They may not be cars, but these wild horses did prefer Ford. Roaming free across the Thames river from Ford’s Dagenham plant, these horses apparently ran free in London in the early ’70s.
“They are a big nuisance to us,” said an employee of the nearby sewage plant. “But these horses carry wire cutters.”
— BBC Archive (@BBCArchive) March 4, 2020
It’s kind of amusing to think of a herd of horses as a nuisance, but according to the report, they occasionally caused traffic chaos, so not entirely unlike Ford’s Mustang.
This story isn’t totally unrelated to Ford, either. Because the report happens to have been made during a strike at the Ford plant, to which you may have caught the reference in the story.
The ’60s were a busy time for the European car industry and the Dagenham plant was a particularly important plant, socially. The plant played an important part in UK history because of the 1968 sewing machinists strike.
The strike lasted three weeks in the summer of 1968 and was specifically a fight over how the sewing machinists were classified and paid. Ford refused to consider the employees in the sewing shop as anything more than unskilled, effectively capping their pay.
The fight was more widely about equal pay for women, though, since the employees in the shop were all women. When all 187 of them struck, seats could no longer be made for the wildly popular Cortina, and production was eventually halted.
The strike is particularly important in the UK because it’s considered a trigger for the UK’s Equal Pay Act of 1970, which sought to prevent pay discrimination against women.
Later, the plant was among the big players in the great strikes of 1969 and 1971 (mentioned above), which led to months long strike actions by tens of thousands of employees. These strikes took place during a period of great conflict between the trade unions and the conservative government.
The plant eventually hasn’t made cars since 2002, when Ford decided not to retool for the new (at the time) Fiesta. Its engine plant still produces nearly a million diesel engines per year.