Goodbye Blackpool : Hello TVR Ebbw Vale
It is ironic that at the same time as the last physical remnants of the former TVR car assembly factory on Bristol Avenue have been levelled - the new reconstituted TVR company announces it is setting up an assembly plant in Wales.
This is good news for Wales and particularly the people of Ebbw Vale where the company has opted to establish its brand and base in 2016. Located in the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone TVR management have announced plans to design and build four new models as part of a ten year plan with projected annual output of 2000 units by 2022 (six years hence). Around 150 direct new jobs are being created - all of a high value - and no doubt at least two or three times indirect employment supporting the plant will be of immense economic benefit locally.
TVR - as everyone knows, was founded in Blackpool in the aftermath of WWII by Trevor Wilkinson whose early operations were at Hoo Hill industrial estate - the site of an old brickworks. I well remember passing by this location in the mid 1950s on the Number 9 Bus service on my way into Blackpool for school - and seeing some pretty strange cars from the top deck of the bus as it headed up to the Windmill.
Later moving to Bristol Avenue - a less than prepossessing location for a sports car operation - but handy enough in terms of existing industrial zoned land - TVR progressed into the annals of UK sportscar folklore. TVR Owners retain an enormous amount of pride in their vehicles - with a nationwide body that ensures the brand is kept in the forefront of UK automotive history. Cleveleys Car Show (above) always has several gleaming examples of later models all assembled at Bristol Avenue, Blackpool.
No doubt the Wales Government's economic arm provided a strong incentive to the new TVR company, which acquired rights or control of the brand from the Russian
owner whose dilatory style after taking over - resulted in the company's demise. Having been involved with the move of John DeLorean's project to Belfast in the 1970s - I am personally familiar with the need for fast and comprehensive economic packages to be tabled to attract a truly mobile car assembly project and its Owners. Blackpool is in the process of creating its own Enterprise Zone - on most of the land surrounding the downsized Squires Gate Airport. It is to be hoped that a creative, determined and visionary approach will be the hallmark of the management team responsible for its development. There are already far too many large warehouse and distribution 'boxes' offering little in the way of skills or higher value employment - whilst taking up inordinate amounts of valuable land and adding high volume haulage traffic on to constrained access roads. What Blackpool certainly needs for its school and college leavers are intelligence led jobs with real skill content - locally.
Congratulations to the people of Ebbw Vale. The emergence of a new TVR group with stylish designs - will never completely be without the residual heritage of this Blackpool founded marque. No doubt the story bringing old and new together may find a well deserved role in the proposed transport heritage venue, now subject of leisure consultants' study for Blackpool and the Fylde coast.