Photo Outtake: The Rootes Group Supply Chain In Action

Britain’s Rootes Group had a very different infrastructure compared to many other manufacturers. The company’s key assembly plant was at Ryton, just outside Coventry; engines were built in Coventry itself; spares distribution was from the old Singer works in Birmingham; there was assembly and casting for the Hillman Imp in Scotland in the 1960s and steel pressing, some body assembly and luxury trim and finish in west London, through British Light Steel Pressings (BLSPL) and the old Thrupp and Maberley works in Acton. But Ryton had no pressing facility, and the group was dependent upon a complex supply chain for much of its steel pressing and body assembly, notably through Pressed Steel based at Cowley in Oxford and BLSPL.

All this led to a complex network of vehicle and train movements. I hesitate to describe these trucks as transporters, as the bodies are clearly just that, and stacked on stillage units loaded on a prepared flat bed truck. Date wise, we’re looking at 1958, based on the grilles being Minx Series III, but given the variety of grilles Hillman used and minor tweaks that occurred, I may be a year out. These Hillman Minx convertibles will be travelling to BLSPL Acton,  for final assembly with the drivetrain and interior, after being pressed, assembled and painted at Pressed Steel.

Meanwhile, this load of Minx saloons and Husky hatchbacks(?) will be travelling from Oxford to Coventry for final assembly.

Here we have a batch of Humber Hawk and Super Snipe bodyshells,  moving from Acton to Coventry, for paint and assembly. In each case, the truck is a Rootes built Commer.

In 1965, BMC bought put Pressed Steel and merged it with Fisher and Ludlow to create Pressed Steel Fisher. BMC then broke up PSF, effectively forcing Rootes to buy the Scottish plant that built the unfinished Hillman Imp and take on all the Rootes work from Cowley. This all contributed to Rootes’s existing need to find a strong partner, in Chrysler, and was a factor in the company’s ultimate fate.