Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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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.

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.

Motor Car Emporium

From Graces Guide
2017. Offices, previously 'The Norland Arms' pub. The entrance to the left was the Motor Car Emporium's works, a former stables; now houses. (Image: Mick Hamer).

Durkopp and De Dion-Bouton

Motor Car Emporium [1]

26 November 1897. Company registered, company number 54970[2]

2 February 1898. Registered address is 1 Princes Road, Holland Park. This is the same address as the Automobile Association.[3]

9 May 1898. Directors include Charles Heyermans of 71 Eardley Crescent and Edward Ernest Lehwess of 10 Clanricarde Gardens, Notting Hill.[4]

6 April 1900. Companies House asks for annual return. Motor Car Emporium promises to file them “at once”. The reply is written on Automobile Association notepaper.[5]

18 April 1902. Heyermans resigns. Lehwess is now sole director.

Company seems to have been dormant since it was registered. On 15 October 1903 Companies House writes to ask if the company is still in business.

7 December 1903. Frederick Frentzel, the manager of the Motor Car Emporium, replies to Companies House. The company is now based at 1 Addison Road North, Holland Park.[6] Addison Road North is now called Addison Avenue.

31 December 1903. Accounts show that the Motor Car Emporium’s income to date has been £6,339.[7] The emporium’s main business is importing cars from the continent.

By 1905 the Motor Car Emporium had moved into importing commercial vehicles. It placed a large order for De Dion Bouton chassis at the start of 1905.[8] According to Scotland Yard’s engineering adviser, William Worby Beaumont, the leading motor engineer of his day, during the boom years of 1905 and 1906 anyone who wanted a commercial vehicle chassis had to deal with the Motor Car Emporium.[9]

April 1905. The Motor Car Emporium announces that the London Road Car Co has ordered 51 motor buses.[10]

Over the next three months the Motor Car Emporium’s publicity machine moves into overdrive. It has supplied a 25 hp Durkopp van, used to take parcels to Redhill and Durkopp buses to the Great Western Railway, the Mersey Railway and the North Eastern Railway. It can also supply motor ambulances, beer wagons and a mobile advertising van. [11]

August 1905. Lehwess and the Motor Car Emporium show a Mors bus in Paris.[12]

September 1905. Motor Car Emporium becomes sole agent for Scheibler chassis.[13]

October 1905. Mors supplies the Motor Car Emporium with 200 bus chassis.[14]

November 1905. The Motor Car Emporium has a large stand at the Olympia motor show. The exhibits include motor buses with De Dion and Ducommun chassis. London General Omnibus Company orders 108 motor buses.[15]

9 February 1906: The Motor Car Emporium agrees to supply the Edinburgh and District Motor Omnibus Company with 150 bus chassis. [16]

March 1906. The emporium has a large stand at Cordingley’s Motor Show at the Agricultural Hall, in Islington. The emporium’s advertising claims that it supplies buses to the London Road Car Company, the London General, Vanguard, Rapid Road Transit and the Reliance Motor Transit Co. [17]

19 April 1906: The emporium agrees to supply 300 electrobuses to the London Electrobus Company.[18]

24 April 1906. Newspaper reporters question how the Motor Car Emporium, with a paid-up capital of just £7, is going to supply 300 electrobuses.[19] A reporter despatched to visit the emporium’s works discovers that it is merely a small former stable yard, next to a public house in Holland Park. [20]

24 April 1906. Scottish Motor Traction successfully sues the Motor Car Emporium for failing to deliver buses that it had ordered.[21]

1 June 1906. Lacoste et Battman start legal proceedings to force the Motor Car Emporium to be wound up.[22] It is the first of a series of court actions caused by the Motor Car Emporium’s serial failure to deliver promised vehicles or to pay suppliers.

16 June 1906. Prospectus of the London General Omnibus Company says that the company has already paid the Motor Car Emporium more than £42,000 in advance for De Dion motor buses.[23] The contract was worth a total sum of £70,000.

8 September 1906. The Motor Car Emporium signs a contract giving the London Electrobus Company the right to use a garage at 45 Horseferry Road. [24]

January 1907. The Motor Car Emporium issues £20,000 of debentures (bonds that are a mortgage on the company’s assets). The issue of debentures was frequently a device used by companies to avoid paying unsecured creditors. [25]

March 1907. Olympia motor show. The Motor Car Emporium’s stand includes vehicles with De Dion, Durkopp and Scheibler chassis. [26]

March 1907. At a series of stormy meetings shareholders decide to wind up the Edinburgh and District Motor Omnibus Co. The Edinburgh company had paid £12,000 to the Emporium but only received 16 buses. Five of them worked four might if a lot of money was spent on them. The rest had been assembled from incompatible components made by different companies and were condemned as unfit for public use. [27]

29 May 1907. A high court judge tells the Motor Car Emporium to pay the [London Road Car Co|London Road Car Company]] £1200 for 25 undelivered Durkopp buses. [28]

18 June 1907. The company’s debentures holders, Edward Lehwess, his mother Jenny Lehwess and Frederick Frentzel, put the company into voluntary liquidation, appointing their own compliant receiver. [29]

8 July 1907. The London Road Car Company and De Dion Bouton ask the courts to make the liquidation of the Motor Car Emporium compulsory, so that the liquidation is in the hands of an independent receiver. Lehwess opposes this move. [30]

23 July 1907. A high court judge decides to wind up the Motor Car Emporium. Between 1 Jan 1906 and 23 July 1907 the company’s turnover was £145,000, with gross profits of £50,000. [31]

1907 September. The high court confirms its decision for compulsory liquidation of the Motor Car Emporium. It appoints a committee of three: John Christopher Mitchell, of 9 Grosvenor Road, representing the London Road Car Co, Samuel Jopson Lewis of 122 Gloucester Road, Chalk Farm, representing T. H. Lewis (a firm of body builders) and Edward Ainslie Locock of 14 Bedford Chambers, representing the Electric Van, Wagon and Omnibus Co.[32]

1907 December. Official receiver publishes his report on the liquidation of the Motor Car Emporium. He agrees to pause the liquidation if certain debts are paid. [33]

April 1909. Shareholders sue the Edinburgh and District Motor Omnibus Company over its misleading prospectus. The Edinburgh shareholders say their directors should have known that the Motor Car Emporium was unlikely to be able to fulfil its obligations. [34]

July 1910. A proposal by Jenny Lehwess to pay creditors 2/8 in the £. The proposal is accepted and the company lingers on.[35]

1 January 1917. Board of Trade appoints receiver to wind up the company under the Trading with the Enemy Act. [36]

August 1928. Motor Car Emporium is finally struck off. [37]

1904. 'Dr. E. Lehwess, of 66[38], Holland-park-avenue, Kensington, was summoned before Mr. Rose for fraudulently allowing a false identification mark to be used on a motor-car, and for wickedly and corruptly offering Police-sergeant Yellen, 3 XR, the sum of £l, intending to pervert the due course of law and justice. There were also summonses against Frederick Frentzel[39], stated be Dr. Lehwess’s manager, and Leonard Clark, of 45, Horseferry-road, Westminster, for fraudulently using a false identification mark, and for using an unregistered car.— Mr. Blanchard Wontner, prosecuted behalf of the Commissioners of Police, and stated that, on two different dates, Inspector Evans and Police-sergeant Yellen, who had received certain information, saw cars bearing the mark "V 421", being driven in the street by Frentzel and Clark, the cars having come out of the yard of the Motor-car Emporium (Limited), Addison-road, Kensington, of which Dr. Lehwess was Managing Director. The letter "V” was applied to Leeds, and inquiries being made there it was discovered that no such number existed in Leeds, and it was, in fact (said Mr. Wontner), a fictitious number. As regards Clark, it was stated that he had purchased car from the Company, and was seen driving it to Dr. Lehwess's house, with the mark "V 421" on it. The defending Solicitor said the number was really a French number, and he produced the French licence respecting it. Mr. Wontner: It does not matter if the number came from Timbuctoo. The use of it in London renders the car unidentifiable. Evidence only on the summonses against Frentzel was taken, the chief witness being Mr. Parker, engineer, Vesper road, Kirkstall, Leeds, who, having gone to the depot to purchase car, and being struck by the number, the letter "V" related to Leeds, reported the fact the Leeds police. Mr. Rose fined Frentzel 40s., with two guineas costs, and adjourned the others.'[40]

Frentzel, Clark and Lehwess were the first motorists to be prosecuted under the 1903 Motor Car Act.[41]

The prototype electrobus was supplied by the Motor Car Emporium of Holland Park. It had a 14 hp electric motor made by Thomson Houston at the company’s Paris works. The battery for this prototype was supplied by the X Accumulator Company.[42]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Mick Hamer
  2. The National Archives, BT 31/15868/54970.
  3. Princes Road is now called Princedale Road.
  4. The National Archives, BT 31/15868/54970.
  5. The National Archives, BT 31/15868/54970.
  6. The National Archives, BT 31/15868/54970.
  7. The National Archives, BT 31/15868/54970.
  8. Commercial Motor, 4 April 1907, p. 115.
  9. Financial News, 22 April 1909, p. 6.
  10. Motor Car Emporium display advert in the magazine Motorist and Traveller, April 1905.
  11. Commercial Motor, 23 March 1905, p. 40; 13 April, p. 111; 27 April, p. 152; 11 May, p. 191; 20 July, p. 370; 19 October, p. 93.
  12. Commercial Motor, 3 August 1905, p. 406.
  13. Commercial Motor, 28 September 1905, p. 36.
  14. Commercial Motor, 26 October 1905, p. 100; 30 November, p. 240.
  15. Commercial Motor, 23 November 1905, p. 208.
  16. The Times, 13 February 1906, p. 13.
  17. Commercial Motor, 29 March 1906, p. 77 and display advert.
  18. The National Archives, BT 31/17731/88381.
  19. The National Archives, BT 31/15868/54970; Financial Times, 24 April 1906, p. 5.
  20. Financial Times, 25 April 1906, p. 4. The pub was the Norland Arms. Mick Hamer, A Most Deliberate Swindle, RedDoor, 2017, p. 22.
  21. Motor Traction, 2 May 1906, p. 385.
  22. London Gazette, 1 June 1906, p. 3871.
  23. Prospectus published in the Manchester Guardian, 18 June 1906 and other papers.
  24. The National Archives, BT 31/17731/88381.
  25. Mick Hamer, A Most Deliberate Swindle, RedDoor, 2017, p. 184.
  26. Commercial Motor, 28 February 1907, p. 579.
  27. John Bull, 9 March 1907, p. 222.
  28. Motor Traction, 8 June 1907, p. 688.
  29. The National Archives, BT 31/15868/54970.
  30. The National Archives, BT 31/15868/54970.
  31. The Automotor Journal, 7 December 1907, p. 1781; Mick Hamer, A Most Deliberate Swindle, RedDoor, 2017, p. 49
  32. Financial Times, 4 September 1907. p. 5.
  33. Automotor Journal 1907/12/07, p. 1781.
  34. Financial News, 21 April 1909, p. 5.
  35. London Gazette, 18 November 1910, p. 8378.
  36. The National Archives, BT 31/15868/54970.
  37. Motor Traction, 6 August 1928, p. 186.
  38. Mick Hamer
  39. Mick Hamer
  40. London Evening Standard - Saturday 28 May 1904
  41. Mick Hamer
  42. Motor Traction, 25 April 1906, pp. 363-64; Commercial Motor, 26 April 1906, p. 162.