Tell me again how we don’t make anything in the UK anymore

YT Icon Here at Industry.Co.UK, we are – of course – staunch supporters of UK manufacturing. Nothing gets our goat more than hearing that tired old cliché that "We don’t make anything in the UK anymore." As even a cursory glance through the news from Northern Manufacturing exhibitors on this blog will attest, nothing could be further from the truth. But a recent news item from Dave Tudor – the highly respected editor of PES Magazine – really puts some substance behind that assertion, with some facts and figures that even we found surprising. Read on, and prepare to feel proud to be British!


A recent visit to tooling manufacturer Guhring in Castle Bromwich revealed two things: firstly that the company’s new £2 million PCD/CBN facility was very much up and running and working well (see page 38 in the September issue); and secondly that I had missed perhaps one of the most significant pieces of TV broadcasting in recent times.

I am of course referring to the final Top Gear episode in the last series. Guhring has always been strong in the automotive sector and when I met with managing director Mike Dinsdale and UK sales manager Dave Hudson, we spent about 15 minutes talking about the show. I actually felt guilty for missing it. No matter though – YouTube provided some salvation.

The programme was significant because the last 15 minutes or so focused on the UK automotive sector and whilst it’s easy to linger on all the manufacturing we’ve lost over the years, a far better approach is to marvel and wonder at the stuff we still produce within this humble island of ours. This is what the team on Top Gear did – and they did it brilliantly – it was utterly compelling viewing. For anyone languishing in the ‘we don’t make anything here in the UK’ camp, I think you should read on.

"Today a new car rolls off a production line somewhere in Britain every 20 seconds," Jeremy Clarkson proudly announced. "Honda has a factory in Swindon manufacturing its Civic, Jazz and CrV models that employs 2,700 people; Toyota makes cars in Derbyshire which are then exported to Japan; last year, Nissan’s plant in the North East made more cars than the whole of the Italian motor industry put together."

Richard Hammond was equally impressed: "Last year one in three Fords sold globally had an engine made in either Wales or Essex; for five out of the last seven years, Aston Martin has been voted ‘the coolest brand in the world.

The UK has always been strong in autosport/motorsport circles, but did you know just HOW strong? Well, there are 11 F1 teams in the world and eight are based in Britain. "Seven can be seen from a certain hill in Oxfordshire," Mr Clarkson enthused.

And of course every success is underpinned by a prolific supply chain. Mr Clarkson seemed genuinely staggered as he divulged that practically all Indie Cars, every Dakar Rally winner since 2009, 35 of the 56 starters at this year’s Le Mans (including the winner), the Marussia F1 car and the Pagani Huayra, all use gearboxes manufactured at Xtrac’s factory in Berkshire.

The real pinnacle of the show however was towards the end when all companies that made motorised vehicles in the UK were asked to make their way to a ‘gathering’ in London. Aside from the companies previously mentioned (the F1 cars roaring through Milton Keynes were amazing), I defy anyone not feel unashamedly patriotic as The Mall in London filled to breaking point with UK manufactured vehicles: JLR, Triumph Motorcycles, JCB, Morgan, McLaren, Norton, Dennis – to name but a few, not to mention hordes of ice cream vans, hurses, lawn mowers, buses and tractors.

The sheer number of vehicles was eclipsed only by the truly jaw dropping diversity of what we do make here in the UK: "There’s more than I thought," chimed Richard Hammond. "This feels a bit special," Jeremy Clarkson added.

If you haven’t seen the program yet, you must. If you have seen it, watch it again. Head on over to YouTube and feel proud.

You can read the latest edition of Production Engineering Solutions online here