Answered By: Archives & Library Staff @The Henry Ford
Last Updated: Jun 19, 2019 Views: 1154

Henry Ford & Son, Ltd. was established in Cork on April 17, 1917. Ford Motor Company was looking for a location in Europe to build Ford tractors as World War I had created a manpower and food shortage and tractors were needed to relieve labor needs and expedite food production. Henry Ford, having visited his ancestral home in Cork in 1914, also wanted to start Ireland on the road to industry. Construction started on the 330,000 square foot plant in early summer 1917, but it wasn’t completed by the time Armistice was signed, in fact the first tractor did not roll off the line until July 3, 1919. Tractor production was soon in full gear, but post-war agricultural depression hit tractor sales hard and in 1921 the factory had to add in production of Model T components, for the Manchester assembly plant, to stay afloat. Not only was there an agricultural depression but sales were severely limited in Ireland due to the political turmoil surrounding the 1916 Easter Rising, Irish War of Independence 1919-1921, and Irish Civil War 1922-1923. Tractor production ceased altogether in 1922 and was replaced by manufacturing of Model T and TT parts and eventually vehicle assembly with the Model T and Model AF. In 1929, tractor production was resumed again, as the Dearborn tractor plant stopped producing tractors, making Cork the sole manufacturer of Ford tractors for several years. However, with the completion of the massive Dagenham Ford plant in England, tractor production again ceased and moved out of Cork permanently in 1932.

The Cork plant resumed vehicle assembly with the Model Y and a period of relative stability for the plant ensued, but production was again disrupted during WWII. Assembly ceased in 1941 as Ireland was unable to get supplies due to limited access to shipping and their neutral status. Many of the Cork workers went to Dagenham to work in the aero-engine plant during the war. Production resumed again in the spring of 1946 with the Anglia and Prefect. The works unionized in 1949, with 13 different unions representing workers. The plant again entered a period of stability, however much of this stability was due to protective tariffs on the auto industry. The plant always produced in small numbers, mainly for domestic sales, and never became as cost-efficient as some of the other European plants. In 1967, the plant expanded, re-equipped, and modernized the factory and became a two car assembly, producing the Escort and Cortina, in 1972. Ireland joined the European Economic Community  (EEC) in 1973, by doing so the country agreed to slowly remove the protections on the auto industry, with all protections being removed by the end of 1984. Most manufacturers in Ireland, including Ford, did not have big enough operations to remain completive once these protections were removed, to further their problems, the 1973 Oil Crisis depressed the Irish auto market even more. The plant continued production however, even building a pope mobile for John Paul II’s visit to Ireland in 1979. In 1982 Ford invested £10 million into the Cork factory, again expanding, re-equipping, and modernizing the plant, and moved to single car production with the Sierra.  Unfortunately, even with the updates the plant couldn’t remain viable, and when the government protections were removed, the plant was forced to shut down July 13, 1984.

Cork Factory Managers:
  John Crawford, 1918-1919
  Edward Grace, 1919-1926
  E. L. Clarke, 1926-1932
  John O’Neill 1932-1959
  Tom Brennen 1959-1971
  Paddy Hayes 1971-1984

  1917 FMC established in Ireland, Henry Ford and Son, Ltd. (April 17, 1917)
  1917 Factory construction starts
  1919 First Fordson Tractor built (July 3, 1919)
  1921 Start production on component parts for Model T
  1920 Burning of Cork, factory unharmed
  1921 Irish Free State Treaty (22.2% tariff)
  1922 Cease tractor production
  1923 Assembly of Model Ts begins
  1927 Assembly of Model T ceases
  1928 Manufacture Model AF engines
  1929 Resume tractor production
  1932 Cease tractor production
            Resume vehicle production
  1933 Begin Model Y assembly
  1938 Cork plant produces 25,000th vehicle
  1949 Cork plant produces 75,000th vehicle
           1st union established at plant
  1967 Plant is expanded and re-equipped
  1972 Plant becomes 2 car plant: Escort and Cortina
  1979 Commissioned to build Popemobile for JPII visit
  1982 Plant updated becomes 1 car plant: Sierra
  1984 Factory closes (July 13, 1984)


  Acc. 266 Henry Ford & Son, Ltd. records subseries
      box 1 Cork, Ireland Tractor Plant

  Acc. 328 Ireland. Henry Ford & Son Ltd. records
      box 1 Minutes, agreements, titles, 1917-1918
                Export prices, distributors, and reports, 1917-1918

   Acc. 1790 Ford Motor Company, Ltd. collection
      box 23 Ireland
                    Advertising Samples, circa 1946-1951
                    Correspondence, 1932-1936
                     Henry Ford & Son, Ltd.
                        Cork Tractor Factory Photographs, 1917-1920
                        Lease, 1937 and 1945
                     Production Summaries, 1927
                     Sales Projection Report, 1936

   Acc. 572 Nevins and Hill research, original documents and notes series
      box 17 Foreign Agencies and Plants; Ireland
      box 32 Henry Ford and Son, Inc.

   Acc. 38 Charles Sorensen papers
      box 1 Ireland, 1929
      box 3 Ireland, Cork, 1930
      box 7 Ireland, Cork, 1931
      box 10 Ireland, Cork, 1932
      box 16 Ireland, Cork, 1933
      box 19 Annual General Manager's Meeting Minutes, Volume 2; Cork, 1934
      box 23 Ireland, Cork, 1934
      box 25 Annual General Meetings, Volume 2, Cork, 1935
      box 29 Ireland, Cork, 1935
                  Annual General Meetings, Cork, 1936
      box 34 Ireland, 1936
      box 35 Annual General Meetings, Cork, 1937
      box 38 Ireland, 1937
      box 41 Ireland, 1938
      box 42 Cork Plant, 1920
      box 43 Grace, Edward, 1920
                  Progress Reports for Cork, Ireland, 1920 (2 folders)
      box 45 Clarke, E. L., 1921-1923
                  Cork, Ireland, 1921-1923
                     Employment and Wages Report
                     Cork League, 1922
      box 46 Foundry Reports for Cork, Ireland, 1921-1923
                  Grace, Edward, 1921-1923

                  Grace, Edward, and Sir Percival Perry Correspondence, 1919-1921
                  Tractor Correspondence from Cork, Ireland, 1922-1923
                  Tractors Manufactured in Cork, Ireland, 1921-1923
      box 56 Cork, Ireland, 1928
      box 108 Grace, Edward, 1923-1924
      box 110 Clarke, E. L, 1925-1927
      box 111 Grace, Edward, 1925-1927
      box 146 Horgan, John – Cork, 1921-1926
      box 159 Cork salary roll
      box 171 Cork Harbour, Development Plans

   Acc. 62 Henry Ford Office papers
      box 59 Reports-Foreign (Lord Perry report on Ireland, 1913)
      box 95 Henry Ford and Son, Ltd., of Cork, Ireland  

   Acc. 284 Henry Ford Office papers
      box 9 Henry Ford & Son, Inc., Cork, Ireland, 1920

   Acc. 285 Henry Ford Office papers
      box 11 Henry Ford & Son Ltd., Cork, Ireland, 1921
      box 26 Henry Ford & Son Ltd. Cork, Ireland (includes re: horse racing), 1921
      box 56 Henry Ford & Son. Ltd., Cork, Ireland, 1922
      box 96 Henry Ford & Son Ltd., Cork, Ireland, 1922
      box 130 Henry Ford & Son Ltd., Cork, Ireland, 1923
      box 173 Henry Ford & Son, Ltd., Cork, Ireland, 1923
      box 230 Henry Ford & Son, Ltd., Cork, Ireland, 1924
      box 374 Henry Ford & Son, Cork, Ireland, 1925
      box 487 Henry Ford & Son, Cork, Ireland, 1926
      box 629 Henry Ford & Son, Ltd., Cork, Ireland, 1927
      box 788 Henry Ford & Son, Cork, Ireland, 1928
      box 965 Henry Ford & Son (Cork), 1929
      box 1138 Henry Ford & Son (Cork), 1930
      box 1303 Henry Ford & Sons Corks Ireland, 1931
      box 1436 Ireland, 1932
      box 1448 Henry Ford & Son Ltd, Cork, Ireland, 1932
      box 1593 Cork, Ireland, 1933-1934
      box 2828 Cork, Ireland, 1945-1946

   Acc. 6 Edsel Ford Office papers
      box 182 Telegrams; 1923 (includes; Edward Grace – Henry Ford & Sons, Cork)
      box 206 Cork, 1930
      box 209 Cork, 1931
      box 213 Cork, 1932
      box 223 Cork, 1934
      box 227 Cork, 1935
      box 231 Cork, 1936
      box 234 Cork, 1937
      box 237 Cork, 1938
      box 273 C; Henry Ford & Son, Cork, Ireland, 1928
      box 277 C; E.L. Clarke, Henry Ford & Son, Ltd., Cork, Ireland, 1930
      box 302 C; Henry Ford & Son Ltd., Cork, Ireland, 21st Anniversary, 1938

   Acc. 128 George Brubaker records
      box 2 Cork, Ireland, 1923-1928 (2 folders)

   Acc. 541 B.R. Brown papers
      Small Accession (includes letters authorizing travel to Cork in 1917)

   Acc. 390 A. M. Wibel Office papers
      box 40 Tractor - Cork-Manchester Situation, 1931

   Acc. 58 Sir Percival Perry, Foreign Branch Operations subject file
      box 3 Cork Factory, 1917 (tractor production)

   Acc. 680 Building Construction and Maintenance records
      box 2 Plants; Cork, Ireland
                  Blueprints: Plat map of property of Henry Ford & Son Ltd. 3-11-1924
                  Correspondence: List of manufactured imports into Ireland 1921
                  Schedule of amounts of cloth used in Manchester and Cork plants per month
                     (by body type)
                  Number of cars made per day (by body type) at Cork,
                  Amounts of leather, cotton and wool cloth used at Cork
                  Floorspace of Cork, Ireland buildings

   Acc. 507 Manufacturing and Assembly Department records
      box 13 137-154 (includes Cork), 1946
      box 14 155-162 (includes Cork), 1946
      box 19 202 (includes Cork), 1946
      box 30 2-15 (includes Cork), 1947
      box 34 33-49 (includes Cork), 1947
      box 38 84-112A (includes Cork), 1947
      box 40 125-136 (includes Cork), 1947
      box 50 257-269 (includes Cork), 1947
      box 53 286-290 (includes Cork), 1947
      box 98 Branch correspondence; Cork, 1934-1938

   Acc. 712 International Division correspondence
      box 18 Cork, Ireland
                    Activity Reports 1933-1941
                    Body break down
                    Chassis - Springs
                    Cushion Springs
                    Estimated Requirements & Production - Firm orders
                    K.D. station wagon bodies
                    K.D. Stock Analysis
                    Leather trim
                    1948 program
                    Photos - Right hand drive K.D. Fordors
                    Schedules - Jan. 1948, Feb. 1948
      box 19 Cork, Ireland
                     Schedules, June, July, August, October, November 1947-1948

   Acc. 33 General subject files, Auditing records
      box 17 Foreign Branches - Cork shipments (Plant)

   Acc. 713 International Division correspondence
      box 5 Cork, 1947

   Acc. 199 Amtorg Trading Corporation records
      box 38 FMC-Cork, Ireland/Tractors, 11/28-3/29

   Acc. 714 International Division, Manufacturing and Assembly Department
      box 4 C-43 Miscellaneous, Cork, 1948
      box 7 C-72 Purchase notices, Cork

   Acc. 157 C. L. Martindale/Otto H. Husen files
      box 264 Branch Plant Costs; Cork and Manchester, c.1919-1938

   Acc. 880 Mira Wilkens research papers
      box 7 (6 folders on Ireland, 1917-1933)

   Acc. 1895 Housing in Cork photograph album, ca. 1920

   Acc. 823 P. E. Martin papers
      box 3 Photo album; Cork Plant and Cork City fire, 1921

   Acc. 49 Controller's Office records series
      box 26 Photo album; Cork

   Acc. 439 Henry Ford II European trip records
      box 1 Photo album, "Visit of Mr. Henry Ford II to Cork, Ireland," August 30-31, 1954

   Acc. 1660 Photograph vertical file
      box 19 Assembly Line Methods – Automobiles – Ford Motor Company – Ireland, Cork
      box 21 Assembly Line Methods – Tractors – Fordson – Ireland, Cork
      box 125 Industry – Automobiles – Ford  Motor Company – Buildings – Ireland, Cork
                       Ford, Henry II
      box 144 Industry – Tractors – Fordson – Buildings – Ireland, Cork

   Acc. 833 General photographs
      box 3 Foreign branches; Cork, Ireland (5 folders, 5a - 5e)

   Acc. 696 Renovated Assembly Plants photographs series
      box 13 Cork, Ireland, c. 1930s


Ford News
  See: Henry Ford & Son, Ltd.


Oral Histories
   65_ 35 B.R. Brown
   Acc. 834 Nevins and Hill Research, Percival Perry Interview Transcript


Vertical File
  Ford Motor Company – Plants – England & Ireland

  Tractors – Fordson
    Articles (2 folders)
        Articles, 1910s (2 folders)
        Cork Factory
        Patent Rights, Waived


Books and Secondary
   Are you Still Below? The Ford Marina Plant, Cork, 1917-1984. Miriam Nyhan
      338.476292 F699 N993 2007

   Starting Ireland on the Road to Industry: Henry Ford in Cork. Thomas Grimes
       338.476292 F699 G862 2008 (v.1 v.2)

   American Business Abroad: Ford on Six Continents. Mira Wilkins, Frank Ernest Hill
      338.476292 F699 W685 1964

   Ford: Expansion and Challenge, 1915-1933. Allan Nevins, Frank Ernest Hill
      338.76292 F699 N527 1957

Contact Us

ATTN: The Benson Ford Research Center remains closed to the public for in-person research, tours, and visits. It will remain closed until further notice, but Research Center staff members continue to respond to inquiries. Please contact us by email, phone, mail, or by submitting a question.


Benson Ford Research Center
The Henry Ford
P.O. Box 1970
Dearborn, Michigan, USA 48121-1970