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Dunton Technical Centre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dunton Technical Centre
Ford Dunton
Ford's Dunton Technical Centre - - 218069.jpg
View from the front
Location within Essex
Former namesFord Research & Engineering Centre
General information
TypeAutomobile Research Centre
AddressDunton, Laindon, Essex, SS15 6EE
Coordinates51°34′52″N 0°24′18″E / 51.581°N 0.405°E / 51.581; 0.405
Elevation45 m (148 ft)
Current tenantsFord design team
Completed1 January 1967
Inaugurated12 October 1967[1]
Cost£10.5 million.[1]
ClientFord of Britain
LandlordFord of Europe
Other dimensions268 acres (108.4 ha)
Technical details
Floor count4
Design and construction
Services engineerG.N. Haden & Sons
Main contractorGeorge Wimpey

The Dunton Campus (informally Ford Dunton or Dunton) is a major automotive research and development facility located in Dunton Wayletts, Laindon, Essex, United Kingdom owned and operated by Ford Motor Company. It was the largest automotive technical centre in the United Kingdom and takes its name from the nearby Dunton Wayletts.[1] Ford Dunton houses the main design team of Ford of Europe alongside its Merkenich Technical Centre in Cologne, Germany. With the closure of Ford's Warley site (located in Brentwood, Essex) in September 2019, the staff from the UK division of Ford Motor Credit Company and Ford's UK Sales and Marketing departments, have moved to the Dunton site. As of November 2019, Dunton had around 4000 staff working at the site.


The entrance to Ford Dunton.
The entrance to Ford Dunton.

Ford Dunton is situated at the junction of West Mayne (B148) and the A127 Southend Arterial Road, in Dunton Wayletts in the district of Basildon. An electricity pylon line straddles the site. In front of the building, to the north, is a vehicle test track. To the south is the Southfields Business Park. The site lies in the religious parish of Laindon with Dunton, formerly in Dunton and Bulphan before 1976. Dunton is a small hamlet to the west, with a former church near Dunton Hall. There is a Ford dealership on the B148 on the north-west corner of the site.

In order to promote health and well-being at the site, there are walking routes and outdoor natural areas preserved on the site. There is a picnic area and a pond surrounded by a copse of mixed deciduous trees. The pond is home to many large fish and you can see the protected snail species Helix pomatia.



Ford Dunton was constructed by George Wimpey for a contracted price of £6.5 million. The total cost of the centre was around £10 million. The centre originally had 45,000 sq ft (4,200 m2) of space for design work, making it the largest engineering research centre in Europe. Another development site at Aveley had been opened in 1956 which made prototype cars and spare parts, and closed in 2004.[2] Ford's earlier UK design site was at Dagenham (5 start building) and it previously had seven engineering sites around the UK, with five in Essex; these all moved to Dunton.

Ford Dunton was opened by Harold Wilson, then the British Prime Minister, on 12 October 1967.[3]

1967 to 2000

At the time of its opening, Dunton was assigned responsibility within Ford of Europe for vehicle design, interior styling, chassis and body interior engineering, engine calibration and product planning. Ford's Merkenich Centre in Cologne, Germany was given principal responsibility for body and electrical engineering, base engine design, advanced engine development, exterior styling, homologation, vehicle development (ride, handling, NVH) and transmission engineering. This was a 'systems' approach to the engineering process intended to eliminate the duplication of engineering responsibility within Ford of Europe.

In the late 1960s Dunton worked on an experimental electric car, first shown on 7 June 1967, and called the Ford Comuta.[4]

On 10 May 1971 Peter Walker opened a £1 million engine emissions laboratory at Dunton, the largest of its type in Europe. In November 1974 the world's first automated (computerised) multiple engine (six) test bed was constructed at Dunton, built in co-operation with the engineering department of Queen Mary, University of London. In 1974 a Honeywell 6050 computer was installed at Dunton at a cost of £820,000. The computer was linked to Merkenich and to the Ford test track at Lommel in Belgium. From 1978 Dunton had access to a CDC Cyber 176 computer at the USA base in Dearborn.

By 1984 staff at Dunton were conducting video-conferences with colleagues at Merkenich, using the ECS-1 satellite, and enabled by British Telecom International. In 1988 Dunton prepared the way for design of the Mondeo (codename CDW27) by pioneering, in collaboration with Merkenich, the World Engineering Release System (WERS). Dunton at this time was the most advanced automotive development centre in Europe.

In 1995 Dunton, in collaboration with the University of Southampton, developed a device which is capable of detecting different types of plastic (for recycling) using the triboelectric effect, including polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

On 16 December 1997 Alexander Trotman, Baron Trotman opened a £128 million environmental engine testing facility at Dunton.[5]

2000 to present

In 2003 a Silicon Graphics International (SGI) Reality Centre was constructed at Dunton, incorporating SGI Onyx 3000 visualisation supercomputers, using the InfiniteReality3 graphics rendering system.

In March 2010 Ford announced plans to develop a new generation of environmentally friendly engines and vehicle technologies at Dunton following an announcement by the UK Government that it would underwrite £360 million of a £450 million loan to Ford from the European Investment Bank.[6] In July 2010 the new coalition government confirmed that it would honour the loan commitment, and the contract was signed in a ceremony at Dunton attended by the business minister Mark Prisk on 12 July.[7]

In recent years Dunton has been responsible for the development of the ECOnetic range of vehicles, and has contributed to development of the EcoBoost range of engines.


Dunton houses the main design team of Ford of Europe, alongside its Merkenich Technical Centre in Cologne. Currently Dunton has responsibility for the design of the Ford Fiesta, the Ford Ka, engines for Ford of Europe (powertrain), commercial vehicles and the interior of Ford of Europe cars. It has facilities to simultaneously test fifteen cars and around one hundred engines. Around 3,000 engineers currently work at Dunton.

Ford Dunton is also the home of Ford Team RS, and as part of the Special Vehicle Engineering section of Ford created by Rod Mansfield, developed the XR family of 'hot hatch' vehicles with the Ford Fiesta RS Turbo, more recently becoming the RS family of vehicles. Ford also notably worked in this area of design with Cosworth of Northampton.

Notable staff

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Back to the future for Ford". The Engineer. 26 October 2007. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  2. ^ Aveley site closes in 2004
  3. ^ "Ford Dunton turns 40". Daily Gazette. 13 October 2007. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  4. ^ "Battery-car progress – at 8-mile an hour in 25 years". New Scientist. 9 December 1971. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  5. ^ "Motorists face fines for dirty fumes". BBC News. 16 December 1997. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  6. ^ "Jobs safeguarded at Ford in Essex". Essex County Standard. 18 March 2010. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Coalition to honour £360m loan to Ford Dunton". Basildon Recorder. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 7 June 2011.

External links

Video clips

News items

This page was last edited on 17 August 2020, at 10:09
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