Motown: Buildings of the Motor Industry

The beginnings of Motown: some motor industry buildings in Birmingham 1900-30.

Birmingham has come to symbolise the British motor industry: an English Detroit, "Motown" in Jonathan Meades' phrase. It was an early centre of the trade, although Coventry preceded it, with both Starley for motor cycles and Daimler for cars. However, by the mid 20th century, the Austin factory at Longbridge had become the largest car plant in the country, and Birmingham's tradition of general engineering took readily to the manufacture of motor components.

Birmingham's disdain for the past and its complex relationship with the motor car may account for the lack of interest in early motor industry survivals. There is, for example, no history of the motor industry in the city. For that and other reasons, this is tentative research, and any help and contributions will be very gratefully received.

Further Reading

The factory history here is largely drawn from Paul Collins & Michael Stratton, "British Car Factories From 1896" (Veloce, 1993).

Attributions are from the city building plans in the Birmingham Reference Library.