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2 September 2014
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Social Change: Employment 1945 to 1979

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Linwood the new start

Photograph of Rootes factory.

Rootes

In the late 1950s the British government tried to encourage the development of new industries in Scotland by opening a new steel mill in Central Scotland. This steel mill at Ravenscraig near Motherwell would create new jobs and supply other new industries with an important raw material from a local source. The government then persuaded the Rootes company, which was based in England to open a car factory at Linwood near Paisley.

Linwood was the first car factory to be opened in Scotland since World War Two. The factory covered 450 acres with 3,000,000 square feet of industrial floor space. At least 6,000 new jobs in car manufacturing would be created in Scotland, and this would rise to 9,000 within a few years. The Linwood car factory cost £23.5 million, and was designed to produce 150,000 cars each year.

From the beginning the Linwood factory faced difficulties. The Imp did not sell as well as had been expected. Production costs were high because car bodies, and other parts, had to be transported back and forward between Linwood and other Rootes factories. A combination of poor management and powerful trade unions led to frequent and costly breaks in production. The American company Chrysler took over the Linwood factory in 1967. Production of the Imp ceased in 1976 and Chrysler sold the factory to the French company Peugeot-Citroen in 1979. Peugeot-Citroen closed Linwood in 1981.

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