.

 

1960

It was now reasonable that every family home owned at least one car, increasing the demand for automotive service centres.  Carousels and gate line systems were introduced to garages and manufacturers, and some vehicle proving grounds started to be built, including Vauxhall’s Millbrook site in Bedfordshire.

 

1960’s – 1970

The car industry began to struggle with the introduction of many unpopular models.  Due to poor sales during this time numerous closures took place, along with countless employees losing their jobs.

 

1977

Metro Plant in Longbridge was the first British factory to adopt the concept of robotic welding.

 

1980’s

Facilities began to be built in unusual but functional places. Examples of this could be found from Japanese manufacturers Nissan, Toyota and Honda who erected many of their workshops on former airfields.

 

2003

Even recently, luxury manufacturers have adopted interesting architecture, with the likes of Aston Martin at Gaydon, and Rolls Royce at Goodwood.

 

2013 onwards

There has been a drastic change from the early days of automotive workshops where office blocks were the focal point.  Companies fully appreciate that in order to keep up with demand, efficiency needs to be top priority and so are investing thousands of pounds in well-structured and organised workshops.  Showrooms are much larger than ever before and corporate identity has become paramount, with uniformed style across each site. Offices are often concealed and tend to be the smallest area within a garage and manufacturing site.