Special Purpose Machines - Part V, Historic Records
Machine Record Log
A log of all Special Purpose machines was maintained, this recorded the Serial Number, Technical Reference Number, Customer, Component, Operations and Machine Type. The record lists over 1,000 Special Purpose machines manufactured at Hollingbury, and sold into almost every developed and emerging country in the world. It’s a shame the date of manufacture is not recorded, however from the location of many of the photos it’s possible to estimate the dates. Very early machines were photographed in the No 2 factory, and date from around 1953 – 1958. Production was switched to the new No 6 factory after it was completed in 1958.
Ford Kent Engine
Some of the earliest Special Purpose machines produced were used to manufacture the Ford Kent engine, which was fitted to the Anglia from 1959. The Kent engine was modified and upgraded, to suit newer models of Ford cars, several times over a period of many years. Each time the engine was redesigned, new or modified Special Purpose machines were supplied. Additionally the engine was not just manufactured at the Dagenham factory; it was made around the world, on machines supplied by the Company. Some of the last special purpose machines produced by the Company were for the modified Kent engine, used on the Ford Fiesta during the 1980’s. The Company went out of business in 1994; it’s somewhat ironic that the Kent engine and thousands of other components continued to be manufactured on Special Purpose machines, long after the Company went out of business!
In 1974, at the age of 20 I finished my 4 year apprenticeship, and at about that time I passed my driving test! My first car was an old Ford Anglia, in the winter it was difficult to start, I remember having to put the HT Leads in mum’s oven to dry out, then it would start and the old Kent engine ran like clockwork. Nowadays, 2 or even 3 car families are very common, and most kids would probably turn their nose up at the thought of cleaning a car. With car ownership taken for granted, I guess there’s no excitement as there was for me nearly 60 years ago! In part this is due to the manufacture of Special Purpose machines at Hollingbury!