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FORDS - History of Southampton's Transit plant.
SOUTHAMPTON'S Ford factory first opened in Swaythling in 1953 and after the first van rolled off the production line in 1972 it quickly became known as the 'Home of the Transit'.
As one of the company's most productive plants in Europe it assembles 350 vans a day and last year produced 70,000 Transits.
Today it has 1,243 employees and has produced more than 1.8million vans since it opened its doors more than 35 years ago.
It is now one of only two European Transit plants - the other is in Turkey.
Since the first days of the Transit the Southampton factory in Wide Lane has seen an investment of £600m and has established the vehicle as a British icon.
In 2005 the factory celebrated 40 years of the van with an advertising campaign featuring many of its workers.
Casting sessions were held and dozens of staff were filmed at factory, appearing as different types of driver who have got behind the wheel of one of the nearly five million of the vehicles that had been produced.
The advert showed builders, florists and even orchestra members played by workers as the production line at the plant, which runs in the background.
They appeared gliding along on giant conveyor belts at the plant, interspersed with shots of the Transit being built - and, finally, they come together and the actors drive away in their new vans.
Since its early days the design of the Transit has been constantly modified and updated reaching high profile success by winning the International Van of the Year in 2007.
But the history of the plant hasn't always been about record vehicle production and celebrations.
Eight years ago the Swaythling plant hit the headlines when a 30-year-old man drowned after falling into a paint vat.
Technical trouble-shooter Christopher Shute, 30, of Winchester Road, Shirley, Southampton, died trying to stop the paint collector overflowing.
Following a lengthy investigation and a hearing at Winchester Crown Court in 2003, Ford was fined a total of £300,000 and ordered to pay £46,688 costs, after the company pleaded guilty to two offences under the Health and Safety Act.
The company also took action to prevent any similar incidents happening at any of its plants worldwide.
In February last year the Daily Echo revealed how the plant had been the focus of an 18-month investigation into cancer deaths of employees.
Ford called for a health investigation after six cases of oesophageal cancer were discovered among paint shop workers between 1994 and 2005.
Dozens of more families also contacted the Echo with their own experiences of workers suffering from the disease throughout the decades.
The independent inquiry concluded that the cancer cluster was coincidental.
Earlier this year two Hampshire workers also won a partial victory in their battle to sue Ford over hearing loss.
Anthony Coffin, 52, and David Tarrant, 63, each claimed more than £10,000 from Ford to pay for hi-tech aids for loss of hearing caused by their jobs at the Transit plant.
A trial at Winchester County Court last November heard that Ford accepted the disability was partly caused by excessive noise at the factory. It accepted a breach of duty but disputed the level of compensation.
In a judgement handed down in a two-minute hearing, Judge Iain Hughes QC awarded £2,500 to Mr Coffin, of Salisbury Road, Totton, and £1,250 to Mr Tarrant, of Porlock Road, Redbridge.
The money was for two hearing aids for Mr Coffin and one for Mr Tarrant, who is now retired.