After driving through the Cotswolds’ countryside last summer at the end of our British holiday, we had a night booked in a hotel near Tewkesbury. As we took our exit from the motorway, My Beloved Brit noticed a sign for Great Malvern. “That’s where Morgans are made!” he excitedly exclaimed. I saw a day trip in our future.
The only way I knew the Morgan is from NCIS, the tv crime drama. Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, the character played by David McCallum, has a Morgan…a classic British car, with a great history of style…which the character restored himself.
MBB called the Morgan headquarters, and found out we could get on a factory tour the next morning.
Driving the back roads through the Malverns, which are lovely rolling hills, we found the sign for the showroom on the backside of the town of Great Malvern.
When we entered the Visitors Center, it was jammed. Many of the visitors were from Norway and had brought their Morgans to the factory as part of an annual rally.
The guided tour was long (2 hours), but MBB was in heaven.
I must admit, seeing a car built by hand and not on a mechanized assembly line was quite a treat.
It is one of the oldest sports car companies in the world, and although they have modernized somewhat, the tradition of handwork is still strong.
The factory had back orders on the books for the next four months.
But even greater than that, they have an apprentice program where youth are brought in for four years. They go to college for classes one day a week. The other four days are at the factory learning to be craftsmen. Hopefully they work up through the ranks learning new skills and become seasoned car builders.
This is the part of the British education system that I think we could learn from. Trades are still an option in the school system.
There were very few women on the lot except in the offices, and stitching the upholstery. That is traditional too, it seems.
But it is a tight-knit group and as our tour ended we saw groups of workers sitting on the floor or out in picnic kiosks having their lunch, often bread and apples and cheese, and most likely talking about the weekend soccer match.
The whole operation is so very British.
We were able to see cars being made start to finish.
From the first frame,
to the upholstery and finishing
and the last paint job.
A very interesting day.