Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 150,668 pages of information and 235,204 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


From Graces Guide
June 1909. Austin Petrol Tank.
1919. Austin Automatic Electric Installations sold by E. O. Walker and Co.
January 1920.
May 1930.
June 1933.
December 1934.
October 1937.
January 1944.
February 1944.
April 1944.
April 1944.
May 1944.
June 1944.
October 5 1946.
March 1947.
October 1953.


February 1954.
April 1954.
June 1954.
October 1954.
February 1955.
Oct 1956.
Oct 1960.
Oct 1962.
Oct 1966.
Austin 'tool or pay check' issued to shop floor workers.

The Austin Motor Company of Longbridge Works, Birmingham was a British manufacturer of cars and lorries from 1905.



Foundation of the Company

1905 Herbert Austin (1866–1941) left the Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Co and founded the company and was joined by A. J. Hancock from the same company and by Alfred Vincent Davidge and Bobby Howitt. All three men remained with the company until Austin died in 1941. Herbert Austin and Frank Kayser held the initial shares.

1906 January. Purchased old White and Pike factory at Longbridge on a 2.5 acre site with an additional 8 acres.

1906 June William Harvey Du Cros joined to become governing director.

1906 Produced the first car under the Austin name. In their first full year of production they made 120 vehicles and employed 270 persons

1906 March. Description of the works at Austin: 1906 Report

1906 May. Details of a visit to the works and the announccement of the 15-20 and 25-30 models [1]

1907 Private limited company formed. In the eleven months until 30th September 1908 the turnover was £119,744 and 254 cars were sold [2]

1908 Austin was producing 17 different models.

1909 Vehicles made were the 18-24, 40, 60 and the 15 hp models.

1911 The Advocate later the Austin Magazine first appeared

1912 FY ending 30th September. Turnover was £354,209 and 886 cars made. 1,800 persons employed

1912 Became involved with speed boats. Thomas Sopwith won the Harmsworth Trophy with 'Maple Leaf IV'

1913 882 cars made of which 295 were the Model 10

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of Petrol Motor Commercial Vehicles see the 1917 Red Book

1914 Became a public company called The Austin Motor Company (1914) Ltd. Directors and subscribers were Herbert Austin, Harvey Du Cros, Kayser, Albert Ball and H. Marks got 250 preference and one ordinary share each; F. S. Goodwin and P. H. Carter had one ordinary share each. Turnover was £400k and they had 2,000 employees producing around 1,000 cars a year. [3]

1914 Builders of motor vehicles. Employees 2,150. [4] Producing 30 cars per week. [5]

1914 The company turned its resources to the war effort. Received a contract from the Russian government valued at £500,000 for 48 armoured cars, 18 equippen workshop vans, 16 20hp tank wagons, 8 binned spare parts lorries, 140 ambulances and 100 2-3 ton lorries. It was completed and shipped in three months.

1914 Started building new works (the North and West with the existing being referred to as the South) for the building of munitions.

1915 October. Bought Walker Horrocks and Co for their three patents dated 1909 for lighting sets for houses.

1915 John Dudley North joined as superintendent of the aviation department; constructing RE 7 and RE 8 aircraft[6]

1915 The new No. 9 building erected

1916 Name changed.

1916 April New press shop started work

1916 July. Work on the North works situated on the Birmingham side of tyhe railway line commences with the machine shop completed by December and the forge in the following March

1916 December. Work on the West works situated on the opposite of the Bristol Road commences

1917 Block No 6 completed

1918 Early in the year 10,000 men went on strike for a month over the removal of Arthur Peacock

1918 Harvey Du Cros and R. G. Ash elected to board of directors

1914-18 At the end of the war the company had produced around eight million shells (from 210mm to 18-pounders), 2,000 aeroplanes, 2,500 aeroplane engines, 2,000 2-3 ton lorries, 480 armoured cars, 148 ambulances, 750 cars and light vans, and numerous other items. [7]

1919 Decide on a one model policy and produced the Austin Twenty. This enabled the same engine to be used for tractors and lorries

1920 January. The company's capital raised to £5 million

1920 April. Issued catalogue on the 'Glandless' petrol pump. [8]

1921 April. Arthur Whinney was appointed receiver and manager of the business

Company growth up to 1921

   Year       Turnover       Cars Made       Employees       Notes   
1906 £14,771 11 months ending 31st October 1906
1907 £84,930 12 months ending 31st October 1907
1908 £119,744 11 months ending 30th September 1908
1909 £169,821 402
1910 £209,048 576
1911 £276,196 664
1912 £354,209 886 1,800
1913 £425,641 882
1914 1,000 2,150
1917 20,000 Most employees on munitions work
1919 1,100
1920 <£4m 4,319
1921 2,246

Figures are for FY ending 30th September

Company reformed

1922 March. The directors of the re-formed company were Herbert Austin (Chairman), Harvey Du Cros (Deputy Chairman), R. G. Ash, Sir Arthur Hardinge, A. T. Davies, T. D. Neal, C. R. F. Englebach and E. L. Payton.

1922 The Baby Austin was launched in 1922 and offered for sale at £225 putting it within the budget of customers who had never owned a car. Output of the Baby Austin reached 25,000 annually by 1925; the price was reduced each year. The company was the largest car factory in the UK with more than 58 acres of floor space.

1924 May. Entered talks about merging Austin with Morris and Wolseley but the talks failed mainly due to the reluctance of Morris who were the most profitable of the companies by some considerably amount

1925 Formed Austin Electric Co to continue the business they had been developing based on the purchase of Walker Horrocks and Co in 1915.

1925 July. General Motors came close to buying Austin but then bought Vauxhall

1926 Herbert Parkes joins the board and left in 1932.

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history.

1928 The sales manager Sammy Holbrook left the company and Herbert Austin took over leadership of the sales function. Rootes lost the London and Home Counties dealership to Car Mart and the Austin showrooms in Oxford Street. George Heath lost the Birmingham area, which was then handled direct from Longbridge

1932 Herbert Pepper becomes a director

1934 See Austin: 1934 Review

1936 25,000 persons employed at Longbridge

1938 Leonard Lord joined the company board from Morris

1938 October. Started production of medium-sized commercial vehicles

1939 Longbridge site was now 100 acres.

1941 Ernest Payton became Chairman

WWII Produced over 2,500 fighters and bombers to the RAF, including Balltes, Spitfires, Hurricanes, Stirlings and Lancaster.

1946 Formed joint venture in battery-powered vehicles with Crompton Parkinson to form Austin Crompton Parkinson Electric Vehicles

1946 On the death of Payton, Lord became Chairman of the company

1948 Opened a non-profit making company at Tiryberth, South Wales for ex-miners suffering from silicosis

1948 Introduced the FX3 taxicab in conjunction with Mann and Overtons and a pressed steel body from Carbodies

1950 Introduced the Loadstar 2 and 5 ton trucks

1950 Record year with 142,723 cars and 23,000 commercial vehicles produced.

1950 September. George Harriman appointed Deputy Managing Director

British Motor Corporation

1952 February. Merged with the Nuffield Organisation to form British Motor Corporation.

1961 Employed 21,000 persons. Capital was £5 million.

1966 Part of British Motor Holdings

1968 Part of British Leyland Motor Corporation

1975 Part of British Leyland

1977 Part of BL

1986 Part of the Rover Group

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Tuesday, May 01, 1906
  2. The Austin 1905-1952 by R. J. Wyatt. Published 1981. ISBN: 0 7153 7948 8
  3. The Times, Monday, Feb 09, 1914
  4. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  5. British Motor Cars 1950/51
  6. The Times, Jan 12, 1968
  7. Ministry of Munitions War Production Figures issued Decemebr 1918
  8. The Engineer of 30th April 1920 p438