A fierce fire at the £10m. Rover car factory in Solihull, Warwickshire, last night, was tackled by more than 50 firemen in the trim shop area where new vehicles are assembled. After early reports put the damage as up to £200,000, Lord Stokes, chairman and managing director of British Leyland. said later: “We hope it is not as serious as we first thought, but obviously we will have to wait and see.”
As far as he knew only the the stores of the trim shop had been badly damaged. It was “very difficult ‘ to give any estimate, this depending on what could be salvaged. He added: “I am going there first thing in the morning.”
When the fire started workers rushed in and rescued 40 new models of the Rover 2000 and Rover 3500, valued at about £50,000. Lord Stokes praised their action saying: “I understand people going in on the night shift got the cars clear. They did a very good job indeed.”
Police sealed off the 300 foot by 600-foot trim shop, and after an hour and a half it was contained by the fire brigade. But conditions made it impossible for any work to be carried out, and the 700 workers were sent home. An official of Rovers said that the assembly line had not been damaged and production would be on the move again this morning. It was hoped to resume full production by Monday.
He said the managing director of Rovers, Mr. A. B. Smith, had discounted a theory that the fire had been caused by a firework as, “a load of nonsense”. The company carried out a detailed investigation throughout the night, and this was continuing today.