Vauxhall Viva HA, Ellesmere Port

On 1 June 1964 the first Vauxhall rolled off the production line at the all-new Ellesmere Port manufacturing plant in Cheshire. On 5 June 2014 we celebrated 50 years of production at Ellesmere Port by recreating the 1964 scene – using the original press image of the first vehicle coming off the line and the same production location, with today’s Astra alongside.


The first new car to be produced at Ellesmere Port was a Vauxhall Viva HA, a model that had a number of variations until 1978, when it was replaced by the Chevette. The Viva cost £527 7s 11d at launch.


The first Astra – our first front-wheel drive car – was built on 16 November 1981. The Vauxhall Astra has since become our best seller and continues in production to this day.


Ellesmere Port was built on the site of RAF Hooton with construction starting in 1962. It should have been called ‘Vauxhall Hooton Park’ but this was changed shortly before production began as it was deemed to be too close phonetically to ‘Luton’. The factory came to west Cheshire as a result of a government strategy to develop production plants with the ‘big five’ motor manufacturers in new industrial development areas across the country. Vauxhall, Ford and Standard Triumph chose the Liverpool/Wirral/Merseyside region. The Board of Trade offered financial inducements, including 40% towards plant and machinery costs and 25% towards construction.


Ellesmere Port has weathered a number of motor industry storms over the years and was recently threatened with closure. The determination of the strong workforce working closely with the management team and UNITE The Union has ensured the plant’s survival into the next decade with the allocation of the next generation Astra. Production of the new model will start in autumn 2015 with Ellesmere Port being the lead plant of only two producing this model across Europe.