THE end is in sight for a manufacturing mainstay that has provided steady employment for thousands of people around Swindon.

But workers at the Honda plant are staying positive exactly one year on from the car giant officially announcing that production there will end in summer 2021.

The 3,500 workers at the South Marston site were still reeling from the news being leaked to the press when Honda execs confirmed that the manufacturer’s UK operations would soon be coming to an end.

Their futures are still uncertain but a generous redundancy package has cushioned the blow for many of those facing unemployment.

All the workers being made redundant will receive six-and-a-half weeks’ pay for every year they have worked at the plant.

One employee from the painting division said: “Everyone is resigned to the inevitable and there’s no way back now. The day the news broke was full of panic because we saw it in the papers first and it came out of nowhere.

“But since Honda started communicating with us and we’ve been told about the negotiations, things have calmed down. I’ve worked there for four years and I’ve come to terms with the closure now.

“It’s very sad because a lot of jobs will be lost. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet and I’m not very confident that I will find a job but I’m sure there will be something.”

Another worker shared similar sentiments: “It’s set in stone and it will be sad, especially for people who have been there for much longer than I have, but I’m looking forward to the money. I’ve still got a year and a half to worry about what’s next.”

One worker from the plastics division said: “I’ve worked there for five years and the announcement was a bit of a shock.

“Since then, the company has been great to us, with a lot of support and training to help better myself.

“People are just carrying on as normal and making the best of it. I have not got a clue what I’ll do after it closes, it’s still too early to say.”

Another worker added: “The announcement was a blow but the mood has lightened since they told us about the pay package. There’s still plenty of time to find a new job.”

Other businesses in the area that rely on the regular custom of Honda workers to keep them afloat are bracing for the big impact that the closure will have on their sales.

Dom Oliveri of Dom’s Barbershop on Ermin Street has 100 clients who work at the plant and he does not know how many will still pop in for a trim once they are forced to look elsewhere for employment.

He said: “I hope that some of them will still carry on coming here after Honda closes because they are happy with the service they get, but a lot of them might leave town, which is a bit worrying.

“Some of them are just trying to find new jobs and pay off their mortgages. It’ll be quite hard for them to find work that pays as well as Honda does.

“The closure will make a huge difference to the whole town and it will certainly be a lot quieter round here, it’s a big change. There were rumours of it happening for quite a while before the announcement.

“I hope something similar will take its place because I don’t want it to become an overgrown empty site like the old park and ride. It’s sad to see things decay like that.

“If it is left empty for a while, people might start breaking in and squatting there. No-one seems to know what’s going to happen to the site.”

The closest pub to the plant is The Rat Trap, where landlord Mark Richardson is keeping his fingers crossed while trying to stay optimistic about the future.

He said: “Swindon has a fantastic history of rejuvenating itself and let’s hope that will carry on. I’d like to think the site will be snapped up pretty quickly.

“I’m not sure what to expect next year – probably a lot of leaving parties.

“The closure will affect our passing trade and have a big impact at first but Honda is giving its employees a very good redundancy package so there will still be some money coming into the local economy.

“Some of the workers have said that they’re in limbo at the moment, just hanging on and waiting for it to close. None of them want to leave early just in case they don’t get the redundancy package.

“Whatever happens to the site, whether it gets knocked down or turned into something else, hopefully some sort of industry rather than more housing we can’t cope with. That process will require a workforce so there should be some extra employment bringing people into the area.”

The Spitfire Cafe on the South Marston industrial estate saw a sharp drop in customers after workers at Honda' neighbouring companies stopped coming.

Owner Lesley Allcorn said: “We took a big hit. It’s been months since anyone from Honda came here because a lot of people at Honda offices on the estate already took the redundancy.”

Adver readers talked about the effect the closure has had on them and their families. Debbie Miles said: “My husband was made redundant in August 2019 and he was sort of looked-after and found a job within weeks – not in Swindon but he’s happy.”

Vince Sainsbury said: “Honda workers have been well looked-after but there’s no help for contractors.”