Austin Federation 2011.

 Members Area:






Spring - March 2011 - Issue 1

For all those with an interest in the history, products &
workers of the motor vehicle factory at Longbridge

MG 80th Anniversary - 2004 brochure






From the Chairman ………………………………..............................................2
Rover Community Action Trust - RCAT……..……………………….........   3
The POL - Pride Of Longbridge Rally………………………………...............4
Around The Clubs - Vanden Plas Owners‘ Club…………………........... 5-6
Forthcoming Events - 2011.……………………………....................................7
Austin Ex-Apprentices - Invitation to the GWR Shed Visit……...........  8-10
Longbridge in the news - Longbridge Redevelopment……………..…...11
Longbridge in the news - MG Birmingham …………..……….....……........12
Tata Motors invest in Engineers at Warwick……………….……………....13
There’s Something About A Maxi - or so it says here………….................14
Austin Obituary - John Barnett C Eng MI Mech E………………………....15
A Thirties Bank Holiday - London to Edinburgh in a racing Seven...16-20
Longbridge Christmas Quiz - The Answers.................………………….....21
About Us - The Federation aims and objectives………………………......22

From the Chairman

Dear Reader
Welcome to our April edition of the newsletter.
This time of the year we work with RCAT to bring you the annual Pride of
Longbridge event. It is on 16
th April 2011 in Cofton Park, so please bring along
your vehicle, whether it’s an Austin, Morris, BMC or MG-Rover, etc. Just come
along to this free event, no booking required.

If you just want to look at the various vehicles on display, please could you park in Lowhill Lane. The entrance for vehicles to the park, is the normal one, but to reduce congestion, there will be a new exit from the park.

So please come along and enjoy the day, starting at 10.00am and finishing at

John Baker






Over the past 6 years, RCAT has been working hard to support the communities that have been affected by the Closure of MG Rover in 05. We have been made a positive impact whilst been voice for the community and a sign posting service.

We are putting together our RCAT on Wheels outreach programme whilst still
organising activities for all age groups and working closely with partner’s i.e.
Birmingham City Council Support Services. If you have some spare time and
would like to volunteer please send an email.

Due to the needs of our community changing, we have taken a step back to lookat our vision, which we are working on at present.

RCAT, are also working closely with the Unions and those who are involved
about the Pheonix Trust we will keep you updated when we have some news.
We look forward to seeing you at the Pride Of Longbridge 2011 where we
celebrate the great that came out of Longbridge and workers and enthusiast
come together and share many memories and thoughts.

Gemma Cartwright MBE







Please Note: there is no convoy to the Park - Please Come Direct

Longbridge closed abruptly in 2005, making a whole community redundant.
Since then the Longbridge area has seen enormous changes, with workers
retraining and various areas being redeveloped. This year MG Motors will be
producing the MG6 saloon in the next few months.

‘The Austin’ flourished between 1905 and 2005. No other UK plant is as
significant to British and world motor industry history, producing iconic cars that motorised the masses and revolutionised the very idea of what a car could be, with the Austin Seven in 1922 and the Mini in 1959.

The Pride of Longbridge Rally celebrates those great achievements, enabling the community to gather in Cofton Park to enjoy vehicles they and their ancestors created. The event is arranged for the Saturday nearest to the date on which the majority of Longbridge workforce were made redundant in 2005. All vehicles with a Longbridge connection are very welcome, from Austin 7s to Rover 75s, MGFs to Austin Devons, MGBs to Vanden Plas Princess Limousines, along with famous makes like Morris, Wolseley, Riley, Honda and the full range of Austin core vehicles.

We are expecting about 1,000 vehicles, so please come and join us. If you are
just coming to view the cars, please can you park in Lowhill Lane and walk to the event.





Around the Clubs - The Vanden Plas Owners Club

The club was formed in 1980 and caters for all vehicles with coachwork by
Vanden Plas from 1923 up to those produced by BMC, British Leyland and
Austin Rover. Any person owning such a car is eligible for membership, or
anyone expressing an interest in the marque may become an associate member.

Founded in Belgium, the English company was formed in 1913 and moved to
Kingsbury, north London, in 1923 where it remained until 1979, when production was transferred to Abingdon. In 1946 Vanden Plas had become a subsidiary of Austin Motors.

Aims of the Club

 Help and encourage members to maintain these fine cars in good running
order and appearance.

 Organise rallies and meetings nationwide, and to field an annual Show Day.
Members can compete at these events for trophies, these being awarded for
the best cars in restoration, and most used classes.

 Offer technical advice to those people seeking help. We also help those not
wishing to carry out their own repairs, as some of our members are motor
engineers and specialise in the various models within the club.

 Facilitate the sale of spares through the club magazine - several of our
members have stocks of spares for sale.

Like the Rover 200 & 400 club we held our 30th Anniversary show-day last
August at RAF Cosford. A couple of pictures are included here.

Next year our show weekend will be held on the last weekend in July at Moira

Bryan Peebles
Membership Secretary, Editor, Archivist, Treasurer,
Vanden Plas Owners Club





VDP at Cosford 2010: Above - the line-up. Below - Best In Show a 4 litre R





Forthcoming Events 2011.

Date Event Contact
16 April

Pride of Longbridge presented jointly by Austin-Longbridge Federation and RCAT


16 -17 April BRISTOL CLASSIC CAR SHOW Royal Bath and West Showground - Shepton Mallet  
17 April DRIVE - IT - DAY - EVENTS. Ask your Club - events everywhere
Lord Mayor Birmingham -
Clubs call Alan Billington- Individuals call Tom Griffiths -
12 May

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) Shed Visit - Thursday 7pm - Toddington Austin Ex-Apprentices Association invitation event.

Austin Ex-Apprentices Association -
Tony Osborne


22 May 1941

David Kear -

31 May Copy Date for June Newsletter
3 July

CAMBRIDGE-OXFORD Owners’ Club NATIONAL RALLY North Norfolk Railway - HOLT Norfolk

5 July QUADROFARINA 2 - Madeira Drive - Brighton


10 July BRISTOL & BATH CLASSIC CAR RUN Bill & Jenny Phillips
22 - 24 July

10-28hp 1931-1939
22 - 24 July

The Attwell-Wilson Motor Museum - CALNE Wilts


7 August BMC-BL SPARES DAY 2011 - Ferry Meadows  







Visit to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Shed - 12 May 2011

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway runs along a part of the former Great Western Railway's mainline from Birmingham to Cheltenham, via Stratford-upon-Avon. The line commands wonderful views of the sleepy hamlets and villages as it runs though the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

The line was primarily built (1900-1906) to improve through services from Birmingham to Bristol and the West Country. It also carried fruit from the highly productive farming areas both in the Cotswolds and the Vale of Evesham.

The line closed to local passenger traffic on 5th March 1960. The line continued in use for goods services until an incident at Winchcombe on 25th August 1976 effectively closed the line.

Following early work by a Society primarily aimed at trying to keep the line open, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway was formed in 1981 with the aim of one day restoring this line from Stratford Race Course to Cheltenham Racecourse back to its former glory. Although originally double tracked throughout, by the time the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) purchased the track bed most of the buildings and all the track had gone. The only survivors at Toddington were the main station building, the acetylene hut, the signal box shell and the goods shed.

Following purchase of the track bed from Broadway to Cheltenham Race Course, the GWR established an operating base at Toddington and started re-construction. By 1984 work had advanced sufficiently to allow the first public train to operate over a Ό mile of track, and on Sunday 22nd April, Nicholas Ridley MP, the Secretary of State for Transport cut the ribbon to mark the Official opening. Since then the GWR have restored 10 miles of track from Toddington to Cheltenham Race Course as well as recreating the station at Winchcombe. The latest extension to Cheltenham Race Course station was opened by HRH The Princess Royal on 7 April 2003.

The track is now heading towards Broadway with services planned to Laverton in 2011.






35006 P&O under refurbishment (April 2006)

In April 2010, a little over 100 years after the line opened, the embankment just to the south of Gotherington Station, failed and has required almost £1,000,000 to be spent on it before trains can run again. It is to be reopened in June. In the mean time, in January this year, there has been another slip, this time just to the north of Winchcombe station. It is anticipated that this slip will cost slightly less than the one at Gotherington to repair.

Tony Osborne arranged for an evening visit to the railway to see behind the scenes at Toddington and Winchcombe. We hope to be able to see in the Toddington Shed and signal box. Whilst several of the steam engines will have been moved from Toddington to Winchcombe, by road, Merchant Navy Class 35006 Pacific and Orient Steam Navigation Company (P&O) which is nearing the end of its restoration having been rescued from the cutters torch in 1983, will be there. If there are enough of us attending we will also visit Winchcombe where we hope to see the carriage works and some of the steam engines that will be stabled there, including the GWR 2-8-0 number 2807, which only returned to steam in 2010 following its rebuild having been rescued from Woodhams scrap yard at Barry in 1981. This locomotive is the oldest privately owned working Great Western Railway locomotive in the world.

To find out more about the railway and its problems visit





We plan to arrive for 7:00pm at Toddington and the cost will be £10 per head – all going to a good cause, the refurbishment of the embankment on Chicken Curve immediately to the North of Winchcombe Station. Please complete the form above and send it to arrive with Tony no later than 5th  May, a week before the visit. You will be sent the final instructions for the evening on receipt of your cheque.

At some stage during the visit we are told that we will be able to enjoy a cup of tea.

Tony is hoping to take his Austin 12 and hopes that others might drive down to this working heritage museum in something interesting, preferably Austin!

We hope to help raise some funds to help the railway to repair their second landslip in 12 months.

I would like to invite all Austineers to this event hoping that we can raise some much needed funds for the railway to repair an embankment that is currently splitting the railway in two.

Tony Osborne

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Shed Visit
Thursday 12 May 2011

Please reserve _____ places at £10:00 each for the above event. I enclose my cheque, made payable to the
AUSTIN EX-APPRENTICES ASSOCIATION' for £………. (Final details and a map will be
posted to you on receipt).
Name : ……………………………………………………… Apprentice dates, from ………. to
Address: ……………………………………………………… Guests                                              names






Post code:.…………………………………………………..



Please return to Tony Osborne, 8, MaxstokeClose, Redditch, Worcestershire B98 0EJ.
, e-mail: .
Please remember to enclose a stamped and self-addressed envelope for the instructions to be
posted to you.





Longbridge Redevelopment Update

The plans for the Town Centre have been presented to Birmingham Council. It is expected that this should get approval around about June. There have been a few changes to the plans that were shown to the public in November.

One of the changes is that the proposed Austin Centre will not be built on this first phase. I for one believe that more thought needs to go into deciding what we would all like an Austin Centre to provide. So any ideas would be most welcome, but please be realistic with your plans as it will need funding to operate. Please email me with your suggestion at .

A start on the Youth Centre is likely to take place in June. This building will be situated on North Car park, close to the Austin Social Club.

On the Lickey Road where the GOB used to stand, work in clearing the site is now complete. This development is for 115 properties, with the show house opening in June/July.

The road works are progressing on the Bristol Road and Longbridge Lane which have to be ready for the opening of the Bournville College in August. Part of this work is to connect a new culvert which will carry the river Rea when it is diverted from its current route.

John Baker





MG Birmingham Update

Longbridge is no more, it’s now called MG Birmingham along with ‘Q’ gate, which is just called Main Entrance.

New corporate colours along with the MG logo were announced to the media on the 15th February.

Also announced was the unveiling of the MG6 Saloon, and a tour of the
assembly track. Production will start soon to build the MG6 fastback, which will be available in seven body colours and three versions of trim level. At the moment it will be available only with a 1.8 turbo petrol engine, but a diesel engine will be an option in mid 2012. The price range is from £16,000 to £20,000, the saloon will be priced between £17,000 to £20,000 and be available around July/August .

The warranty is for three years or 60,000 miles, although they have said that this can be extended to five years and probable 100,000 miles at additional cost. It has to be said that the normal warranty given by most manufactures is three years. One free addition is that you get roadside assistance for three years, regardless of vehicle mileage. For those drivers doing very high mileage they can enjoy unlimited mileage during the first twelve months of ownership.

The Cecil Kimber College technical training centre is located in part of the
Roundhouse to train service personal. Also in the building is the MG showroom along with a 100 seat auditorium. For service needs, spares will be based in the building that used to receive complete seats from suppliers.

The bodies arrive from China fully painted and trimmed in containers via
Felixstowe, along with the engines/transmission. The old 75 line has been
modified to produce the new MG6 which entails fitting the engine / transmission to the body along with the front suspension and subframe, exhaust system and electrics. It is planned to assemble 2,000 vehicles in the first full year, which could rise to 5,000 later on. The plant could easily produce 100,000 vehicles without much additional staff. One major factor that would affect output, is if the go ahead is given to assemble the MG3 small car.

For those who know the site, No 3 paint has been mothballed, and the new CAB 2 rebuilt for the Mini could also be used later on. Six new engine test cells have been built in the old CV building for development work. SAIC have signed an agreement with GM to develop a new range of small petrol engines in the range of 1.0 to 1.5litre. some of the development for this will take place in this new facility.





Tata Invests in Engineers at Warwick

Recently in the news was TATA Motors plans to hire 100 extra engineers to work at the company’s European Technical Centre (TMETC) at Warwick University - an increase of more than 40% over present numbers according to a report in the Daily Telegraph Business News.

The company owns Jaguar land Rover and is keen to develop low-carbon vehicle technologies and vehicles for the European market.

Copy of Daily Telegraph report - 29-03-2011

Tata motors worked in collaboration with MG-Rover Group (MGRG) on the City Rover - a Rover branded version of the Tata Indicar - hurriedly introduced in the autumn of 2003 as a stopgap to be the Rover small car. Insufficient time and money was available to develop the car to make it suitable for the UK and European market and this - combined with its high “Rover” price tag in relation to rivals in the market - meant that few were sold.

Tata Motors now employ a number of former MGRG engineers at TMETC.





Rally Maxi at the Heritage Centre Gaydon - photo my Danny McL on flikr
Copied by the Editor to fill up space - nothing to do with the bit below - honest.


Advertisement Feature
There’s Something About a .

Only the second book ever written about the Austin ..The book will be on sale after its launch on 17 April 2011. Orders can now be taken – Price £10.95, plus postage and packing if posted.

Paul Jefford, Whitegates Farm, Hatton, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, LN8 5LS Email Tel/fax .

I plan to attend the Pride of Longbridge Rally with my Austin Maxi during the afternoon of Saturday 16 April, so could possibly save you postage and packing by handing any books ordered over that rally. Let me know you’d like one bought there.

Or - you are invited to help me launch this book by joining me for coffee and cake at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire at 14.00 on Sunday 17 April 2011 - following the Austin Maxi Owners Club AGM.

Come to the main Museum entrance and check in at Reception.

Paul Jefford.






John Barnett C.Eng.M.I.Mech.E
17th Sept. 1926 – 10th Feb. 2011

After a period of illness John passed away peacefully on Thursday 10th February 2011 at Saint Richard’s Hospice, Worcester. He will be sadly missed by his wife Sheila, sons Harry and Michael and daughter Brenda. John was born 84 years ago in Balham, London.

He and his family moved back to their home area of Penn Fields,
Wolverhampton when he was 3 years old. John attended Wolverhampton Grammar School, leaving when he was 16 to begin an apprenticeship at Guy Motors supposedly to do flight engineering, but instead worked on engines, buses and armoured cars, thus developing an interest in motor vehicles. His next job was with Wolverhampton Corporation ensuring the quality of buses and trolley buses.

In 1951 he joined the Austin Motor Company as an assistant engineer, around the time that Austin and Morris merged to form BMC, working his way up to take charge of engine development. In 1976 John was appointed Chief Engineer Engines for Rover-Triumph.

He retired in his early 60s and took up sailing, graduating from cabin boy to skipper, sailing from numerous ports around the coast of the British Isles, with trips to the Baltic, Caribbean, Mediterranean and South Pacific. John was an active member of his local churches and scout movement. He was proud to be an engineer. It gave him great satisfaction to have been involved in commemorating the foundation of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers at Bromsgrove Station.

A service of thanksgiving for the life of John, took place on Friday 18th February  2011 at St. Michaels’s and All Angels Church, Cofton Hackett. which was attended by over 200 friends and colleagues.

Austin Ex-Apprentices Association





A Thirties Bank Holiday Weekend
London to Edinburgh - and back - in a racing Austin 7

This is a true tale of an epic journey by two young bankers 78 years ago as recalled by one of them 45 years afterwards whilst on a longer and more leisurely journey. It is possible that the story is slightly embellished - but the pictures were taken at the time and illustrate points made in the text.

Written between Fiji and New Caledonia - 19 February 1978

Dear Peter
Your No 3 to Honolulu & your No 4 to Suva both reached us safely at Suva. The school is Wentworth Milton Mount, College Road, Boscombe

Scotland in a day in a pre-war Austin should be quite practicable. Forsdyke and I left Threadneedle Street at noon on a Saturday in mid September 1933 picking up his 1926 Brooklands Austin in Austen Friars. We went via Dalston, Royston, Godmanchester, Alconbury & then right up the Great North Road. Apart from stopping every 60 miles for another gallon of petrol, we stopped only at Doncaster for tea, at Durham for a supper of fish & chips and at a crossroads near Pencaitland outside Leith when 400 showed on the speedo. It was then 4 in the morning.

At Pencaitland - before beginning the second day’s journey





We had averaged 24 with a maximum of about 40. The vehicle could do 60 but it had no brakes or road holding, and did not steer. I think it had negative castor action. 40 was as fast as was prudent. It also had no doors & no seats, just air cushions on the floor, and the passenger's shoulder came behind the driver's shoulder. There was no bulkhead between engine & driving compartment, no hood & no starter. Other reasons for keeping to 40 was that the front mudguard stays often broke, also the spokes, & the fabric universals came undone. The vehicle was nearing the end of its second resurrection but was perfectly satisfactory.

Forsdyke in the driving seat.

Forsdyke drove almost the whole way. We slept in the car at 4 until about 7 (at least I slept, Forsdyke was not so sure). Breakfasted & shaved at Leith, & crossed to the Forth Bridge, Glasgow, Ayr, Dumfries where we spent Sunday night. On Monday we went via Gretna Green & through the Lake District to Blackpool, touching 60 into the town when Forsdyke was goaded by some other vehicle. On Tuesday we on right down the A6, keeping to A6, to Acton where Forsdyke set me down & continued to Cranleigh in Surrey. Apart from general overhauls in the streets of Edinburgh & 2 or 3 other places, there was no trouble at all.





Edinburgh - 1933

Edinburgh Castle - without crowds.





I am sorry you are not getting our cards. We are sending plenty. Perhaps this air letter will get through better. Had a busy day at Suva. Landed 9.45. Glass bottomed boat across the coral reef to a little island an hour away, dancing display & ceremonial drink (tasted like soapy water). Back for lunch on ship. 20 mile coach drive out to airport in afternoon for flight in De Havilland Heron, 14 seater. Then back after tea to walk around town to Botanical Gardens & on ship at 6.30 to sail at 7. Nice place, lots of good class shanty town.

The  First Fourth Bridge.

Hope the house moving is good fun. Pleased that the work on the 504 is proving rewarding. The letter was from Lola, a cousin of mine.

For Edinburgh, I would advise starting very early and going by A1 to Scotch Corner, then A68 (I think) direct to Edinburgh not via Berwick. We were sorry to have to start so late in the day & we were afraid to leave A1 at Scotch Corner for fear of getting lost in the dark. We only had 2 days holiday & so had to keep strictly to schedule.





Profile of a Brooklands Sports Austin Seven beside a Loch.

The original is captioned “Where’s the bride”





Christmas Quiz - Answers

1. Rover 200 and 400 Owners Club

2. Vintage Austin Twelve Register

3. Austin Seven

4. 1946

5. Metro

5. 1936

6. Longbridge

7. Austin Rover Group

8. Aintree. It was not an Austin model

9. Stirling Moss

10. They are the nicknames to buildings at Longbridge.





    About Us - The Federation of Austin Clubs, Registers and Associations

Aims and Objectives
The primary objective of the Austin Federation is to bring together clubs, organisations and associations, throughout the world, which have an interest in preserving and maintaining the Heritage, Name and Products of the Austin Motor Company and of the Longbridge Plant. The Federation is also open to individual members who share these interests.

Products include all brands associated with Longbridge - Austin, BMC, BL, MG-Rover - cars and commercial vehicles.

The aims are to:-

  Publicise and promote Austin and its heritage

  Facilitate the sharing of historical and social information

  Collate information allowing member organisations to manage their events diary

  Promote recognition of major milestones and anniversaries in the history of Austin and the Longbridge Works.

Opinions expressed in the Newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the management Committee of the Austin Federation.

The quarterly electronic newsletter is distributed to all member clubs, organisations and associations, to individual members, and to others who have a continuing interest in Austin or Longbridge.

Please send information about your Club and its activities for publication in the Federation Newsletter.

Copy date for June edition - 31 May 2011.
Peter Winney - Editor

Please send your material to -