The Pressed Steel Company Limited (PSC) was a British car body manufacturing company founded at Cowley near Oxford in 1926 as a joint venture between William Morris, the Budd Corporation and an American bank. Today at what was the company's Swindon plant, the BMW subsidiary Swindon Pressings Limited has been established.
Morris had seen the potential of pressed steel car bodies being developed at Budd in the U.S. The new venture started up by supplying car bodies to Morris Morris Motor Company (MMC), with its plant being located alongside that of MMC. By 1935 Budd had withdrawn and the company was fully independent, and also producing car bodies for competitors of MMC. By the late 1950s the company was making bodies for most of the major car companies in the UK including Rolls-Royce, Rootes, and Standard-Triumph. In 1956 PSC opened a new plant in Swindon to provide extra capacity, and in 1961 they opened their Linwood, Scotland plant alongside the new Rootes Linwood plant to provide bodies for the new Hillman Imp being produced there.
The company also produced panels for Volvo and complete bodies for Rover and Ford.
Pressed Steel was a major manufacturer of press tooling for Morris, Hillman, Rover and Roll Royce and car companies across the world including Vauxhall, Alfa Romeo etc.
Under the Prestcold name Pressed Steel was leader in quality refrigerators for the home, industrial cold rooms and marine installations. The Domestic Refrigeration Factory (DRF) was located within the Cowely site for many years before transferring to Swansea in a government sponsored regeneration scheme with an ill fated venture with Rolls washing machines. So ended the Prestcold domestic appliances. The industrial side was to continue for many years operating out of the Theale site nr. Reading.
For a short time the Pressed Steel was involved with light aircraft through its Beagle Aircraft division.
The R&D function which was set up at the Cowley site in the early 1960s, and later transferred to the company's development site at Gaydon, was a centre of excellence for the industry with many new processes including the development of electrophoretic painting (electrocoat), full mould casting, robotic welding and assembly, robotic adhesive and sealant application and robotic painting amongst many other firsts in the industry.
In 1965 Pressed Steel was acquired by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and the company set about combining the company with its existing body making subsidiary Fisher and Ludlow, acquired by BMC some twelve years earlier, thereby creating Pressed Steel-Fisher (PS-F). Later, in December 1966, PS-F came together with Jaguar Cars and the British Motor Corporation (BMC) to form British Motor Holdings (BMH). In 1968 BMH merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC). By this time PS-F had become the world's largest independent car body and car body tool manufacturer, and supplied bodies and tools not only for the British motor industry but also for Volvo, Alfa Romeo and Hindustan Motors.
Under BLMC the Pressed Steel-Fisher business became the Pressed Steel Fisher division.
When BMW acquired Rover Group in 1994 they became owners of the former PSC's Swindon pressing plant. Although BMW disposed of much of Rover Group's assets in 2000, they retained the Swindon pressings plant and set up a subsidiary, Swindon Pressings Limited (SPL), there in 2000. SPL now provides most of the body panels and body sub-assemblies for the MINI models produced by BMW's MINI subsidiary in Cowley, at what was the Pressed steel site.
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