THE sale of the site where Honda has manufactured cars in Swindon for decades marks a new chapter in the town's history - but how did we get to this point?

Here's a quick refresher on the eventful two years since the automotive giant first announced it would be leaving the town.

On February 19 2019, Honda first announced its decision to close the South Marston plant in 2021, putting 3,500 jobs at risk.

The international car manufacturer revealed it made the decision due to a restructure of its global manufacturing network which focused on production of electrified cars and stressed that Brexit was not a factor.

Katsushi Inoue, chief officer for European regional operations at Honda Motor Co Ltd and president of Honda Motor Europe, said at the time: “In light of the unprecedented changes that are affecting our industry, it is vital that we accelerate our electrification strategy and restructure our global operations accordingly.”

The news was leaked to Sky News the day before. That report was the first time the plant’s workers heard about their jobs being in jeopardy.

In September 2018, Honda executive Ian Howells told BBC Radio 5 Live that production would continue at the Swindon plant, so the news of its impending closure a few months later came as a huge shock.

Repeated attempts by politicians, business leaders and unions to convince the Japanese giant to stay - and even the organising of a major march with thousands of people marching through Swindon - could not change its mind.

The closure of the Honda plant is expected to have a knock-on effect on the supply chain which includes an estimated 12,000 employees.

A support committee set up by Swindon Borough Council worked with around 100 partners in different groups to help the employees affected at the plant and the many companies involved in Honda’s supply chain who will soon lose a major customer.

In October 2019, Honda Logistics announced it will cut hundreds of jobs after the neighbouring manufacturer leaves because its business would no longer be viable.

When the coronavirus came to the UK in March 2020, the South Marston factory halted production until April 6. Covid-19 cases were confirmed at the site in July.

Congestion at the UK's ports prompted another pause at the plant in December 2020, and a shortage of parts caused two brief shutdowns last January.

Some workers called for a shutdown while UK case numbers surged during that month, and accused the manufacturer of putting 'cars before lives', though Honda insisted the site was Covid-secure.

On March 26 2021, Honda revealed that the site of its Swindon factory had been sold to Panattoni, which was planning over £700 million of investment once the company legally becomes the 370 acres of land's new owner in 2022.