A group of former MG Rover workers signed the steel of the new Bournville College’s campus at Longbridge yesterday.
Seven people whose past is linked to the famous car plant, attended the event where they left a permanent mark on the steel that will soon become the new Bournville College. Signatures of Taz Hussain, Geoff Brunt, Paul Maguire, Vikki Klette, James Coughlan, Dennis Hartland and Rob Meese will remain forever hidden behind the plaster but when main contractor Shepherd Construction completes the campus in the summer 2011, there will be a plaque on the wall to mark the occasion.
Each person signing the steel has a story to tell. James Coughlan (40) from Longbridge joined MG-Rover at the age of 18 and worked at the plant until its collapse. He said: ‘MG-Rover was all I knew’. After losing his job, James realised that he needed some help with re-training and finding a new career path. In 2006, he joined Access to Health course at Bournville College, which started his career as a nurse. Five years on, he is working within a team of nurses that are involved in organ transplantations at QE – University Hospital Birmingham. James reflected: ‘Today’s event is very special to me. It does not only help me commemorate the history of Longbridge but also appreciate what Bournville College has done for me. With the help from Bournville College’s staff I was able to attend University and fulfil my dream of becoming a nurse. It was a real ‘second chance’ for me.’
Dennis Hartland, aged 83, who worked for MG Rover for 30 years until his retirement in 1990, remembers better days of MG Rover. He said: ‘I spent most of my working life at MG Rover and the news about its collapse was heart-breaking. However, I am pleased to see that the site where the plant used to be is being rejuvenated for a new project that will serve the local community in the years to come.’
Norman Cave, Principal of Bournville College who also attended the event, commented: ‘We are pleased to have invited ex-MG Rover workers to share this unique moment with us, commemorate the rich history of Longbridge and celebrate its regeneration.’
The new campus is being delivered by Shepherd Construction on behalf of regeneration specialist St Modwen, and working in partnership with Advantage West Midlands, Birmingham City Council and the Environment Agency.
Richard Fielding, construction director for Shepherd Construction commented: “It is great to have a legacy like this built into the new campus as a symbol of how important the former car plant once was to the area. We look forward to delivering a building that will mark a new era for the site.”
Mark Batchelor, construction manager for St. Modwen, said: “The construction of the new Bournville College is a key element in the £1 billion regeneration of Longbridge. This landmark project will secure a prosperous future for the area, while helping to restore confidence and pride in Longbridge.”
Bournville College’s new £66 million campus is a stepping stone towards £1billion redevelopment of Longbridge. The new campus will be completed next summer, ready for the 2011/12 academic year. It will offer state-of-the-art learning facilities, have capacity for 15,000 students, introduce new curriculum area of motor vehicle maintenance and provide leisure and sports facilities for the local residents. It will remain the leading education and training provider for South West Birmingham and beyond. Visit www.bournville.ac.uk to find out more.