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Queen to open £500m JLR plant near Wolverhampton

Staffordshire | News | Published:

The Queen will officially open Wolverhampton's new £500 million Jaguar Land Rover engine factory next week.

Her Majesty will be accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh for the visit to the i54 business park.

It is the crowning glory for the West Midlands after the region secured the engine plant against fierce competition both at home and from abroad.

The Queen will also officially open the new home of a stamp printing business at the park when the royal visit takes place next Thursday.

She will inspect vehicles, and spend time with school children who have been working on educational engineering design projects.

The JLR plant at i54

Delighted managers were today telling staff of the good news, while a local MP branded it "fantastic and important".

After cutting the ribbon at the JLR Engine Manufacturing Centre, the Queen and the Duke will attend a lunch at the plant.

It will be Her Royal Highness' first visit to the area since her Diamond Jubilee two years ago, when 30,000 people flocked to RAF Cosford.

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JLR has long and strong links with the monarchy as both Jaguar and Land Rover have held Royal Warrants since 1951. Both the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are known to favour JLR's Range Rovers and Defenders, and she was pictured behind the wheel of one only last year. Her Majesty has been a keen motorist since her time as a driver and mechanic in the Women's Auxillary Territorial Service during the Second World War. But, now 88, she tends to restrict her time behind the wheel to visits to her private estates.

The Queen will visit the impressive site on October 30

JLR's connections with the Royal Family were underlined last month when it sponsored the Invictus Games, the sports event for sick and injured service personnel championed by Prince Harry.

The company first announced it would be building its engine plant at the i54, right on the border of Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire along Stafford Road, in 2011 and work began on the site the following year.

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Gavin Williamson, Conservative MP for South Staffordshire, said: "It is fantastic that such an important investment as the JLR site is to be opened by Her Majesty The Queen.

"It shows how vital this is not just to South Staffordshire, Wolverhampton and the wider West Midlands but to the country as well.

Gavin Williamson

"This represents high quality British manufacturing, exported all over the world, following half a billion pounds worth of investment and hundreds of new jobs."

JLR was tempted to the i54 site by a concerted charm offensive mounted by Wolverhampton, Staffordshire and South Staffordshire Councils, supported by the UK Government.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, during a recent visit to the Black Country, said he considered bringing the company to Wolverhampton was one of the biggest single achievements of his five-year term in office.

The 775,000 sq ft factory, the size of eight football pitches, will eventually provide work for 1,600 people.

A hall for the manufacture of engine components and an assembly hall to put together new Ingenium diesel engines are complete and gearing up for full-scale production early next year, tied in to production of the new Jaguar XE saloon. Meanwhile, work on a 250,000 sq ft petrol engine assembly hall is also under way.

After opening the JLR plant, the Queen will be opening the nearby new factory of stamp printers ISP.

International Security Printers has just completed work on its distinctive new facility on Valiant Way, which will be its new home as it moves from its premises in Midland Road, Walsall.

The 80 staff at the firm, which printed the royal wedding stamps for Prince William and Kate Middleton, will be transferring over the coming months.

The company, also known as Walsall Security Printers, started printing stamps for the Pacific kingdom of Tonga in 1963 and was appointed a supplier to the British Post Office in 1987.

It has produced postage stamps for 180 different countries and more than 60 per cent of its production goes overseas.

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