THE FORGOTTEN tales of a town’s connection to an iconic car plant have been collected and turned into a new book.

Local historian Bob Frampton spent more than a year speaking with former workers at Abingdon’s MG factory capturing everything from war time experiences to the recollections of those who had barely begun their careers when the manufacturer closed.

The car giant, which is ingrained in the town’s heritage, opened in 1929 and remained in the town until its closure in 1980.

It produced award-winning MG cars and employed 1,400 people at its height, but was closed by British Leyland following a lack of interest from the American market.

Explaining his desire to tackle the topic, Peachcroft resident Mr Frampton said: “Other books about MG have focused on the famous people involved and the international competitions but I wanted to speak with those who actually made the cars and ensured its success.

“I spoke to about 30 or 40 people from Abingdon and Radley in the end and the thing that comes across the most is how proud everyone is of what they produced.”

Stories in Mr Frampton’s book, which is called ‘Echoes from the Shopfloor’, include an irate donkey causing havoc, love among staff, and a wartime fire that has left a collection of 1940s MG cars buried beneath an Abingdon street.

The 71-year-old said: “A lot of the memories have been quite funny. There was a chap from the fire brigade office who tried to dry his socks out with an electric dryer and started a fire.

“The town’s fire brigade actually ended up getting there before the one’s from the MG office.

He added: “The only thing I regret is there aren’t more stories from the war years and earlier, but that is down to there being less people still around from back then.”

Mr Frampton returned to his history roots after retiring from teaching law and business at Abingdon College, a 23-year career which he left in 2004.

It has been a labour of love for Mr Frampton, who studied a degree in history when he was younger and now volunteers at Abingdon County Hall Museum in Market Place, which has a room dedicated to MG complete with a car model which was air-lifted in.

His published history books about the town include Abingdon in the Great War, The Abingdon Races, Abingdon and the Boer War, and recently-published The Cinemas of Abingdon.

He is hoping the appeal of his latest work will spread beyond the town, saying: “There’s a lot of interest in MG from American collectors and this offers something new to the history of the car plant.

“The interest is most intense locally though. I keep getting stopped by people in the street asking me when it is coming out because they know I’ve been asking for memories for so long.

“I started the whole thing almost two years ago now and I am looking forward to seeing what people think of it, especially those who shared their stories with me.”

The book is now available from the County Hall Museum as well as via online booksellers.

A new MG exhibition will also begin at the museum next month, featuring donations from lead designer Don Hayter. This will be on display April 14 -June 24.