VAUXHALL Motors staff past and present gathered to celebrate 50 years since the first car rolled of the Ellesmere Port plant’s production line.

In 1964 a white Vauxhall Viva came off the line following the building of the all-new factory on the site of RAF Hooton.

The historic moment was re-enacted at 11.30am on Thursday with the same signage and a white Vauxhall Viva alongside a new white Vauxhall Astra, the production car of 2014.

From June 1, 1964 to date, Ellesmere Port has built nearly five million vehicles.

Among those returning to the plant was Keith Tabiner, 74, from Eastham. He started work at the firm in 1963, retiring in 2003.

On his return to the plant, Keith told the Globe: "It was awe-inspiring. I looked back at the conveyor and it has changed. It used to be the towing plant.

"I realised there was a lot more space than there was when I was there.

"I didn't really get a chance to see much more during the visit, but things have changed."

Keith served his apprenticeship at a garage in Rock Ferry and his first job was as a paint sprayer in Claughton in 1960.

He said: "I applied for a job at Vauxhall in 1960, because I'd heard they were coming to Wirral.

"I was told there were plans to do so, but nothing else.”

Vauxhall took ownership of the Ellesmere Port site on July 25, 1961.

Keith recalled: "When the plant opened a couple of years later I had an interview.

"The letter arrived while I was on honeymoon and my mother was really excited when I got home."

Having won the fight to keep the plant open, Ellesmere Port is getting ready for the next Astra which will go into production in 2015.

The first Astra was built in November 1981.

Keith, whose three sons work at the plant, ended: “The future is bright for Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port. The quality of the cars it produced is great.”