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The final days for Freight Rover

In the very early days of personal computers I had the fantastic experience to be in charge of PCs and mini-computers in Freight Rover. Since then it became LDV and sadly the company closed down in the last few years.

Today I had the opportunity to visit the site with my daughter, Sarah, and our cameras.

The site, known as Common Lane, was actually based from Drews Lane. When working there it was obviously a decent sized bit of land, this was difficult to appreciate because of all the buildings.



coomon lane demolition

Sadly, without the buildings it’s easy to see how large the site really was.



bromford house

The site originally started making small vans was an office block with assembly buildings – Bromford House was on Drews Lane. (It still is, but not for long, as this picture shows). This picture clearly shows how factories were often built East to West. The long side of the triangle in the roof line faces south to gain the maximum amount of light during the working day.


Without the landmarks of the buildings it was very difficult to orient.

Very few buildings were still standing – the last ones to be taken down are those around the many sub-stations in the site. A vehicle factory consumed huge amounts of power. In Common Lane there were four 110KV (that’s 110,000 volts) substations.



assembly track

This was the final assembly building – the huge pit is where the conveyor belt controls and return feed were housed.



offices and metro cammel

The pile of rubble on the left hand side is where the main office block of Freight Rover was based (along with the fledgling IT offices). The buildings in the background were the manufacturing facilities of Metro Cammell. If you think you’ve seen that name before, look in the doorway of lots of underground trains.


common lane glider facility

During the Second World War the part of the site made gliders. These were made here. In the background is the M6 (between Junction 5 and Junction 6) – beyond that is Castle Bromwich – where Spitfires were built.


press shop

The space in the background was the Press Shop – huge presses which made body panels from rolls of steel. This was one of the largest press shops in Europe.
In 1985 we installed a very complicated PC/ mainframe solution here – this involved us IT folks working lots of night shifts and being there for the shift changes. The noise in this building was incredible, and the folks working there were equally fantastic.

This experience was strange and very moving.  They say you shouldn’t go back to an old place of employment – this opportunity was quite incredible.