IT’S the iconic building that has towered over north Southampton for years.

At its peak, thousands of workers made their way to and from the Ford Transit Plant in Swaythling every day, turning out thousands of new vehicles every week.

But soon there will be nothing left of the factory as demolition work continues, reducing the huge plant to rubble.

These pictures show that the work has exposed the skeleton of the main factory building at the site, which within weeks will be nothing but a memory.

It is now more than two years since the plant, which was first opened in 1972, closed its doors for the last time.

The death knell came as Ford completed a highly controversial move to relocate its Transit plant to Turkey.

More than 4,000 people were employed at the factory during its peak, while more than 2.2 million Transit vans rolled off its production lines.

Some of the last vans produced at the site were presented to the city and are now being used by charities and groups helping vulnerable people in Southampton.

While 356 workers took voluntary redundancy after the plant’s closure, some did find work in Ford’s new vehicle refurbishment centre on the site.

A new distribution centre is also set to open in the docks where some former factory-based workers will be employed.

Diggers moved on to the site earlier this summer to knock down the factory buildings that were once one of the city’s biggest employers.

Ford, which is funding the work, says the remaining buildings, including the huge factory visible from the M27 and miles around, will be knocked down by the end of the year.

It is hoped that when the last bulldozers leave the site a deal will have been struck to return manufacturing and skilled employment back to at least part of the site.

Commercial agents Cushman and Wakefield are selling the site on behalf of the automotive giant and bids are now being welcomed. As previously reported in the Daily Echo, Labour city council leader Simon Letts has said that the priority must be to return it to its past use for employment. As a result he said that bids for housing or retail would not be initially welcomed.

Earlier this year he told this paper: “We’ve made it very clear that this is an employment site, if not entirely for employment purposes then certainly largely for it.

"We are flexible in terms of what industry, but we have a preference of high-end manufacturing.”

As revealed by the Daily Echo earlier this year, there are hopes luxury car-giant and James Bond favourite Aston Martin could choose to build its new factory there.

Daily Echo:

It is believed the firm, which has headquarters in Warwickshire, is looking for a new site to build thousands of new 4x4 vehicles.

Current speculation is that there is no space for it to so at its current base.

Conservative Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith has already written to the firm’s chief executive urging him to choose the site for its base and he has been supported by local politicians and business leaders.

A spokesman for Ford said: “Marketing of the site began in May and is progressing as expected with the process on target to be completed by the end of the year.

“The expectation is still that the site will continue to be a base for business use, providing a source for employment.”