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British Industrial History

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William Howard Horatio Lewis

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William Howard Horatio Lewis (1868–1939), motor manufacturer and dealer

Born on 11 March 1868 at Willenhall, near Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, the third of seven children of Jonah Lewis, sheet-iron worker, and his wife Mercy Rudge.

Educated at Birmingham High School

1879 Arrived in Melbourne with his family and served an apprenticeship in the furniture trade

From ca.1890 Lewis ran a city bicycle manufacturing, importing and repair business, at first with Ernest Beauchamp, then as Melbourne Cycle Stores and from 1895 with C. B. Kellow.

1896 Married Maud Emily Paton

1898 Formed the Tarrant Engineering Co with Harley Tarrant.

Between 1901-06 Tarrant and Lewis were the first in Australia to manufacture a workable petrol-driven car, and they produced ten or twelve such cars but they could not compete with cheaper imports

The agencies for Benz and De Dion acquired in 1899-1900 were the first of more than fifty held over the next forty years, including the profitable Ford agency in 1908-15; while the purchase of Alexander Smith's South Melbourne carriage works in 1903 and its metamorphosis as the Melbourne Motor Body Works presaged expansion into Exhibition, then Russell and Lonsdale streets.

Tarrant's became a proprietary company in 1907. Lewis was managing director and from 1920, when the firm styled itself Auto Cars Ltd, chairman of directors. At his death, which signalled the closure of the distributing part of the business, he was a director of the holding company Allied Motor Interests Ltd and its subsidiary Ruskin Motors Ltd, and of Yellow Cabs of Australia Ltd and Yellow Express Carriers Ltd. Earlier directorships had included De Luxe Motor Service, Sydney, Royal Blue Taxi Co., Melbourne, and Olympia Motors Pty Ltd.

Lewis served as captain in the Australian Volunteer Automobile Corps in 1911-14. He was founder and first president of the Motor Traders' Association of Victoria (later Chamber of Automotive Industries) and first president of the Federal Council of Australian Motor Traders.

He was a founding member in 1903 of the (Royal) Automobile Club of Victoria and belonged to the Commonwealth and Victoria Golf clubs.

Lewis died at his Toorak home on 4 October 1939.

1921 Married(2) Dorothea Surrey (Jean) McEwan

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