Answered By: Archives & Library Staff @The Henry Ford
Last Updated: Nov 01, 2019 Views: 4

The land for the Dagenham plant was purchased in 1924 after the company sent Edward Grace out to scout a suitable location on the River Thames. In May of 1929, Edsel Ford sank a ceremonial spade at the dedication ceremony and construction began soon after. The plant was to include an assembly line, power station, foundry, coke ovens, gas plant, and private wharf.

The first vehicle, a Model AA truck, rolled off the assembly line in October of 1931 and production began at full capacity in the summer of 1932. The land owned by Ford also housed the Briggs Body Works factory which provided bodies, and the Kelsey-Hayes Wheel Company which provided wheels. The Dagenham plant nearly doubled in 1936 with the addition of a rolling mill and spring making sections. Initially building Detroit engineered vehicles, Ford Ltd. pushed for English engineered cars to suit the needs of the British public. Over the years, the factory produced a range of vehicles including the Model AF, Popular, Prefect, Anglia, Consul, Zodiac, and Cortina as well as commercial vehicles, trucks, and Fordson tractors.

During World War II, Dagenham produced for war building ambulances, trucks, Bren Carriers, and V-8 engines among other things. They also built food vans to help feed the people of war-torn England, as well as factory and dock workers. In 1941, Edsel and Henry Ford donated back 50% of the dividend owed them by Ford Ltd. so Dagenham could produce food vans.  With this donation and the donations of other Ford entities in the Empire, Dagenham built and outfitted 450 vans that year, serving over 6,000,000 meals to those in need due to bombings and food shortages. World War II also saw the camouflaging of the entire plant to keep it better hidden from bombers and the hiring of the first women factory workers at Dagenham.

After WWII, Dagenham faced post-war taxes, export ratios, production restrictions, and material shortages as well as poor sales due to gasoline shortages. They were able to prosper through the introduction of new models as well offering diesel models, and were able to buy out the Kelsey-Hayes and Briggs facilities to expand further. In 1954 they added a new Paint, Trim, and Assembly building and modernized other buildings on site. During the 1960s, Dagenham moved to decentralize some of its operations including Engineering, Styling, Commercial vehicles, Tractor production, Transmissions, and prototype work.

In the early 2000s falling sales led to job cuts, and in 2002 Dagenham ceased vehicle production. 2012 saw the closing of the Stamping Plant, but engine production continues at the plant.   

[images: 00.1334.260 Aerial View of Ford Motor Company. Factory, Dagenham, Essex, England, 1946; P.O.503 Edsel Ford at Ground Breaking for New Ford Plant in Dagenham, 1929; Acc. 1790_17 Dagenham Food Van]

 

Bibliography

Archival

   Acc. 1790 Ford Motor Company, Ltd. collection
      box 9 Dagenham Regional History, 1973
      box 11 Tour Groups at Dagenham, circa 1950-1965
                  Dagenham Plant
                     Application for Excise License, 1936-1963 (2 folders)
                     Site Plans, 1923-1963 (2 folders)
                     Dr. A. Kucher Speech, 1960
                     Emergency Food Vans Program Planning, 1941-1942
      box 16 Dagenham Plant
                     Dagenham Regional History, 1973
                     Groundbreaking, October 1929 (2 folders)
      box 17 Dagenham Plant
                        Production Milestones, 1929-1981 (2 folders)
                        Plant and Regional History, 1935-1979 (3 folders)
      box 18 General Plant Promotions, circa 1930-1980
      box 19 The Story of Ford of Dagenham, circa 1961
                  Production Milestone Promotions
                      250,000th British-built Model-T Cross Country Promotional Campaign, 1925
                      Various, 1931-1980
      box 20 Pencil Sketch, Dagenham Plant, 1942
      box 31 Photographs; England; Aerial Photographs, circa 1961 (2 albums)
      box 32 Photographs; Dagenham; New Foundry Construction, 1954-1957 (5 albums)
      box 33-41 Photographs; Dagenham; Plant Construction, 1929-1938 (47 albums)
      box 47 Photographs; England; Aerial Photos, Various Plants, circa 1938-1956
                  Photographs; Dagenham
                     Blast Furnace, 1955-1961
                     Coke Ovens, 1950-1952
                     Drainage Ditch Reconstruction, 1961
                     Export Storage Compound, 1957-1961 (4 folders)
                     F Building, 1950-1953 (3 folders)
                     Heat Treatment Building, 1961
                     Miscellaneous Construction Projects, 1940-1962 (3 folders)
      box 48 Photographs; Dagenham
                     New Forge, 1958-1959 (8 folders)
                     New Foundry, 1954-1958 (21 folders)
      box 49 Photographs; Dagenham
                     New Light Structure, 1960 (2 folders)
                     Paint, Trim, and Assembly Building Construction, 1967
                     Plant Renovation, 1950-1952
      box 54 Scrapbooks; Bombing Damage to Dagenham Plant, circa 1942-1943
      box 56 Dagenham Regional History, 1973
      box 61 England; Aerial Photographs, 1951

 

   Acc. 951 Ford Motor Company Non-Serial Publications Collection
      box 7 Dagenham Engine Plant: Aiming for Excellence, 1989
                Dagenham: Home of Ford of Britain
                Dagenham Visit, c.1960
      box 10 Facts about Ford Works (Dagenham), 1949
      box 15 The Ford Industrial Estate at Dagenham
      box 17 Ford Motor Company, Limited: Dagenham, England 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953
                  Ford of Dagenham
      box 30 Main Dealer Agreement, FMC, Ltd., Dagenham, 1960
      box 32 The New Ford Works at Dagenham, c.1929
      box 50 A Tour through Ford Works Dagenham, Essex
      box 53 Welcome: Ford Motor Company, Ltd. Dagenham, c.1956
                   Welcome to Dagenham Engine Plant, April, 1966
                   Welcome to the Hub of a World on Wheels

 

   Acc. 285 Henry Ford Office papers
      box 1314 Dagenham, England, 1931
      box 1592 Dagenham, England, 1933-1934
      box 1766 England (Dagenham - London), 1935
      box 1906 England - Dagenham, London, 1936
      box 2025 England, Dagenham, London, 1937
      box 2141 Dagenham, London, 1938
      box 2286 England - Dagenham and London, 1939-1940
      box 2958 Dagenham re: Statue of Henry Ford, 1947-1949

 

   Acc.1 Fair Lane papers
      box 173 Souvenir booklet "Dagenham Plant, England," distributed at Ford International
                       Conference, Detroit, 1948
      box 188 Unveiling of statue of Henry Ford at Dagenham, England, Commemorative
                        Booklet, October 14, 1948

 

   Acc. 6 Edsel B Ford Office papers
      box 71 KA-KR (includes King George Hospital correspondence with Sir Percival Perry,
                    references to Dagenham Hospital)
      box 213 Dagenham, 1932
      box 218 Dagenham, 1933
      box 223 Dagenham, 1934
      box 231 Dagenham, 1936
      box 234 Dagenham, 1937
      box 248 Dagenham, 1940
      box 285 Dagenham, 1932
      box 289 Dagenham (includes correspondence and some financial statements, schedule A,
                      balance sheets), 1933
      box 293 Dagenham, 1934
      box 296 Dagenham, 1935
      box 298 Dagenham, 1936
      box 301 Dagenham, 1937
      box 302 Dagenham, 1938
      box 304 Dagenham, 1939
      box 306 Dagenham, 1940
      box 307 Dagenham, 1941
      box 308 Dagenham, 1942
                    D (includes Dagenham), 1943

 

   Acc. 38 Charles Sorensen papers
      box 1 England; Dagenham, 1929
      box 2 England; Dagenham, 1930
      box 5 England; Dagenham, 1931
      box 8 England; Dagenham, 1932
      box 13 England; Dagenham, 1933
      box 19 Annual General Manager's Meeting Minutes, volume 2; Dagenham, 1934
      box 25 Annual General Meetings, volume 2; Dagenham, 1935
      box 26 England; Dagenham (3 folders), 1935
      box 29 Annual General Meetings; Dagenham, 1936
      box 31 England; Dagenham, 1936
      box 35 Annual General Meetings; Dagenham, 1937

 

   Acc. 46 Ford Motor Company executive correspondence records
      box 51 Dagenham, 1938
      box 73 Dagenham, 1939
      box 128 Dagenham, 1940
      box 182 Dagenham, 1941
      box 223 Dagenham, 1942
      box 258 Dagenham, 1943
      box 287 Dagenham, 1944
      box 299 Dagenham, 1945
      box 309 Dagenham, 1946

 

   Acc. 390 A. M. Wibel Office papers subseries
      box 6 Dagenham Blast Furnace Plant, undated
      box 84 1[a]. Dagenham, 1929-1931 (re: plant startup)

 

   Acc. 572 Nevins and Hill research, original documents and notes series
      box 18 No.11.15 (includes: New Ford Plant at Dagenham, Essex, Dagenham Production
                     and Sales Reports, 1932)

 

   Acc. 507 Manufacturing and Assembly Department records series
      box 14 155-162 (includes Dagenham), 1946
      box 30 2-15 (includes air-conditioning, allotments for associates, analysis of mailing,
                      automobile exports, bibliographies, blueprints: Dagenham), 1947
      box 38 84-112A (job analysis, job evaluation, KD export schedule, KD trim unit list,
                      Kirksite dies, layout: Dagenham), 1947
      box 41 137-140 (includes miscellaneous: Dagenham), 1947
      box 43 150-182 (includes multi-post stamp affixer, negative rake turning, New Model
                      Cowl front ends, 1947-1948: Dagenham), 1947
      box 50 257-269 (includes shot peening, sketches, skids: 1948 miscellaneous, specifications:
                      Dagenham), 1947
      box 53 286-290 (includes welding equipment: Dagenham), 1947
      box 60 Dagenham: General, 1946-1948 (3 folders)
      box 61 Dagenham
                     Executive, 1936-1941 (2 folders)
                     Office of Lord Perry and Sir Stanford Cooper General Letters, 1946
                     Overseas Circular Letters, 1946
                     Ball and Roller Bearings
                     General, 1947
                     Timken Roller Bearings
                     Batteries
                     Engineering Details
                     Paint
                     Pig Iron production Reports, 1947
                     Local Purchasing in South America for Dagenham
                     Tractor, 1946
                      Visitors, 1947
      box 85 Time Study Sheets: Dagenham, 1945-1949
      box 95 R. I. Roberge; Reports on Cologne, Asnieres and Dagenham, 1937-1938
      box 99 Branch Correspondence; Dagenham, 1935, 1937-1938, Appointment of Main
                        Dealers, Visit of

 

   Acc. 1942 International Division Purchasing Office Records
      box 2 International Division Overview, 1958 (4 folders) (photographs, organization
                   charts, and histories, includes Dagenham)

 

   Acc. 713 Correspondence subseries, International Division
      box 5 Dagenham Telephone Directory, April 1938
                Correspondence; Dagenham, 1945-1947
      box 6 Correspondence; Dagenham, 1948-1950
                 Minutes of Manager's Conference, London, April 9-12, 1948
                 Survey of British Motor Vehicle Industry, 1948
      box 12 "Market research survey-sales estimates of Dagenham products."

 

   Acc. 1940 Reconsolidation of Foreign Operations records
      box 4-5 Guernsey Project (includes Dagenham), 1946-1950

 

   Acc. 157 C. L. Martindale/Otto H. Husen files subsubseries
      box 6 Correspondence; Ford Motor Company Ltd., Dagenham, England, 1936
                Dagenham, Schedule A, 1936
      box 15 Correspondence; Dagenham, Schedule "A", 1937
      box 22 Correspondence; Dagenham, Costs, Schedule A, 1938
      box 172 Cost Statements; Dagenham, Ford Motor Co., Dagenham, England, 1935
      box 201 Foreign Plant Costs and Statistics; Dagenham 1928-1949
      box 203 Matford-Cost Comparisons, Rouge, Dagenham, Cologne, 1936-1937

      box 228 Schedule of Costs, Dagenham, 1939

                     Schedule "A" Cost and Sale Price Statistics, Dagenham, 1939
      box 264 Dagenham Cost Accounting Data 1935-36
      box 269 Coke Oven and Blast Furnace Cost Forms; Rouge and Dagenham cost comparison
                    Dagenham
                       Comparison associated companies assembly hour costs - 1936
                       Comparison associated companies facilities statistics - 1937
                       Photographs of damage to machines received from us

 

   Acc. 220 Elmer A. Eberle records subseries. Finance Staff.
      box 95 Controllers Office; Dagenham costs, 1936-37
      box 96 Controllers Office; Dagenham data

 

   Acc. 685 J. W. Whitmore papers. Traffic Division.
      box 2 Dagenham, England, visit, 1934, 1936

 

   Acc. 378 Public Relations Research Library subject files subseries
      box 46 Ford I, Henry, Memorials Dagenham England Statue, 1948-1949

 

   Acc. 630 Foreign Branch Publicity subseries
      box 1 England, Dagenham, Plant Layout, 1945

 

   Acc. 708 Bank Account Statements subsubseries
      box 17-18 Dagenham, England (Ford Motor Co. Ltd) 1933-1944

 

   Acc. 1932 Ford of England Commemorative Scrapbooks
      includes 1 bound scrapbook: Mr. Henry Ford II Commemorates 50 years of Production
           at Dagenham, Essex, October 1981

 

   Small Accessions
      Acc. 225 Ford Motor Company Ltd. Branch Operations records, 1948-1953 (pamphlets
                     and correspondence)

 

   Acc. 696 Renovated Assembly Plants photographs series
      box 13 Dagenham, London, England
      box 14 London, England - Dagenham Plant
      box 15 Visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to Ford Motor Company, Dagenham, England,
                     December 6, 1951 (photograph album)

 

   Acc. 1660 Photographic Vertical File
      box 19 Assembly Line Methods; Automobiles; England-Dagenham
      box 21 Assembly Line Methods; Tractors; England-Dagenham
      box 79 Ford, Edsel; Dedications; Ford Motor Company-England-Dagenham
      box 124 Ford Motor Company; Buildings; England-Dagenham (Aerial views and
                       panoramas, Construction, Exteriors, Interiors)

 

   Acc. 833 General Photographs
      box 2 Europe-England-Dagenham through France-Bordeaux (3a)

 

   Acc. 00.1334.311.0 Dagenham Plant England Photographs Album

 

   Acc. 11 Henry Ford II European Trip collection
      box 3 Photographs; Great Britain (scrapbook including portrait photo of Henry Ford II)

 

Ford News

   See: Ford Assembly Plant (Dagenham. ENG)
           Ford, Edsel Bryant: Ford Assembly Plant (Dagenham. Eng.)
           Fordson Plant (Dagenham, ENG)

 

Audio-Visual

   64.167.764.4 - Motion Picture - "Ford Gala for Workers at Dagenham Plant"

 

Oral Histories

   65_ 71 Theodore F. Gehle

   Acc. 1001 Norman St John-Stevas interviews
      box 1 Interviews of Ford Ltd. executives, 1952-1953

 

Vertical File

   Ford Motor Company-Plants-Europe-England & Ireland

 

Books, Periodicals, and Secondary

   Ford at Dagenham: the rise and fall of Detroit in Europe. David Burgess Wise
      REF 338.476292 F699 B955 2001 

   The Ford standing salt : a jubilee gift to Ford Motor Company U.S.A. from Ford Motor
      Company Limited, Dagenham, England, 1903-1955
.
Ford Motor Company Limited
      (Dagenham, England). Reginald H Hill; C.J. Vander Limited (Firm) [1953?]
      739.23 F699 1953 

   Paint, trim and assembly: the story of Ford's new Paint, Trim and Assembly Building. Ford Motor Company Ltd.
      338.7 F699 1959

   Ford model Y: Henry's car for Europe. S. Roberts (Sam)
       629.222 F699 R646 2001

   American business abroad: Ford on six continents. Mira Wilkins Frank Ernest Hill
      338.476292 F699 W685 2011 

   Annual report. 1929-1949. Ford Motor Company Ltd.

   Annual report and accounts. 1950-1984. Ford Motor Company Ltd.

   Cars (England). Ford Motor Company Ltd.

   Export News from Dagenham. Ford Motor Company Ltd.

   Farm (Dagenham, England). Ford Motor Company Ltd.

   Ford Bulletin. Ford Motor Company Ltd.

   Ford Cars. Ford Motor Company Ltd

   Ford Family (England). Ford Motor Company Ltd.

   Ford Times (England). Ford Motor Company Ltd.

   Ford Works News. Ford Motor Company Ltd.

   Powertalk. Ford Motor Company Ltd.

   Targets. Ford Motor Company Ltd.

 

 

Related Topics

    Contact Us

    To set up an appointment to visit the research center call (313) 982-6020 or write to us at research.center@thehenryford.org.

    If you wish to do research from offsite, please contact us in writing. Fees apply to many research requests, and we will clarify this when we receive your request. For more information on cost please see our research services. Requests for information can be emailed, faxed or mailed:

    Benson Ford Research Center
    The Henry Ford
    20900 Oakwood Blvd.
    Dearborn, MI
    48121-1970
    USA

    fax: (313) 982-6244