Archive for the Birmingham Category

Review of Leyland Rover “A fascinating read about an era that is long gone”

Posted in Birmingham, British Leyland, Far East, Jaguar, Rover, Triumph, Meteor Works, Solihull on 16/06/2018 by Kenneth C. Ryeland

During the 1970s the author worked for British Leyland as an overseas service engineer covering South East Asia. In terms of geography, his South East Asian territory covered a wide area ranging from Afghanistan in the west to Japan in the East. In terms of products, these ranged from Austin, Morris and MG cars, through Triumph, Rover and Jaguar cars to Land-Rover and Range Rover.

British Leyland, in its various guises, incorporated much of the British-owned motor vehicle industry with about 40 per cent of the domestic car market. It was also Britain’s largest exporter. Its overseas operations were largely conducted through a network of distributors, each with their own branches across the country in question. Vehicles were either shipped completely built or partially built for local assembly. The company’s history of mergers and acquisitions meant that some markets had multiple distributors.

Throughout the 1970s, Britain was plagued by industrial turmoil, frequently bringing manufacturing capability to its knees. This is nowhere better demonstrated than in the British Leyland car plants in the UK. The British Leyland story is one of lack of investment, weak management, disastrous labour relations, mediocre product design, poor build quality, product shortages, erosion of market share and above all, missed opportunities.

Kenneth Ryeland paints a vivid picture of the work of an overseas service engineer and in doing so reveals the complex operations of a British export manufacturer in a wide variety of countries and cultures. His role was essentially that of international troubleshooter, more often than not acting as the sole representative of the manufacturer. As well as auditing and reporting upon the performance of the distributor, he sought to establish good relations with key distributor management, to praise high performing distributors, help and cajole others to improve in various ways and provide reassurance and advice to customers.

A natural storyteller, Kenneth C. Ryeland’s latest book is a fascinating read and contains many anecdotes from his extensive travels. It should have a broad range of appeal. The book is essentially chronological and most of the countries are given their own chapter. It is an excellent contribution to the history of the British automotive industry of the era – an era that is now long gone.

***** (five stars)

Dr Peter McCree


Review of Leyland Rover “A fine book”

Posted in Birmingham, British Leyland, Far East, Jaguar, Rover, Triumph, Meteor Works, Reviews, Solihull on 10/06/2018 by Kenneth C. Ryeland

COVERV1Leyland Rover is a fine book describing the trials and tribulations interspersed with descriptions of friendship and success of a now largely forgotten time when this country was a major manufacturer with many overseas markets for its goods.

Kenneth C Ryeland was a product of the days when young men with a talent for engineering could progress from school to an apprenticeship; attend Technical College, get that hard to obtain ONC and HNC in Electrical or Mechanical Engineering and then step out into the world of work.

Ken worked for Rover and subsequently Leyland and in this book, he describes his experiences as a young married man, leaving a wife and three children at home whilst he visited Rover’s Far East markets, countries such as India, Thailand, Malaysia etc.

His job? To ensure that the Dealers and Distributors of Leyland cars and Land Rovers provided top class after sales service to their customers.

Along the way, Ken had to contend with not only the language difficulties but also the huge cultural and work ethic disparities compared to the UK. Ken was obviously a dedicated and committed employee and throughout his career he gave of his very best to the company and ensured that Leyland managed to hold on to markets where the lack of availability of its products, extended production times and the lack of build quality against a background of industrial strife, made his job all but impossible.

A lovely easy to read book of a time when despite our decreasing influence in the world, we still made vehicles which engendered a loyalty, which the management and decision makers at home sadly ignored.

***** (Five Stars)

Gordon Stringer.

My book is now available on Amazon and Smashwords!

Posted in Apprenticeship, Birmingham, British Railways, Training with tags , , , , , , on 25/03/2016 by Kenneth C. Ryeland

apprenticecover4amTime Well Spent is the prequel to The Up-Country Man and a personal account of Ken Ryeland’s training as a motor fitter in Birmingham, where he served his apprenticeship with British Railways (London Midland Region) from 1957 to 1963. (Presented in both e-book format and paperback)

Birmingham, the veritable “Workshop of the World”, could offer a limitless variety of industrial and clerical jobs during the 1950s. Work was so plentiful in those days that it was possible to resign from one company in the morning and start work at another by lunch time on the same day. Many skilled men took advantage of this happy situation by changing jobs if they could secure an extra few pennies an hour over their current rate. Any young man wanting a job could find one easily, so when Ken Ryeland was about to leave school at the age of fifteen to venture into the world of work for the first time, he had plenty of scope. However, rather than allow his son to settle for any old job, Ken’s father was determined to guide him into something worthwhile. Young Ryeland was told by his father that he could aim for any job he liked, provided he agreed to serve a proper apprenticeship. Little did Ken realise at the time how much of an influence this wise fatherly advice would have on his future life.
Cover Photo: Bill Aldridge Collection. A fitter and his apprentice (identities unknown) removing the engine from a British Railways'(London Midland Region)Scammell Scarab, circa 1957.