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Project Solihull, The Rover SD1 factory    
The three main 1400 ft long production lines at the new Rover factory plant stand  ready and empty. Three years and 31 million pound have been spent for an astonishing  12 acre, three storey painting facility and a 23 acre assembly hall to build new Rovers  efficiently and economically, to the highest standards of quality, by a work-force in  comfortable and pleasant conditions. Soon the Rover SD1 will drive out of this factory. The new plant was necessary because existing Rover production facilities were already  crammed full to overflowing with the successful Land-Rover and Range Rover and with  luxury car production. The formal decision to build was taken in November 1972, and  the town planning approval was awarded in February 1973.  Rovers previous factory was to small to built all the cars sold. And this new plant was  intended to put that problem right. Market research had shown that the potential  sales for the new car were far higher than anything that had emerged before from  Solihull.  In all respects it was an unprecedented project for Britain's motor industry. To match  the scale of the operation, the organisations to be involved were counted in scores  architects, consulting engineers, quantity surveyors, landscape architects, the main  contractor and his many sub-contractors, amounting to a labour force of 350 at the  peak of building work.  The business executive who glances down as he flies out of Birmingham's Elmdon  airport has the best view of the whole 100-acre site. The vast grey pvc-coated steel  clad main assembly hall (bigger than the National Exhibition Centre's six show halls a  few miles away) have been carefully shielded from the stray glances of ground level  passers-by. When you swing off the broad blacktop of the A45 arterial road between Birmingham  and Coventry and down Damson Lane into The grounds of the new plant, no suggestion  of the industrial might behind the meticulously landscape contours of the man-made  hills intrudes until you are past the barriers of the works entrance.  The project demanded two major buildings. The new three-storey paint shop, planned  to handle all Rover car production, was built within the boundary of the existing  factory. It presented few visual problems, but was carefully insulated to minimise  noise and fumes. Typical measure was the use of an air treatment system which  ensures that the exhaust gases are acceptable and uses heat which would otherwise be lost from the gases exhausted from the paint drying ovens. The long frontage facing Elmdon Park is masked by a transitional area 60 yards deep  irregularly planted with fast-growing evergreens and shrubs, interspersed with the  majestic oaks that have stood so long. Finally, to make certain that residents received a positive benefit from the factory's  construction, a new highway standard carriageway being driven through to reverse  much of the traffic flow away from suburban Solihull out to the motorway standard  A45 highway. The main assembly hall was built on the land alongside the precious  green belt between Solihull and the neighbouring City of Coventry. Its 23-acre site was  sandwiched between the great oak trees and lake of Elmdon Park and the button  bright houses of the Damson Lane housing estate. Early plans to build a two-storey assembly hall with the production lines upstairs and  the inflow of components on the ground floor, were quickly put on one side when it  was realised just how great an impact on the locality the building would have.  With care, a long low building could be just as satisfactory to use but could be much  less obvious, Consultations with local interests were acted on and a new low outline  was designed. To reduce visuel intrusion still more, foundations were laid in the floor  of broad valley generated by cutting a 40 ft. Embankment and moving more than a  million tons of soil, redeploying it to make a line of man-made hills along the boundary  facing the houses. Trees and shrubs were later planted in natural-looking groups.  Working with the top landscape architect Professor Weddle of Sheffield University,  Leyland Cars engineers placed their 21 acres of cars parks and marshalling areas snugly  between the new hills and the factory. Noise and fumes are largely contained within  the bowl Building the Factory  Altogether, 8,900 tons of steel were used to build the steel skeleton of the two  buildings, which were to be clad in pvc-coated steel and brick. Basic support was 350  large piles from 3.5 ft to 5 ft diameter and 600 underfloor piles of 1.5 ft diameter.  They were driven an average of 40 ft into the ground.  For the foundations and floors 130,000 tons of concrete were poured. In the assembly  hall the main floor was laid by a flooring machine laying a 12.5ft. wide strip as a  continuous process. The three floors of the paintshop have a combined area of 513,000  sq ft. The mixing rooms, laboratories and offices add 43,000 sq ft, to make a total  area of 556,000 sq ft. 13 acres, while above them the aluminium roof panels have an  area of 170.000 sq ft four acres.  In the 1900 ft by 500 ft assembly hall, the basic floor area is 995,000 sq ft-. 23 acres.  Add the offices, the canteens and the link bridge between paint and assembly  buildings, and the total comes to 1,500,000 sq ft. The 125 ft main spans of the girders  are in 50 ft bays 22 ft high and have been designed so that working space beneath the  roof structure is uncluttered by service lines or girders.  There are seven miles of assembly hall roof glazing and one mile of glazed panels in  the perimeter wall cladding. Employees' car parks cover 6 acres,   and there are three miles of 30 ft wide Al-standard roads.  To handle the flood of surface water from buildings and car parks  when rains, seven miles of main drains were laid including foul  and process water discharge. The Hatchford Brook, which  originally ran across the site below the present assembly hall, was  re-routed between the two buildings in 300 yards of 5 ft.  diameter tunnel.  Considerable efforts have been expended to avoid any risk of  contamination in the brook, for it supplies an ornamental lake in  the park and then goes on to feed a trout fishery in a stately home a few miles away  downstream. All the water used in the finishing and painting processes undergoes a cleaning  sequence to remove every trace of the paint plant's electrophoretic, phosphate and  flatting operations. Oil is removed from storm water, when it is collected in two  200,000 gallon lagoons.  The plant as it is today, Land Rover and Jaguars are built. 
Project Solihull, The Rover SD1 factory    
The three main 1400 ft long production lines at the new Rover factory plant stand  ready and empty. Three years and 31 million pound have been spent for an  astonishing 12 acre, three storey painting facility and a 23 acre assembly hall to  build new Rovers efficiently and economically, to the highest standards of quality,  by a work-force in comfortable and pleasant conditions. Soon the Rover SD1 will  drive out of this factory.   The new plant was necessary because existing Rover production facilities were  already crammed full to overflowing with the successful Land-Rover and Range  Rover and with luxury car production. The formal decision to build was taken in  November 1972, and the town planning approval was awarded in February 1973.  Rovers previous factory was to small to built all the cars sold. And this new plant  was intended to put that problem right. Market research had shown that the  potential sales for the new car were far higher than anything that had emerged  before from Solihull.  In all respects it was an unprecedented project for Britain's motor industry. To  match the scale of the operation, the organisations to be involved were counted  in scores architects, consulting engineers, quantity surveyors, landscape  architects, the main contractor and his many sub-contractors, amounting to a  labour force of 350 at the peak of building work.  The business executive who glances down as he flies out of Birmingham's  Elmdon airport has the best view of the whole 100-acre site. The vast grey pvc-  coated steel clad main assembly hall (bigger than the National Exhibition  Centre's six show halls a few miles away) have been carefully shielded from the  stray glances of ground level passers-by.  When you swing off the broad blacktop of the A45 arterial road between  Birmingham and Coventry and down Damson Lane into The grounds of the new  plant, no suggestion of the industrial might behind the meticulously landscape  contours of the man-made hills intrudes until you are past the barriers of the  works entrance.  The project demanded two major buildings. The new three-storey paint shop,  planned to handle all Rover car production, was built within the boundary of the  existing factory. It presented few visual problems, but was carefully insulated to  minimise noise and fumes. Typical measure was the use of an air treatment  system which ensures that the exhaust gases are acceptable and uses heat  which would otherwise be lost from the gases exhausted from the paint drying  ovens.  The long frontage facing Elmdon Park is masked by a transitional area 60 yards  deep irregularly planted with fast-growing evergreens and shrubs, interspersed  with the majestic oaks that have stood so long.  Finally, to make certain that residents received a positive benefit from the  factory's construction, a new highway standard carriageway being driven through  to reverse much of the traffic flow away from suburban Solihull out to the  motorway standard A45 highway. The main assembly hall was built on the land  alongside the precious green belt between Solihull and the neighbouring City of  Coventry. Its 23-acre site was sandwiched between the great oak trees and lake  of Elmdon Park and the button bright houses of the Damson Lane housing  estate.  Early plans to build a two-storey assembly hall with the production lines upstairs  and the inflow of components on the ground floor, were quickly put on one side  when it was realised just how great an impact on the locality the building would  have.  With care, a long low building could be just as satisfactory to use but could be  much less obvious, Consultations with local interests were acted on and a new  low outline was designed. To reduce visuel intrusion still more, foundations were  laid in the floor of broad valley generated by cutting a 40 ft. Embankment and  moving more than a million tons of soil, redeploying it to make a line of man-  made hills along the boundary facing the houses. Trees and shrubs were later  planted in natural-looking groups.  Working with the top landscape architect Professor Weddle of Sheffield  University, Leyland Cars engineers placed their 21 acres of cars parks and  marshalling areas snugly between the new hills and the factory. Noise and fumes  are largely contained within the bowl 

Building the Factory

Altogether, 8,900 tons of steel were used to build the  steel skeleton of the two buildings, which were to be clad  in pvc-coated steel and brick. Basic support was 350  large piles from 3.5 ft to 5 ft diameter and 600 underfloor  piles of 1.5 ft diameter. They were driven an average of  40 ft into the ground.  For the foundations and floors 130,000 tons of concrete  were poured. In the assembly hall the main floor was laid  by a flooring machine laying a 12.5ft. wide strip as a  continuous process. The three floors of the paintshop  have a combined area of 513,000 sq ft. The mixing  rooms, laboratories and offices add 43,000 sq ft, to make  a total area of 556,000 sq ft. 13 acres, while above them the aluminium roof  panels have an area of 170.000 sq ft four acres.  In the 1900 ft by 500 ft assembly hall, the basic floor area is 995,000 sq ft-. 23  acres. Add the offices, the canteens and the link bridge between paint and  assembly buildings, and the total comes to 1,500,000 sq ft. The 125 ft main  spans of the girders are in 50 ft bays 22 ft high and have been designed so that  working space beneath the roof structure is uncluttered by service lines or  girders. There are seven miles of assembly hall roof glazing and one mile of glazed  panels in the perimeter wall cladding. Employees' car  parks cover 6 acres, and there are three miles of 30 ft  wide Al-standard roads.  To handle the flood of surface water from buildings and  car parks when rains, seven miles of main drains were  laid including foul and process water discharge. The  Hatchford Brook, which originally ran across the site  below the present assembly hall, was re-routed between  the two buildings in 300 yards of 5 ft. diameter tunnel.  Considerable efforts have been expended to avoid any risk of contamination in  the brook, for it supplies an ornamental lake in the park and then goes on to feed  a trout fishery in a stately home a few miles away downstream.  All the water used in the finishing and painting processes undergoes a cleaning  sequence to remove every trace of the paint plant's electrophoretic, phosphate  and flatting operations. Oil is removed from storm water, when it is collected in  two 200,000 gallon lagoons.  The plant as it is today, Land Rover and Jaguars are built. 
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