A TRACTOR factory employing hundreds of south Essex workers is celebrating 50 years of production.

New Holland, based in Cranes Farm Road, Basildon, was set up as Ford Tractors in March 1964 and its first tractors rolled off the production line only a few days after.

Since then it has produced three million engines and 1.6 million tractors.

Although the site no longer produces engines, its tractors are as popular as ever and are shipped across the globe.

Bosses are celebrating their landmark by inviting past employees to visit the factory and see how it has progressed while meeting current workers.

The factory, which had a visit from Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg in 2012, was also credited with producing a “Papal tractor” for Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.

Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council said: “It’s excellent we have a business like New Holland in Basildon. It’s gone from strength to strength through difficult economic times. In fact they have taken on more staff over the last few years.

“Not only that, but they engage with the local community and council.

“Basildon should be proud to have New Holland in the ý Visitors – David Cameron and Nick Clegg town.”