Chequered flag waved on Fort Dunlop motorsport tyre manufacture
Tyre production at Fort Dunlop, a site that was Europe’s largest tyre manufacturing facility as recently as the 1970s, has ended as Dunlop Motorsport transfers its motorsport capacity to facilities in France and Germany. A total of 241 manufacturing jobs vanished as the final shift left the factory on the afternoon of 30 May; local MP Jack Dromey, who had fought to retain Dunlop motorsport manufacturing in Birmingham since Goodyear Dunlop first announced plans to leave the site a year ago, referred to the end of production as “a day of shame”.
Dromey continued: “They could have moved three miles to Aston. “But a decision was made 3,500 miles away in Ohio to end 125 years of manufacturing in Birmingham.” The first tyres were produced at Fort Dunlop in 1902, and the well-known A-grade locally listed building was designed in the 1920s. Production of motorsport and specialist tyres continued in Fort Dunlop after the cessation of volume tyre production in the 1980s, however the site’s sale to Jaguar Land Rover sealed the fate of tyre production there. When faced with the choice of utilising existing facilities abroad for motorsport tyre production or setting up a new plant nearby, Goodyear management chose the latter.
“It is a sad situation for everyone. We didn’t want, or had expected, to be in this position,” commented James Bailey, marketing and communications director, Dunlop Motorsport Europe. “In moving, you would have to build a brand new factory and we already had two other factories with capacity and capability in France and Germany. It is not just a case of making a choice between Birmingham and France and Germany – it was down to timescale and there is a cost factor.”
A Goodyear representative confirmed to Tyres & Accessories that following Saturday’s end of production, non-production activities are continuing in Fort Dunlop for the coming few weeks. Car tyre production is being transferred to Goodyear Dunlop’s Hanau factory in Germany while motorcycle tyre production will be carried out in the Montlucon facility in France. The representative added that racing logistics is continuing as normal and so far the transfer of production is being implemented according to plan.