HLF £2m saves first assembly line

The world’s first assembly line – predating Henry Ford’s by 60 years – has been saved by a Heritage Lottery Grant of £1.9m.


Garrett’s Long Shop at Leiston, Suffolk, has survived almost intact since it was built in 1853 to build agricultural machinery, and early portable steam engines were built there.  It went on to pioneer the manufacture of electric-powered vehicles, Britain’s first diesel lorry and hundreds of thousand of shell casings in both world wars – First World War munitions workers at Garrett’s are pictured here. Ford’s Detroit assembly line first rolled in 1913.


Now part of the Long Shop Museum which is devoted to industrial heritage, the factory is at the heart of a restoration scheme.  “Our industries are a huge part of our heritage – from the creation of products and processes we use today to the stories and communities which grew around them” said Robyn Llewellyn, head of HLF East of England. “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to offer our support to the transformation of the Long Shop and the plans to ensure it takes its rightful place in the history books of engineering and of Suffolk life.”


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