I was recently involved in delivering some training for the Retooled project, working a group of ex-Rover MG employees who were made redundant when the company went bust 5 years ago and to create a resource for those facing or going through redundancy.
The two, day-long workshops were pretty amazing and I got to hear some eye-opening stories. During the afternoon of the first workshop, myself and Retooled team member John Barnett had a little look at some online material about Longbridge that?s out there, which he put into context for me in some recorded conversations. It was during one of these conversations that John, who looked after the car plant’s IT network, told me about the rats that chewed through the cabling and the army of feral cats that fed off them:
The biggest problem was rats, actually. There was actually a budget line of £10,000 per year which was called the Rat Fund, which was there for repairing cables that had been gnawed through by rats. Mainly due, bizarrely, because BMW had got rid of all the Factory Cats and the Factory Cats used to keep the rats down. But BMW didn’t like the cats. They used to look more like miniature lions than cats, and they ate all the rats. But after they got rid of the cats the rat population increased amazingly and all the fibre cables got chewed through on a regular basis.
Although the small army of ferocious, feral Factory Cats were tolerated by Rover ‘because they were really useful’, BMW in their wisdom decided to dispose of them because ‘they looked untidy and they didn’t want them there’.
If you listen to my interview with John (below) you can hear me get slightly stuck on this topic, which he mentions almost in passing. And I’ve not really stopped thinking about it since. How did BMW dispose of the cats exactly? Was it done humanely? Does anyone have any pictures of them? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE POOR FACTORY CATS?