Ford plant in Cork, Ireland

Answer

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 1912, 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

Timeline

  • 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 productionResume vehicle production
  • 1933 Begin Model Y assembly
  • 1938 Cork plant produces 25,000th vehicle
  • 1949 Cork plant produces 75,000th vehicle
  • 1949 First 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 John Paul II visit
  • 1982 Plant updated becomes 1 car plant: Sierra
  • 1984 Factory closes (July 13, 1984)

Bibliography

Archival

  • Acc. 266 Henry Ford & Son, Ltd. Records
    • 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 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
        • January
        • 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. 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)
      ​​​​​​​
  • Small Accessions
    • Acc. 541 B.R. Brown Papers (includes letters authorizing travel to Cork in 1917
       
  • 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
      • Anniversaries
      • Exteriors
      • Ford, Henry II
    • box 144 Industry – Tractors – Fordson – Buildings – Ireland, Cork
      • Construction
      • Exteriors
      • Interiors
        ​​​​​​​
  • Acc. 833 General Photographs Series
    • 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

Vertical File

  • Ford Motor Company – Plants – England & Ireland
  • Tractors – Fordson
    • Articles (2 folders)
    • Correspondence
    • England/Ireland
      • Articles, 1910s (2 folders)
      • Cork Factory
      • Patent Rights, Waived

Books 

  • Last Updated Mar 27, 2024
  • Views 2787
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