A New Exhibition: Factor Us In

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I went along to the British Motor Museum to take a look at their new exhibition, ‘Factor Us In’ which tells the fascinating stories of those communities and people which makes up the West Midlands’ motor industry.

The exhibition looks at the impact and effects of the motor manufacturing plants on the surrounding landscapes, people and other businesses with a clear focus on the plants at Canley, Coventry, Lode Lane, Solihull and Longbridge, Birmingham. The Museum has combined its our own extensive collections with that of the real life stories of local people who worked & lived within the factories and motor manufacturing communities.

Kevin Timms Chair of the Board of Trustees of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust

‘Factor Us In’ uses a combination of the Museum’s rich collections of archival material, artefacts and oral history videos and recordings to illustrate those themes. Its style is very much of overheard conversations, celebrating the people that helped make the factory communities what they are today.

The exhibition reveals many aspects of the changing social history of an industry that has dominated the lives of communities in the West Midlands region for more than a century. The sometimes fractious working relationships between the government, trade unions and management during the 1970`s was also highlighted with video of strike action orchestrated by Derek Robinson (Red Robbo) and references to British Leyland Chairman Sir Michael Edwardes and the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It explores the community response to key moments across the industry including manufacturing booms, strike actions, the subsequent loss of industry and recent efforts for redevelopment and diversification in employment.

Some of the contributors and the British Motor Museum staff involved in the exhibition.

Names are, starting with front left to right

Carolyn McLaughlin– Contributor/ Alan Woodier – Contributor/ John Batchelor – Contributor/ Tom Caren -Contributor and BMM Staff member/ Giovanni Esposito – contributor/

Next table – BMM Staff Catherine Griffin – Curator/ Mark Bradbury – Archive Volunteer/ David Bellamy – Exhibitions Officer/ Jim Ellison – Costumed Explainer / Claire Broader – Costumed Explainer – alias Ray & Shirley

Please find below a short biography of the 4 contributors that attended the press launch & are in the photograph

John Batchelor – worked at the former Standard-Triumph factory at Canley in the 1980s after its closure, and then transferred to Longbridge. He runs LinkedIn groups for former Rover employees.

Alan Woodier – was a third generation Standard-Triumph apprentice, starting at Canley in 1968. He excelled and won apprentice of the year in 1969. He worked on trim, and still makes motorbike seats to this day.


Spoz (Giovanni Esposito)  – is an award winning performance poet, singer / songwriter, film maker, playwright and is the poet-in-residence at Birmingham City FC. He worked at Longbridge on the track and many of his poems reflect on the end of production at Longbridge.

Carolyn McLaughlin’s dad worked at Solihull, going to evening classes at night to transfer from production to engineering. Carolyn grew up with trips to the factory for children’s parties and special tours, days out at panto put on by the workers and helping her dad with the horticultural show. 

The Museum is committed to engaging and broadening its audience by creating extensive local links and other partnerships to capture and share the diverse stories linked to the automotive industry. With its rich collections of archival material, artefacts and oral history videos and recordings, the Museum is uniquely placed to uncover the tales the people, places and products that shaped the motor manufacturers.

The Museum wants to encourage more people to engage with the history on their doorstep to incorporate their own recollections during its lifetime, unlocking more stories of motor car communities. You can contribute to the exhibition by emailing the museum:


An online component will evolve continually throughout its run and compliment the physical exhibition, where the museum will collect and display new stories and exhibits, building an even better picture of the conversations heard in the places around those factories.


Go and take a look at the new exhibition, Factor Us In, then stop and explore the rest of the Museum.

The British Motor Museum has one of the best car collections in the world but it is much more than just a motor museum. From a comprehensive archive and picture library, education and learning programmes for schools and colleges, a spectacular calendar of specialist motoring events, clubs, rallies, group visits, to weddings, corporate team building and conference facilities, there is a lot more at the venue to be discovered.Whether visiting as an individual, couple, family, school or other organisation the museum is well equipped to provide for the needs and interests of everyone.


The Museum has hundreds of events throughout the year so there is sure to be something to satisfy interests from `petrol head` to curious observer! The vast site is always being improved and holds many special event days throughout the year.I had a wonderful day at the museum and would fully recommend you visit too in the very near future for a fun, educational and absorbing day out.

A great day out will be guaranteed for all of the family. The Museums Website is excellent providing a clear, detailed, colourful, bright and easily accessible guide to everything you need to know about visiting the museum and what you will find when you get there. There is also a gift shop with a wide choice of Motoring-related gift ideas. A percentage of every purchase supports the charitable work of the BMIHT (British Motor Industry Heritage Trust) to continue their fine work.