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Homepage. This page: Behind-the-scenes photographs of the car servicing facility being prepared.

BMC Service.

Two or three years ago a group of photographs, all taken at a BMC (British Motor Corporation) service facility, were found and swiftly bought. Several feature a number of different makes of car, all by the 1950s part of the BMC empire, being serviced under one roof at a works' facility. Although the location isn't specifically referred to, I'm sure these are all at Cowley.
The two photographs shown below don't show much work in progress on cars though, rather they capture scenes within the facility, prior to the equipment being installed. It could be that this was formerly a production area, part of the Nuffield Organisation, that was later given over to the service of Austin, Morris and related cars, now that BMC had become fully established. Hopefully an ex-employee of BMC will land on this page one day and perhaps shed more light on the scenes shown.

Cars requiring work in the un-finished building.

The first image (reference Nuffield Organization 75025) looks along the building's interior, facing towards the main wall clock hanging to the right of centre in this view. A number of cars are parked, all needing work done to them. The time is 11.50am. Note the curved roof of the building, and the plethora of individual lamps hanging down from its structure. Lockers, for the employees working in this facility, can be seen over to the left, close to a parked Austin Sheerline. A large "NO SMOKING" signs hangs below the upper level area that appears to circle the building internally. A noticeboard in the distance, to the left, has various clipboards hanging upon it, perhaps detailing how the floorspace is to be used for the efficient servicing of BMC-built cars. A row of hydraulic trolley jacks can just be seen, behind the A35.
(Please click the thumbnails to view the full-size image.)
Inside the factory building
In all, seven cars are visible. Starting from the left, there is an Austin Sheerline, registration LOF 376, a Birmingham series that entered life in March 1951. A sheet of paper - most likely a job sheet - rests under one of its windscreen wipers. Next, is an Austin-Healey. The front numberplate is missing, but the second photograph confirms this car's identification as PWD 396, a Warwickshire-area number first used in September 1954. There is body damage beneath the grille aperture, while the grille itself, the sidelights and both headlamps are missing. Note the angle of the front wheels, either a result of the shunt or perhaps due to components being removed. The picture below better shows six of the cars, third of which is a four-door Austin A35 saloon, registration TXA 510 (London area, December 1956-on). This car looks in great condition, and is fitted with a roof rack.
A closer look at the cars at the Cowley service area
Moving along slightly there rests an Austin 16, SMC 250 or SMG 250. There doesn't appear to be any visual damage to this car either, so perhaps like the A35 was just in for a routine service. Next along the line, set further back slightly, is an Austin A55 Cambridge Mk1, registration TYY 605 (London, June 1957-on). The reason for its visit will be seen in the second photograph, further down.
Perched upon a trolley jack is an earlier Austin, in the upright form of an A40 Devon, its bonnet raised to the heavens. Not shown in close-up is another Mk1 Cambridge, over to the right.
More cars, an Austin 16, a Cambridge, and an A40 Devon

Rear view of the same cars.

The second of these photographs is taken from the far right corner seen in the shot above, looking back down the building. The reason for the A55's visit is now obvious, a bent rear bumper. The nearside rear wheel arch also appears to have sprung slightly, which may be causing the rear door to not close properly. The Austin 16 can be seen once again, its bootlid lowered, as can the dinky A35, the Sheerline, and the work-in-progress Austin-Healey. From this angle more of the latter's condition can be assessed. The radiator is sat on a blanket that has been placed on the rear luggage rack. The steering column and wheel are also absent - note the car is UK-registered but LHD - perhaps a demonstrator to overseas markets? No Morris cars are in evidence.
Rear view of the damaged Austin and Austin Healey cars
Happily this photo also captures two more vehicles. SOA 816 (B'ham, July 1955-on) in the distance is an Austin lorry, glistening in the Austin Motor Company's livery (with a BMC rosette on its door). A second Healey is parked close to it. The five cars most clearly visible in the photograph are shown in close-up below. The reference for this image is Nuffield Organization 75028, which may help someone date this scene? I'm also hoping that the distinctive shape of the upper windows visible may positively confirm this building's location.
Rear look at the same Austin cars

Outside the building.

Again I'm sure that this is at Cowley. The curved roofing could point to a link with the two photographs shown previously. Illuminated signs for Austin, Austin-Healey, Riley, Wolseley, MG, Morris and Morris-Commercial are in evidence. The same frontage also appears in a photo I have (link below) of an Austin Westminster. Peeking out of the extensive showroom I can see the front end of an A35, and an Austin Gipsy, registration PJN 328.
Front view of the BMC factory building

In the foyer/reception area.

Not the most interesting of photographs really, but worth including if only to portray a late-1950s reception area/foyer. Despite mountings evident on the walls, not one picture is displayed.
Foyer area

Car photographs from the same group, published elsewhere.

A number of photographs that also turned up in this batch have been shown elsewhere on the site, on make- or model-specific photo pages. The following links will take you to the pages that the car photos appear on.

* Austin A40 Mk1.

I keep looking for photographs of Mk1 A40s, to go on this page. The second photo to feature on there presents a Mk1 undergoing a water test, most likely at the same establishment.

* Austin Cambridge.

The second period photograph to feature on the Austin A55 Cambridge Mk2 page could well also have been taken in the same building, it certainly matches the location of the BMC/Morris Oxford photograph above.

* Austin Westminster.

This photograph of an Austin Westminster parked outside a BMC building, came from the same source and may be of the same building, unless anyone can confirm otherwise?

* MG Midget.

On a two-post hydraulic lift at Cowley is a Mk2 MG Midget, surrounded by a variety of related family cars, such as an 1800 and a Mini van.

* Morris Minor Traveller.

Photographs 3 & 4 on this page show a Minor being worked upon at a BMC facility, perhaps in a building or area off to the side of the main workshop shown above.

* Morris Oxford and other cars.

Image number 4 on the Morris Oxford Series V/VI page appears to show the same service facility in full swing, with an amazing array of BMC-built cars in evidence. Happy days for the British motor industry.
I'd dearly like to add in more information about the building featured here. Memories of employees who worked on these cars in this, or other buildings that formed part of BMC, would be great to hear of and include here.
Return to Page 17 in the vintage gallery.

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