A group of MG Rover enthusiasts gathered last weekend at Longbridge’s Q Gate, marking the site’s closure and rumoured imminent demolition. The event took place as MG announced that it had managed to sell 10,000 cars in the UK since the beginning of 2019. It’s hit five-figures for the first time since the marque re-entered the UK market in 2011. The cars, badged as MGs, are now imported from China, with minimal engineering input from the UK following the closure of Longbridge and SMTC earlier in 2019.
The impromptu gathering held over the bittersweet weekend for MG was organised by ZS owner Dave Stokes, an Admin on the Rover Enthusiasts West Midlands Meets (REWMM) Facebook group. The gathering was planned as a show of solidarity for the few remaining staff working at Longbridge. There had been widespread rumours that the factory’s demolition was due to start this week, and the group organised one final photoshoot ‘while they could’.
MG’s sales milestone comes after years of slow growth and the company’s desire to look to the future rather than the past. Ever optimistic, Daniel Gregorious, Head of Sales and Marketing at MG, said: ‘While we celebrate this major milestone in MG’s ongoing growth in the UK, we continue to look ahead to the future. We continue to implement our Momentum and Growth mid-term plan [and], with a number of new additions to the MG range on the horizon, the marque will continue to deliver a value-for-money motoring experience without compromise.’
However, that future won’t feature Longbridge. Rumour has it that the factory won’t be razed to the ground just yet. No preparatory work will be taking place until 9 December at the earliest, and the demolition itself won’t now happen until early 2020. There was no confirmation about which buildings will be going, and what’s staying – but we understand that the iconic Round House could be receiving a stay of execution. More about that as we hear it, although it would be nice to think that the Longbridge prototypes could be housed in whatever’s left there.
Anyway, for the time being, there’s still confusion over the demolition, and whether there’s been a reprieve for Longbridge or not. Nicolas Roughol, the Manager of the Rover Club de France, said: ‘Apparently the demolition work on CAB1 and CAB2 has been postponed, [Birmingham] City Council hasn’t approved it yet. Probably middle of next year now…’ So, perhaps the gathering might turn out to have been a little premature.
Photography: Stephen Wright