Events : We Made it, at the Birmingham Science Museum

Rover SD1 in the Science Museum (1)
Rover SD1 stars in the ‘We Made It’ exhibition at the Think Tank Birmingham Science Museum.
(Pictures: Prudence Greenwood)

It’s official – the Rover SD1 is a museum piece. It features in a new ‘We Made It – nuts, bolts, gadgets and gizmos’ exhibition has opened at the Think Tank Science Museum in Birmingham. The exciting new gallery uncovers the fascinating science of materials, manufacturing and reducing waste in the region.

We made it features more than 20 interactive exhibits that show just how and why Birmingham became known as ‘the workshop of the world’. Visitors are taken on a journey from raw materials to finished product, demonstrating how everyday goods are produced.

The journey is illustrated by around 1200 intriguing objects from Birmingham’s world-renowned manufacturing and natural science collections, and contemporary products made or designed in Birmingham.

Find out what links a car and a cow, what makes treasure like jewellery valuable, why we use certain types of packaging, and how products are held together. The gallery contains four distinct areas, each focussing on an area of manufacturing for which Birmingham is renowned:

  1. Nuts and Bolts – Learn about Birmingham’s role in making iron and steel goods for the world.
  2. Treasure – Precious possessions made from precious metals and gemstones.
  3. Tins and Things – Discover why the West Midlands is the home of aluminium production and decorative glass.
  4. Gadgets – Come and uncover inventions that have changed everyday life, from cameras to mobile phones; and find out why wood and plastic have been used to produce these items.

More at:

Science museum

Keith Adams


  1. Nice to see an SD1 at this Museum and how appropriate an exhibit it is. It looks in really good condition too. Who could have thought that when this particular car was built (1981/82) that MGRover would close down in less than 25 years?

  2. @1 – Anyone who bought an early one would be amazed that it would take as long as 25 years !!! Alas, whilst the concept was superb, it was designed with insufficient thought to the manufacturing process and then built by militant fools. Such a shame.

  3. “Discover why the West Midlands is the home of aluminium production…” – or, in the SD1’s case, iron oxide production.

    Whilst I have to agree with Peter’s comment (and I speak from experience) I’m glad to see this kind of initiative and will try to visit next time I’m in that neck of the woods. If we are to have any hope of building a balanced economy, we should make visits to such exhibitions compulsory for children, rather than leaving them to ‘game’ and ‘facebook’.

  4. I just hope that JLR would build a new SD1 but to the comparative quality of the Rover P6. A forward looking design but with the interior quality of Rover 75. That could and would sell through Land Rover dealers in volume.

  5. My first thought if it was an SD1 was it should read “We Made It,(Badly)”. ANd I was there in Birmingham throught the turmoil of the 70s and 80s although not in the motor industry.

    Sorry to be a curmudgeon but they really were awfully built cars, and it wasn’t just the workers sloppiness, the whole management shebang needed sacking !

  6. U.S.A…chiming in here,..I agree , sadly with several of the Sorts from the above ever I feel that this particular model WOULD have really made an impact if things had/would/are sorted out..If you the Reader will take the time to jump over to the ROVER SD1 site, you will see a Colour , descriptively styled modern Rover SD1, so there is no mistake, it is Silver. This is a remarkably updated Swift design, that actually could be used today, and again by any one that has Creative “Delorean” Money, to spend on such a fabulous future, practical Automobile, and the continuance of the “ROVER” unique identiy, of fashion..<did ya get all that?, lol…/British

  7. just shows how the sd1 has stood the test of time in its styling and how forward thinking the design was in 1976 when most cars were still boxes!! had mine 23 years loved every minute!!!

  8. Just to say that my Rover 75 V6 was the best car I have ever had, so it can’t have been the workers.

    BL Management was truly dreadful, how they got their jobs is beyond me.

  9. My 1982 2600S was brilliant, rust free and reliable (owned in 1987/8). My brother had a 3500SE at the same time, built in the same model year, just before the big facelift….it was awful, but fantastic to drive when working

  10. We had four SD1 at the beguinning of the 1980´s. A 3500 from 1977 which was a very reliable car but it corroded so fast that the car had to be changed in 1981 (2300S) which had no problems whith corrosion or any other thing exept it was looking so well that it was stolen in 1984. 1984 there was following a new 2300S in red with red interior. It was reliable too but was very slow. These were all the cars of my grandfather.
    My dad bought his SD1 in 1979 (2600) which was lovely except the petrol pump which liked to strike until we bought a new one in 1983 which we never fitted to the car. Since the new pump was in the boot the old one worked until now. The car is now in the ownership of my father and he loves to drive it because the engine is so much smoother than the engine of his 820SI from 1989 which he still keeps too.

  11. @2 Was having a discussion about Birmingham in another forum and figured out why it went into a slow decline, being a seat for militant trades unionism and relying too much on one industry.

    In the century up to 1970’s you have to remember that Birmingham was a city of a thousand trades, all traders and industrialists were free to enter or leave without restriction. It was this free flow of the trades that made Birmingham the powerhouse that it was. The Chamberlains had huge influence over parliament and guided Birmingham to the massive riches which made it a hugely powerful city to rival London. Don’t forget that at the time it had Britain’s biggest bank, The Midland and indeed, most of Birmingham’s income actually came from the service sector.

    Around the 1970’s things started to change. With no Chamberlains in power any more to push Birmingham’s interests, the socialist government at the time felt that Birmingham had become too powerful and was sucking the wealth away from the rest of the country. More seriously it had become a major rival to London…… However the policy that followed also affected London in the same way (the difference being that London recovered with the ‘Big Bang’ of the 1980’s).

    Restrictions on trades were placed entering or leaving Birmingham and big companies such as Birds couldn’t expand their businesses – even to the point where the government tried to restrict, as much as possible, the building of high-rise offices for businesses within the city.. all trades were subject to the same restrictions and were even encouraged to move further north to places such as Manchester and Liverpool, and of course Wales and Scotland.

    Eventually Birds ended up moving up to Liverpool, as did some sections of BL. Others followed. Priory to this, relations between employers and trades unions were actually pretty much harmonious but it’s been said that the militancy spread like a germ towards the Midlands (East and West), and became ingrained in daily Midland life. Worse still, many of the other trades had left which meant Longbridge had to carry the burden of providing jobs and the subsequent ‘wealth’for the city.

    Along with the gradual decline of the trades that helped to build this city, BL was in a state of crisis from the mid 1970’s to the early 1980’s and was reflected in the city itself. The awful neglect that Birmingham suffered from as a result and the bad taste left in it’s mouth was criminal. When restrictions were eventually removed, London had the Big Bang to fall back on to lift them up. In the 1990’s Manchester had the whole ‘Madchester’ scene along with two major football teams, and the Commonwealth Games that seemed to have carried it’s reputation forward today. Birmingham has had to work hard to erase the craziness of the 1970’s without the attention (or the money) that has been sprinkled liberally on the other cities over the past two decades. Even BBC Pebble Mill has been ripped down (this was BBC Television Centre’s Right-Hand man if you like), and little coverage or production is based here (interesting fact, as a ratio, we pay the most of TV license fee but get the very least out of it!)

    Thankfully, when MG was lost, the motor industry had become just a large minority income for the city and when many lost their jobs on that fateful day, it didn’t harm the city too much since it had already begun to move forward well before then.

    Thankfully much has changed and the bad old days are behind it (with admittedly far further to go) but at a very obvious cost. Had the restriction not been in place, Birmingham could have become what Frankfurt is to Berlin.

    Sorry for boring you but even though I’m not a Brummie, I do feel that the corner needs to be fought to understand why the city and the people are the way they are today..

    I do think it’s a great place and it’s very slowly getting better…. And the cars? Yep, they were a bit pants but they were clever and highlighted the ingenuity that the city had become famous for.

  12. Will try to catch up with this new gallery display on my next visit to Birmingham. Used to be a frequent visitor to the old Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry in Newhall Street and, in my view, the thinktank experience is generally very poor and very bad value for money. There are very few cars on display and the ones that are are displayed like sculptures and completely out of context. That comment applies particularly to the Railton Mobil Special of John Cobb.

    Hopefully the new gallery makes use of what seemed to me to be redundant space on my previous visit.

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