Vauxhalls War Effort
Vauxhall was founded in 1857 by Alexander Wilson as a pump and marine engine manufacturer and began manufacturing cars in 1903. In World War II, when the British Army was down to their last 100 tanks, it turned to Vauxhall Motors in Luton, and even though it made the town a target for the Luftwaffe they rose to the challenge.
Vauxhall Motors suspended car production and dedicated their production line to the Churchill Tank. Work started in July 1940 but after the retreat from Dunkirk, the British Army only had 100 tanks left, and Vauxhall was ordered to build them as quickly as possible.
Churchill asked for the new tank to be ready for production the following March (1941) and 500 were ordered straight away. The first prototypes were completed by December and the first 14 production tanks delivered at the end of June. They might have missed the target date but this will still go down as a tremendous engineering effort.
Once assembled, the tanks were tested in the grounds of Luton Hoo stately home, and its namesake, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill even paid a visit to inspect them himself.
Over 5,000 Churchill tanks were built in total. They saw action in France, Italy, North Africa, and even in Russia with the Red Army.
The factory in Luton also turned out a quarter of a million trucks during the course of the war, and led Britain’s development of the jet engine. Fake inflatable vehicles were also made there, which were used to fool German pilots into wasting their ammunition.