September 30th, 2016

Pride of Longbridge celebrates its tenth anniversary in style

Pride of Longbridge celebrates its tenth anniversary in style Pride of Longbridge celebrates its tenth anniversary in style
Updated: 10:41 am, May 07, 2015

THIS YEAR’S Pride of Longbridge (POL) Rally in Cofton Park on April 18 will mark the tenth anniversary of the collapse of the MG Rover factory.

The free event was launched in 2006 for former workers, the Longbridge community and motoring enthusiasts to get together and celebrate all that was achieved at the car plant.

Last year’s event was the biggest ever and this year the organisers are hoping to amass the biggest ever collection of cars made at Longbridge in one place.

Among the vehicles expected will be Minis, Rovers, MGs, Maestros, Metros and even Austin Allegros.

Organiser Gemma Cartwright said: “It’s a very rustic event and many of the workforce use it to meet each other and share memories.

“It is the only one that gathers all cars made or linked to Longbridge at one meet.

“It’s a very important one this year as well, recognising the tenth anniversary of the collapse.”

Throughout the year POL organises different community engagement projects to capture the local heritage so children born in 2005 can get an understanding of the foundations Longbridge was built on.

At 10am next Saturday (March 28), ahead of the POL Rally, there is a community art workshop at the Hollymoor Centre.

All age groups are welcome to the event, which will see an artist work with participants on transforming two trolley into cars linked to Longbridge – an MG3 and an Ausin Metro.

POL is also working on a book about former employees to capture their memories.

Anyone who worked at Longbridge or who had family working there is welcome to be included.

E-mail for more information or to submit memories and photographs.

For more on the rally, visit the Facebook page by searching for ‘Pride of Longbridge’.

LONGBRIDGE councillor Andy Cartwright was among those employed at the plant and since then he has worked hard for the area.

He said: “At the beginning the worry was Longbridge would become a ghost town as the heart was truly ripped out and the effect was more than just the workforce – it was the supply services from the local childminders to milkmen and shops.

“The reason I got involved was due to those making changes and decisions – it was their nine-to-five job and once targets had been hit and buildings popped up they would move and we – the ones who lived there – would be left to deal and live with what had been created on the former site.”

He added it was important to ensure residents’ voices were heard and that opportunities were created for all age groups.

The development on the site, which has included Bournville College, the new town centre and housing, has already brought 3,000 jobs and more are on the way.

Coun Cartwright added: “This is my personal priority to ensure we work with local JobCentres, schools and businesses to skill the area to take the jobs that become available to enable and benefit the local community and economy.”

He said when the new Sainsbury’s came, more than 250 residents of all ages and abilities attended an engagement workshop and, when the store opened, 85 per cent of the jobs went to local people.

Coun Cartwright added there were still issues to sort out, including mooted development on the North Worcestershire Golf Course and some infrastructure concerns.

“Our area is aware of the changes that are needed and so far they have been planned thoughtfully.

“Yes there have been many inconveniences along the way but residents have stated they are seeing the positive benefits.

“We have one chance to get Longbridge right, make it a place to live, work and grow old in.

“I hope we look back in another ten years remembering our heritage and supporting the vision for a future fit for all generations.”