MG returns to its roots
"The history of MG is forever aligned with Abingdon"
Icon of the British motoring industry, MG, has at last come home with the first MGs in many years appearing on an Abingdon forecourt.
It has been 90 years since the MG company started in 1924 and was founded by Morris Motor’s employee Cecil Kimber. William Morris retained a large stake of the company for most of MGs early years, but it was Kimber who was the brains behind the company. The company got its name from Morris Garages, a dealer of Morris cars in Oxford which began producing its own customised versions to the designs of Cecil Kimber.
At first, the sports cars MG made were Morris models that had been made in Coventry and were modified at the Alfred Lane premises in Oxford. Demand for MG cars grew and their premises moved to Bainton Road, also in Oxford before a further move in 1927 to Cowley. But a permanent home was desperately needed and eventually the company moved to a disused leather factory in Abingdon in 1929. William Morris himself owned the company personally until 1935 when he sold it to his other car company, Morris Motors.
Knowing that publicity was the best advert for cars, MG also had a motorsport division. Its dedicated racing cars were competing in various races during the 30s. When MG was formally merged with Morris Motors in the late 30s, focus turned from races to pure speed. A design and engineering department was set up specifically to help Captain George Eyston to take several world speed records. Later, Goldie Gardner drove for MG and achieved speeds of over 200mph.
In 1945, production turned towards helping the war effort. The fortunes of MG were further set-back by the tragic death of Cecil Kimber in a rail accident.
However, production continued again after the war and the town was home to the MG production line until 1980 when the factory closed. While many of the sites around the town were demolished, a few parts of the production plant are still standing and now used as warehouses for various local businesses. There is also a memorial garden to the MG plant, which lays just a few metres from where the main factory once stood
And now, over 90 years later, MGs will once again be sold in the town where they were first made so many years ago. The marque is now owned by the Nanjing Automobile Group and they are keeping the spirit of the MG by launching a range of new cars. The new MG GS cars started to roll off the production line recently and for the first time in many years, a dealership in Abingdon will sell them. Lodge Hill Garage, well known for having a replica Spitfire on display at its location on top of the hill by the Abingdon North A34 junction, is now the place to go if you are looking to buy your own little bit of Abingdon history.
The garage also recently had a fully restored vintage MG TC on sale as well, which was lovingly restored by a local expert. Director at Lodge Hill Nigel Murrin says: "We're delighted to have MG back in Abingdon , the home of MG, and at Lodge Hill Garage, a garage that in the past sold the MG mark and we're looking forward to serving the people of Oxfordshire"
The history of MG is forever aligned with Abingdon and even though the cars are no longer made there, the town retains a loving affection for what many consider to be one of the most iconic car companies in history.
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