The MG Pavlova Sign

2 Jan

One of my last tasks before I left the MG Car Club was to put in hand the restoration of the ‘Pavlova Sign’. Keen students of MG history will know that M.G. moved to Abingdon from Oxford at the end of 1929 and purchased, courtesy of Lord Nuffield’s cheque book, part of the site and buildings occupied by the Pavlova Leather Company. This was to become the home of the M.G. Car Company for some 50 years until those who apparently knew the price of everything and the value of nothing closed it down in 1980.

I had previously been instrumental in establishing the Club archive on a sounder footing than hitherto with not inconsiderable help from Pete Neal, who has since worked wonders in rescuing the archive from its previous sorry state. Pete, an ex-Factory employee and a dedicated volunteer is still beavering away with the help of a couple of helper volunteers.

It saddened me that there were few reminders of the existence of the Factory and it was almost as though 50 years of history had vanished into thin air. Yes, there is a plaque on one of the buildings which now occupy the former site of the Factory and yes, there must be memorabilia in private hands, but there is very little which serves as a tangible reminder of the existence of the Factory.

One reminder of the past was this sign, pictured below and photographed in 2000.

However, it had been steadily deteriorating in the back garden of Kimber House and by 2005 it looked like this:

What a far cry from how it used to look when it was originally affixed in the early to mid 1960s to a garage owned by the Pavlova Leather Company…

So restoration was put in hand and paid for by the ‘T’ Register.

Even then there were those who questioned whether the sign was of significant historical merit to warrant the considerable cost of restoration, but sometimes one has to be guided by one’s instincts as to what is right and to simply get on and do it!

Judging by the acclamation which greeted the erection of the refurbished sign in the garden of Kimber House (not far, actually, from where it previously lay rusting away) the decision to restore the sign was a sound one… now what did I say about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing?

John James


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3 Responses to “The MG Pavlova Sign”

  1. Robert Crewdson 07. Apr, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Thank you for rescuing and restoring this sign. I worked for a few years at the Pavlova in the early 70s, and remember seeing the MGs being built by hand and pushed along for the next operator, as they didn’t have an assembly line as at Cowley.

    I was at Cowley when we started to build MGs, of course, no one considered it a real MG, it was just a badge .

    As you rightly said, people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

  2. Amanda Davey (nee Cottrell) 07. Jul, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    My Dad worked at the MG Works as a young man and was part of the Home Guard based at the Works before his age allowed him to join REME. My Grandfather was Director of the Pavlova Leather Company until he died.

    Thank you for saving the sign.

  3. Erik Benson 20. Feb, 2019 at 11:08 am #

    A bit late to follow this up, but here’s my penny’s worth about the MG signs. I went to the final closing down sale of the factory and wandered around the place feeling terribly sad. There were many people there looking to buy at the auction. It reminded me of vultures I’m afraid. So I just removed some literature from the works notice board. . the poster for the final dinner, and some clocking-in cards. These I later gave to Harry Crutchley of the Octagon Club.
    By then the auction was in full swing.and the auctioneer was on his platform with his back to a tall wire fence. I could see behind him the large board with all the details of the sale.
    I drove my old camper van around the outside, got on the roof and untied the sign. . in full view of all the bidders !! it is about 4 feet square. I kept it for some years then donated it to the clubhouse. . with an inscription. ” souvenir of a very sad day ” Erik Benson. I expect it it is still there. Still a sad day though..
    I may add. . at our dinner table one evening before that, in Radway were Andy Barr and Joe Farnham who pronounced that , on that very afternoon they had signed the final closure of the factory.. I can’t remember what we ate.

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