The Ford site in Southampton opened in the fifties - and has been making Transits since the seventies.
Phil Hornby reports now on the end of an era after the announcement it is to close
Southampton's Ford Factory IS closing and five hundred workers will lose their jobs when the last transit van rolls off the production line next year.
The official announcement was made to staff at midday. It's a massive blow for Southampton that has fought hard to keep production of Ford Transit vans in the City.
Around two point two million Transits have been made at the Plant since 1972. But production has been scaled down over the past four years. 66 thousand vans were made there in 2008 - compared to 28 thousand last year.
However staff were told they would be offered work at other Ford factories if they were willing to move.
Unite has accused Ford of betraying its workforce in Southampton and Dagenham and has vowed to fight the closures announced today.
Ford has announced the end of production of the renowned transit van at its plant in Southampton by 2013 and the closure of its stamping and tooling facility in Dagenham with a total loss of around1500 jobs and more in the supply chain.
– Unite general secretary Len McCluskey
"Ford has betrayed its workforce and its loyal customer base. Unite is going to fight these closures. This announcement has been handled disgracefully.
"Only a few months ago Ford was promising staff a new transit model for Southampton in 2014.
"The Transit has been the best-selling van in the UK for over a quarter of a century. It has a future in the UK if this government is prepared to fight for real jobs and persuade Ford to keep manufacturing vehicles in the UK. "
There will be a mass meeting of workers from Southampton on Monday 29 October.
Car giant Ford has been attacked by unions after announcing plans to close its Transit van factory in Southampton and stamping and tooling site in Dagenham with the total loss of around 1,400 jobs.
The grim news was given to union chiefs and workers at meetings with the company.
It was described as "devastating" by officials, and workers at Southampton were sent home for the day.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey accused Ford of betraying its workforce and said the announcement had been handled "disgracefully".
He added: "Only a few months ago Ford was promising staff a new Transit model for Southampton in 2014. The planned closures will really hurt the local economies and the supply chain will be badly hit - up to 10,000 jobs could be at risk."
Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union, said: "This is devastating news for the workers in Southampton and Dagenham and is very bad news for UK manufacturing.
"Ford's track record in Britain is one of broken promises and factory closures. There will be a feeling of shock and anger, and Ford's commitment on investment will cut little ice."
Ford said its UK operations will remain a centre of excellence for powertrain development and production, including plans to add a new generation two-litre diesel engine in Dagenham to power Ford vehicles from 2016.
Ford will continue to develop its UK operations as a centre of excellence for powertrain development and production. A new, next-generation, low-CO2 2.0-litre diesel engine is to be built in Dagenham that will power future Ford vehicles from 2016.
As part of the restructuring of its European operations, Ford plans to close two facilities in the UK in mid-2013 – its vehicle assembly plant in Southampton, which builds the current Transit, and its operations in Dagenham, which supplies the Southampton assembly plant and other plants.
The new engine will be designed and engineered at the Dunton technical Centre in Essex.
All UK separations are to be voluntary: affected employees in Southampton and Dagenham will be redeployed or offered separation terms.
Ford is to close its Southampton plant on July 26th, 2013, workers are telling our reporter on the scene this lunchtime.
They say they've been told there will be "no compulsory redundancies" and have been promised "generous voluntary redundancy, and relocation packages".
The prospect of Ford's closure in Southampton has now been raised in the House of Commons, in an exchange between Caroline Nokes MP, Con MP for Romsey and Southampton North, and Andrew Lansely MP, Leader of the Commons.
Ford workers in Southampton were interviewed by ITV cameras early this morning and already feared the worst for themselves, and future generations in the city.
Ford is to close its Transit van factory and another UK site with the loss of up to 1,500 jobs, sources said.
The grim news was given to union officials at a meeting with the company and was described as "devastating" by one official.
The Transit van plant in Southampton will close next summer, with the loss of more than 500 jobs, while a site in Dagenham, Essex, will shut at the same time.
Union officials said up to 1,500 jobs will be affected by the news, although some new posts will be created at the Dagenham engine plant which will build Ford's new Panther engine.