A GROUP for former apprentices who worked at Longbridge is appealing for more members and wants people who learned their skills of the trade at the factory to get in touch.
Nigel Barfoot, who was at this year’s Pride of Longbridge Rally in Cofton Park with his 1980 Mini 1098cc Clubman, said the group already had 1,000 members but added there were many more out there who lived locally and had not yet been in touch.
“I came to the Austin to do cleaning jobs while I was at school and wanted to go into mechanical engineering.”
He managed to get his apprenticeship at the factory in 1967 and stayed until 1972.
He spent his first year in the workshop and was on day release at Bromsgrove College before undertaking mechanical engineering with the company at Aston University.
“It was a training ground like no other – the top skills you could learn were amazing.”
He added the Longbridge plant was so vast with so many different roles – from engineers and car assemblers to personnel, sales and marketing.
“When I was there we had around 500 apprentices, we were in car clubs and had a strong social life.
“There were two groups – the craft apprentices who lived locally and the engineers who came from across the UK and all over the World.
“A lot of us also got involved in motorsport – it was a natural progression.”
Nigel wanted to work at Longbridge but after finishing his apprenticeship there were no jobs available so he ended up working for British Leyland at its Cowley plant and then Unipart.
“I stayed for the rest of my career and later became a sales director but I wouldn’t have got there without the training I had at Longbridge.”
“I learnt so much – the academic and technical sides and working with people.”
Nigel added: “We’d love to hear from some more Austin Ex-Apprentices – it’s a brilliant way to stay in touch and we organise a reunion every year, as well as other events.”
Former workers can email [email protected] for more on the group.