1960s Mini rolls off production line, adjacent to MG6 production line
Image by Simon Thompson courtesy of  University of Derby

Twenty-five year old Simon Thompson developed a love of the Mini at an early age. Growing up in Wales, his dad used to race them.

For the last project for his University of Derby BA (Hons) Commercial Photography degree course Simon Thompson took his own 1960 model Mini – one of the first sold – back to the Longbridge Plant in Birmingham where it was built.

Simon photographed his car at the plant alongside Doug Adams, 91, who worked on the Mini prototype alongside its creator Sir Alec Issigonis, when the two men became friends. Doug still lives on the Longbridge Estate in Birmingham, established by the Austin motor company at the end of the First World War.

Simon said “I learnt about the history of the Mini’s production. Two years ago I was at an event at the Heritage Motor Centre for British cars, in Gaydon, in Warwickshire, when I met Doug and heard all about the car’s early design.

“We kept in touch and, when I was putting together my degree project, it seemed only natural to get Doug into the photos of where it all began.”

Doug added: “It was interesting to see how the plant had changed. I remember being there with Sir Alec Issigonis, who was quite a character.”

MG Motor UK Ltd gave Simon access to the original Mini factory site, much of which is still standing.

Ian Pogson, MG Motor UK Ltd’s Chief Engineer (After Sales Engineering), said: “MG Motor UK is well aware of its proud past associated with the Mini and Sir Alec Issigonis, and has preserved some original Minis in a small museum which also includes Lord Austin‘s office.

“We were able to allow Simon very special access to these areas and for Doug Adams to once again walk into the old Mini Design Studio. Simon was able to photograph his Mini alongside the assembly line of the recently launched MG6, causing quite a stir amongst our assembly team.”

Simon’s photographs will be on display at the University of Derby’s Markeaton Street site as part of its annual Degree Shows, which began on Saturday 4 June and runs until Saturday 11 June.

L-R: Ian Pogson, MG Motor UK Ltd's Chief Engineer (After Sales Engineering); Doug Adams, of the original Mini prototype team; and photographer Simon Thompson at the Longbridge plant

Read the full story on the University of Derby’s website


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