This section will include Company Press Statements and Reports,
along with newspaper articles.
It gives an insight into how the company did over the years.
The items will be in chronology order, with the latest additions in Blue
First Production Cars Delivered
A 25hp Austin car, one of the first completed vehicle was delivered to Richmond in Surrey. It had a useful-looking hood and a movable weather screen. A small window in the back allowed the driver to see right through when reversing.
25 November 1911
Austin Motor Co. Taken to Court
At Bromsgrove County Court on Monday last the Bromsgrove District Council sued The Austin Motor Co, Ltd. for £16-11s-4d. This was in connection with the damage done to the Councils Road (Rose Hill Gradient) because of the extraordinary traffic, as the Company were using the hill for testing. It was stated as many as 80 vehicles a week were using the hill and this extra traffic had incurred the council in extra costs to maintain the highway.
The defence pointed out that the Highways Rate had gone down during the period from 9d to 6d in the Pound. (The Highways Rate was the amount paid in the pound based on the rateable value of a Landowner property, which went to pay for the maintenance of the highways) So if the road was fit for traffic, then the Austin Motor Company was entitled to use it as much as it likes.
The case was dropped, with Bromsgrove District Council paying costs.
14 April 1916
The Austin Motor Company (1914) Ltd
The Annual General Meeting of the Austin Motor Company (1914) Ltd, was held on the 13th April 1916 at the offices of the company, Longbridge works, Northfield, Mr. Herbert Austin (chairman and managing director) presiding.
The Secretary having read the notice convening the meeting and the report of the auditors,
The Chairman, in the course of his address, said:- I am pleased to be able to report that, in spite of the continuance of the war and the extensive changes necessary to cope with the large contracts received from His Majesty’s Government and the Russian Government Supply Committee, the results of the past year’s work has been very satisfactory.
Large Contracts Placed with the Company
The sales aggregated nearly £800.000, and for the most part consisted of goods entirely different from those previously made by the company. This speaks well for the energy and resourcefulness of the company’s management and staff, with the result that further large contracts have been placed with the company, and the order book at the present time reaches the total of nearly £2,000,000. When the war is finished there will be no difficulty in returning quickly to our regular business, or taking up any lines that the circumstances may warrant. During the year several large shops have been built and equipped with plant for making shells, aeroplanes, aeroplane engines, and stampings in the most modern and effective manner, and the results attained have been the subject of very favourable comments. Reports from various quarters go to show that everything supplied by your company has in every case given through satisfaction and upheld our reputation for sound and reliable manufacture.
It may seem somewhat out of place during these serious and unhappy times to offer or receive congratulations on the results of the trading of a “controlled” business; at the same time it is obviously necessary that an undertaking employing over 4,000 hands must take the greatest care to safeguard its resources, or it might very soon become ineffective and a danger rather than a help to the Government, both during the war and also when it is over.
Assisting the Government and its Allies
After peace is declared (and I am sure we shall all be only too happy too hasten its advent) the Government will require the best efforts of its workshops and business undertakings to absorb the men returned to civil life from the Army and Navy, and to produce every requirement within our shores and not have to purchase abroad, and also to manufacture for export the greatest possible quantity of goods that can be sold to other nation and our Colonies. such a result is not to be obtained by badly-managed or bankrupt concerns, and as credits will have to be extended after the war, large sums will be required to finance the stock during manufacture and until cash is received in payment. to look after the future and at the same time, give the Government the best possible value has not been an easy matter, and it will no doubt be increasingly difficult if the war is to continue much longer, so that if our profits are smaller than some would consider sufficient, or not on a par with those of some more fortunate concerns, it can at any rate be taken for granted that the efforts of your management and staff have have been unceasing in their desire to assist the Government and its Allies in their big task. A reputation for good honest work will be a valuable asset in the immediate future, and we feel confident that the product of the Longbridge works will hold its own and amply repay any expense we have incurred to safeguard our good name.
Output Still Increasing
As mention in the report, our output is still increasing, and the sales for the month of March were over double those of March 1915. As to how much further our efforts can be or should be extended it is not possible to say, but it is a comfort to know that the requirements of our big Army and Navy, and those of our Allies, are being day by day more easily met within our shores, and that it is not now so necessary to go elsewhere for our munitions. All this is to the credit of the business undertakings which have done so well, and made such big efforts under very trying conditions.
During the last financial year the works were only closed for a few days for holidays and repairs, and in some of the departments the strain of working six nights or seven days a week was severe. Since early in December, 1915, the Saturday night shift and Sunday work has been suspended at the suggestion of the Ministry of Munitions, with the result that a number of the employees have left to go to other works still continuing the practice. Some general ruling on such an important matter is necessary, as the double pay received for weekend work is apparently a big temptation.
Advice to Workers
Wages and the cost of raw materials have risen to, in some cases, double what they were in pre-war times, but in many directions the removal of the restrictions on output and the work of a simple and easily-learned character done by unskilled labour have resulted in considerable reductions in the final cost, proving definitely that if the workers would only throw off the yoke of the section of their unions who preach “restriction of output as the only means of regulating work and preventing non-employment” they would be able to earn greatly increased wages and ensure employment for every one by making it possible for a large portion of the goods that are now, or were previous to the war, purchased abroad to be made in this country. this is a much more important matter than a fiscal policy, and more hopeful if it could be brought about than a combined effort to restrict German and Austrian competition, because it would be economically sound and of a lasting character. It seems to me that the present would be a fitting opportunity for the employers’ federations and the workmen’s union to get together and discuss the encouragement of the better instants among workers generally and the conditions under which it would be practicable, after we have beaten the enemy in a military and navel sense, to pull together and beat them in manufacturing and commerce. A return to the old narrow-minded ways, small and uniform wages, restricted and misdirected efforts, seems impossible. Both sides would have to make changes, but the possibilities will be so enormous for each party that any throwing overboard of ancient and out-of-date rules would be more than amply repaid. The cost of the war is enormous, and we have not yet finished with it; but if we can commence operations in a well organized way immediately the struggle is finished, the losses will be wiped out in a very short time.
Your directors look forwards to being able to present a similarly satisfactory statement at the next annual meeting, at the same time doing their requirements at a fair and equitable cost. I now have pleasure in proposing:- “That the report and accounts, as printed, for the year ending November 30 1915, be received and adopted.”
The resolution was carried unanimously.
The retiring director, Alderman Albert Ball, JP., and the auditors, Messrs. Carter and Co,. having been re-elected, a vote of thanks to the chairman concluded the proceedings.
The Annual General Meeting of the Austin Motor Company (Limited) was held on Thursday at the offices of the company in Northfield, Sir Herbert Austin, KBE (chairman and managing director), presiding.
The Chairman, in the course of his remarks said:-
I have pleasure in being able to report that the operations of the company continue to expand, and during the Period under review the following increases have taken place in comparison with the preceding 12 months:-The employees, 125 per cent; turnover, 97 per cent; assets, 64 per cent. These extensions have naturally necessitated a proportionately heavy increase in capital expenditure in our works, which we now call the South Works. and at the instructions of the Ministry of Munitions we have erected and equipped, at their cost, two very large Works adjacent to the South Works which we have named the ‘North’ and ‘West’ works. These two works are served by a completely new power units, boilers, engines, coolers, etc, situated to the east of North Works. Each Works has self-contained canteens, ambulance stations, etc, fitted out to the most complete manner. Suitable siding and station accommodation for goods has also been provided. These three, works have been operating at very high pressure, day and night, during the whole of the period.
Site for Further Extensions
Some 60 acres of our vacant land is been levelled. The cost of this work has been rather heavy, owing to the large amount of material it has been necessary to deal with, but the work is drawing to a close and will certainly provide, when finished, one of the most satisfactory sites in the country.
To provide some portion of the accommodation necessary for housing our very large number of employees, we have purchased two farms between the works and the village of Northfield on which we have erected 252 houses and a complete and up-to-date laundry. The portion of the property occupied by the houses has been laid out on garden suburb lines, with proper drainage, gas and water systems, and tar macadam roads, footpaths, etc. The whole of the houses were completed and in occupation before November last (1917), and although the cost of carrying out this work has been somewhat high, the advantages gained by being able to provide for nearly 1,000 of our employees have warranted the expenditure. Sufficient land is still available for the erection of an additional 500 to 600 houses but it is not proposed to do any further building until conditions affecting the cost are modified. The position occupied by this estate is ideal for the purpose. and it has created a considerable amount of public attention and approval.
A building and grounds, formerly in use as a school were purchased at Bromsgrove and fitted up as a hostel This is in occupation and has been a very great conveniences and assistance. Also, to obtain sufficient labour, a large fleet of motor-buses have been built and are running to various centres.To accommodate these a large garage at the works, and two other garages at Bromsgrove and Belbroughton have been erected and equipped.
Preparations For Trade After The War
These extensions have naturally made it necessary to engage a suitable staff to control the work, and throughout the whole of the period we have endeavoured to keep in view a programme for post-war operations which would enable us to employ and make use of the three works and, as far as possible, all the staff and employees. We have drawn up a definite scheme settled on the various articles we intend to manufacture, have designed prepared models, and we are now actively engaged in fixing up suitable relationships with agents and representatives in all parts of the world in which it will be possible for us to operate when peace is declared. I consider that we have to-day one of the most complete and efficient works organisations in the Empire, and we except to be able to occupy a very strong and important position in the markets where the sale of the goods we have decided to manufacture will be effected. In spite of the big extensions in our operations, I am pleased to be able to report that the company is not burdened with any mortgages or Debentures other than the small amount received from the Government towards the cost of building the dwelling-houses on the estate.
“I regret that the necessary restrictions placed on publishing figures and also the fact that we have not yet reached a settlement of our claims for allowances under the Munitions of War and Finance Acts prevent me from giving full details of our doings, but I feel confident that when the time comes we shall be able to place on record a statement which will in every way satisfy our shareholders and give them reasons to be proud of their connections with the company.
03 February 1919
New Investment after the War
The working capital obtained by the issue 7% Preference Shares in February 1914 was expended in increasing the plant, buildings, and operations of the Company, and when the war broke out the contracts on which the Works were engaged were important and numerous, and the Company’s prosperity was at its height. Many of these contracts were necessarily suspended or cancelled in August 1914, but orders were immediately obtained for ambulances and special vehicles, etc. which absorbed practically the whole of the material on hand at remunerative prices. These orders enabled the Company to take up further large contracts for War Munitions, which have since continually increased, and resulted in long extensions being made to the Works. The Company is a controlled establishment.
The success of the Company’s operations warranted the Government in laying down, on the Company’s property, two large works adjacent to the original Works at Longbridge now named the ‘South Works’ for special munition manufacture under the control of the Company’s staff, and these two Works, called the ‘North and West Works were purchased by the `Ministry of Munitions, of White, London, subject to an option for the Company to re-purchase the Works and installation, other than the special machine tools now installed.
All three works are equipped with two power stations and interconnecting electric cables, several of miles of to the Midland and Great Western Joint Railway line, and two passenger stations - for the special use of the employees have been laid down adjoining the Works, enabling the Company to obtain labour conveniently and economically from a wide radius.
The total area of the Freeholds owned by the Company is about 268 acres. Of this an estate of 123 acres, close to the Works, is partially developed as a Garden Suburb: 252 houses are already built, with sewers, roads, club house and steam laundry, for the Company’s employees. There is still room available for a further 750 houses.
A large aerodrome adjoining the South Works is being completed by the Company partly on its own land, and partly on land proposed to be acquired from the Ministry of Munitions. This will largely increase and facilitate the operations in the Aeroplane Department, which achieved one of the largest outputs in the country during the past year.
The Company has established depots in London and Manchester and controls a subsidiary Company in Paris. The production during the past year was over twenty times the pre-war turnover, entirely justifying the capacity of the personnel, the Staff, and Management of the Company.
This large output has been obtained without any additional Capital other than advances from the Government and the borrowings from the company’s Bankers.
"During this period of reconstruction a considerable output was maintained and profits made. To assist in carrying out this reorganization and extension, an issue of £1,000,000 in Preference shares was made in February, 1919, the Board of Directors considering that the provision of the larger amount of capital required to carry on the manufacture should be held over until the works were thoroughly in order, the various markets of the world properly tested, and a good number of the models in the hands of the public.
"The orders and contracts on hand at the present time are more 2.5 times the amount which was anticipated in January 1919, and an examination of the records show that an output of over £10.000,000 will be required to approximately satisfy the demands of the Company’s agents and customers for the present year; an even larger amount is demanded for the succeeding years. This very large production is within the capacity of the works and organization, and the Directors have every confidence in asking for the subscription of the additional working capital outlined in the Prospectus, having satisfied them selves that it can be profitably employed in the business.
We are already turning out 75 Chassis and 25 Tractors per week, and confidently expect by gradual increase to reach by the end of June, the full schedule of output of 200 Chassis 100 Tractors and 60 Lorries per week besides our normal quantities of Electric Lighting Outfits and Spares.
"To conserve the success gained by the Company’s Agricultural Tractors in France, and to overcome the high duties and rates of Exchange, and the difficulties and expense of transport, and also to meet the natural desire of the French farmers to purchase tractors made in France, the Board decided during the past year to increase the capital of the French Company known as ‘Sciete Anonyme Austin’ 10,000,000 francs, and to establish and equip a factory there. A very suitable works have been purchased by the Company’s Agricultural Tractors in France, situated on the main Nord Railway, midway between Amiens and Paris, in a district noted for its industrial advantages. The whole of the necessary power plant, machine tools, jigs and gauges required have been sent over from the Longbridge Works, and are now installed and manufacture commenced. An output of 2,000 tractors per annum is anticipated and satisfactory arrangements have been made for the sale, over a period of five tears, to the eminent form of French Agricultural Engineers – T.H Pilter, Paris. The Austin Motor Company Limited, own about three-fourths of the capital of the French Company, and will receive suitable Royalties for the use of their Patents, Trade Marks, Goodwill, etc.
14th July 1919
The fifth Annual Meeting of the shareholders in the Austin Motor Company (Ltd.) was held at the registered office of the company, Longbridge Works, Northfield, Birmingham on Thursday. Sir Herbert Austin, KBE, MP, the chairman of the company, presided.
The Secretary (Mr A W Jones) read the notice convening the meeting, and the report of the directors for the ending 31st december, 1918, which contained a recommendation for a 15% dividend upon Ordinary shares, was then unanimously adopted.
Lieu. Col. Kayser retires from the board this year and did not offer himself for re-election. the other directors and officers of the company were unanimously re-elected, and a vote of thanks to the chairman was passed by acclamation.
Sir Herbert Austin addressed the shareholders as follows:- When we held our last general meeting, the Allies had turned the tide of battle and we were able to regard the future with a great deal more confidence than we had ever experienced at any former period of the war, a confidence justified by the glorious and complete defeat of the enemy on all fronts shortly afterwards. this confidence was not born entirely of the prowess of our Army and navy, although we have never in our history ben quite so proud of the two Services as we have been during the late war, but also because we had at last found that we were able to supply these Services with war material of all kinds in greater quantities and of better quality than our enemies could provide their men with.
Output of War Material
I suppose I may be pardoned if, on behalf of the staff and personnel, I say that this confidence was to some small extent due to the success of the work done at Longbridge since August 1914, a period of almost five years, through to many of us it seems to have lasted nearer twenty. I have on previous occasions during the struggle had to deal with the subject of the efforts at Longbridge in very guarded terms, but now that Peace is signed I would like to take the first opportunity of meeting the shareholders together, to give them some details of what has happened in the works since July 1914. In the first place, the outbreak of war found us in the midst of a very busy period, engaged on the manufacture of a throughly satisfactory car, but cancellations on all sides soon made it imperative to search for other means to keep the works employed. It was found in the direction of supplies of various kinds, such as ambulances, lorries, armoured cars and special vehicles, to the russian Government.
Towards the end of 1914 the supply of small high explosive shells to own forces became of supreme importance, in fact, the want of this item was one of the principal causes of bringing into being of the Ministry of Munitions in the spring of 1915. The company was fortunate in obtaining a small contract early in 1915 for these shells, and to be able to demonstrate to the War Office that they could successfully make them of better quality and at a much lower cost than was previously considered possible. It was this success which brought the company prominently before the War Office,and resulted in orders being afterwards placed in such quantities for large and small shells, aeroplanes and aeroplane engines, guns, lorries, ambulances wagons and carts of various kinds, armoured cars, electric power sets, and a multitude of small details, that the works had to be extended continuously.
Extension of Works and Increase in Employees
At the outbreak of war, our staff and personnel numbered 2,638, and in March 1918 (the period of our greatest effort), we were employing 21,000 men and women. The workshops have increased from an area of 7.5 acres to over 38 acres and, in addition, we were employing several thousands of work people in other works, entirely on our contracts and under our supervision. The freehold land covered by and surrounding the works now amounts to over 300 acres. The gross value of our annual output had risen in 1918 to nearly £10,000,000 or about twenty times the best pre-war year.
Naturally, this was not accomplished without a great deal of worry and hard work, particularly for certain members of the staff, of whom I am pleased to mention Messrs, Harry Austin, superintendent engine erecting shop; H Bradshaw, superintendent 18-pounder shell shop (nights); Myddleton Briggs, works engineer; K Brozyna, chief of experimental department; H C Corber, superintendent body shop; J F Cutts, superintendent tool room (nights); A V Davidge, designer; J J Day, cashier. W Dawson, superintendent 8in projectile factory (nights); F C Dolbt, chief designer (jig and tool); J C Haefeli chief experimental designer; A J W Hancock, designer; J Hanny, chief inspector; C Hervey, superintendent 18-pounder shell shop (nights)l Holbrook, sales department; A W Jones, secretary (days); D Royce, chief store-keeper; Maurice William, production manager.
One member of the staff Mr MacLellan was awarded the OBE, andit would, in my opinion be quite justifiable on the part of the Government if they were to give several other members of the staff who did so much to help to win the war equal recognition of their serviced.
When the Armistice was signed, an almost similar wholesale cancellation of contracts took place as occurred in 1914, but with important differences that the relative size of the works and the problems involved were immensely greater, and the efforts that have since been entailed seem to those concerned more difficult and more worrying than at any period during the war.
The work the company was engaged on at the end of 1918 for the Government was so entirely different to our staple trade, that a large portion of the plant has had to be sold, other machines and appliances purchased, and nearly every one of the machines retained has had to be moved to some other position. Workshops have had to be altered and some others built to bring the factory back again to a balanced condition but, happily, this work is now nearly finished, and this week we are able to say with some satisfaction that we have completed our first batches of chassis of the new 20hp car and the agricultural tractor - some six weeks late, but still of such satisfactory character as will, I feel sure, well repay those whom we have had to keep waiting. During the period of changing over, we have been compelled to finish off a large amount of work belonging to our various Government contracts, and we are still engage on this, particularly in the aeroplane department - in fact, this work has considerably interfered with and delayed our post-war operations.
The Outlook - Success of the Austin Tractor
The shareholder will, I feel sure, be more interested at the present time in some account of what our future prospects are and, in this direction, I am able to give them some figures and facts which should be ample to prove that, given reasonably good times, the works at Longbridge will be able to show as good a result in the future as they have in the immediate past. when the fighting ceased, and we were relived of some of our Government obligations, we were fortunate in having in readiness a programme for post-war manufacture with a definite policy for sales, and a tried and tested car and tractor which allowed our staff to set to work at once and secure contracts from all parts of the world The orders on our books today represent, in gross value, over £6,000,000 and, were we able to accept all we have been offered, we could easily treble this amount.
The success of our tractor in several important trials in France - where it was able to beat all comers - has warranted your directors in arranging for its manufacture in the country as, owing to the restrictions on importation, no other means for securing the market were available. to allow of this being done satisfactorily, the capital of our French Company is being increased to 6,000,000 frances. A suitable factory and additional land have have been purchased at Liancourt, near Greil, on the main line to Parls. It is hoped that this factory will be equipped and in full running order by the middle of October, capable of turning out 2,000 tractors annually. Arrangements have already been made for practically the whole production to be handled by the eminent firm of agricultural engineers Messrs Pilter, of Paris - the chairman of which company has accepted a position on the board of our French Company.
Controlling Interest in a Belgian Company
Together with some Belgian friends of the directors, a small Belgian Company has been formed called “Austin Motor Societe Anonyme,” to handle the sale of the company’s products in Belgium. The company has a controlling interest therein, and a considerable number of lorries have already been sold and contracts secured for cars, tractors, etc.
The shareholders have, on a previous occasion, been advised of the fact that the Company were compelled, in 1917, to purchase land adjoining the works and erect a number of workmen’s houses (252), together with a club house and laundry. these house have been a great help and, as proving the need for the Government housing scheme, although the rents are necessarily high, there is always a long waiting list. As outlined in the prospectus sent out in connexion with the issue of the new capital in February last, the company have exercised their option for the purchase of the north and west works from the Government, on terms which directors consider quite satisfactory.
At this opportunity, I would like to emphasize the value of cooperation at the present time. It is more necessary now than at any period of the war for the members of our Empire to pull together. The signing of Peace has put an end to the alliance so far as commercial matters are concerned, and we have now to look after ourselves under conditions which are not too easy. Many of our colonial and foreign markets have been fed during the past five lost no opportunity of popularizing their wares. These markets must be recovered quickly in spite of our heavy expenses in the way of increased labour and material charges. Apart from our individual efforts we can, by cooperating together, meet the “common enemy” on more equal terms, and it is here I would strongly urge all our manufactures to join the Federation of British Industries - already the largest and most powerful association in the world. Mere joining, however, is not enough; an active interest is necessary, with a generous support of the weaker and more unfortunate members.
26 July 1919
Poor Roads in Longbridge
The motoring correspondent of the Times, stated that the roads in Longbridge and Rednal were in a poor state of repair and should be avoided.
21 Jan 1920
Austin Motor Company Ltd
An Extraordinary General Meeting was held on Wednesday 21st January 1920 for the purpose of passing a resolution to increase the capital of the company to £5,000,000 by the creation of 3,350,000 new shares of £1 each. Sir Herbert Austin KBE, MP proposed the resolution, which after been seconded by Mr Harvey Du Cros jnr. put to the meeting and carried unanimously.
The Company War Work
A year ago we had finished the war, and we were in the midst of cleaning up our munitions contracts. We had five years of extremely successful manufacture of very large quantities of shells, guns, aeroplanes, armoured cars, and other kinds of war requirements, but practically nothing of the goods we made in pre-war times or proposed to make in the future. Our works and our plant had grown to over ten times their pre-war dimensions, and, for this reason, we were very naturally looked upon as a war-time production. The war terminated suddenly, just as at a period when we were at our greatest production. Our contracts were cancelled at very short notice, and this made it imperative to obtain temporary finance. Although we had produced during 1918 an output value at nearly £10,000,000 and your directors had complete confidence in the future, they considered it necessary to reorganise and equip the works for standard manufacture to prove their worth in the hands of our customers, and secure contracts and orders throughout the world.
Our Works and Capacity
I believe we were the first firm in this country after the signing of the Armistice to publish our programme and present to the public well-tested post-war models. We have for instance attained an output of nearly 100 20hp chassis per week long before the Olympia Show in November last, and to-day we should have arrived at double that number. The works cover a total area of roughly, 53 acres. A large steel foundry has been added, capable of turning out 5,000 tons of the finest steel castings per annum. A very large sheet metal press shop has been built and equipped with plant for dealing with the meal panels and frames of the carriage-work, equal to the latest and most advanced American practice. One press alone is of sufficient capacity and powerful enough to cut and form the complete side of a car at one revolution. A very large and complete hardening and heat-treatment shop has been laid down, capable assuring the most accurate results that can be demanded in this very important department of motor-car manufacture.
The West Works has been planned and extended for the making of the carriage-work required for the cars and lorries, and is in my opinion, unequalled in great Britain for that class of work. It is capable of dealing with an output of 250 complete carriage bodies per week. Other shops have been equipped for the building of the wheels, hoods, glass screens, and radiators. The forge shop has been almost doubled. A new blacksmiths’ shop has been built, and all the work, and all the work of this character concentrated in it. A large area has been allocated and equipped for a service department, which controls the stores for spares and the repair shop. In addition to the above, the whole of the plant in the North and South Works, amounting to 2,500 machine, has been put into correct adjustment, re-fixed into its proper position, and other plant purchased or built to balance up the production.
Works Established in France
During the past year your board decided to follow up the success of their agricultural tractor in France in various competitions and trials by establishing works there, capable of supplying France and the french Colonies and Protectorates. These was necessary in order to overcome the high duty, rate of exchange, and transport charges, and also to meet the natural desire of the French farmers to purchase tractors made in France. A very suitable works, together with about 325 acres of land, were purchased at Liancourt (Oise), midway between Paris and Amiens on the Nord main line, in a district noted for its industrial advantages. The whole of the power plant, boilers, engines, electric transmission and lighting, machine tools, jigs, fixtures, gauges, patterns, drawings and all other equipment has been sent over from Longbridge, and is now completely installed and commencing to manufacture. The company own about three-quarts of the capital in the French company, and the remainder is distributed among the shareholders of the Austin Motor Company.
To handle the prospective trade in Belgium in a satisfactory manner, a company called “Austin Motor Societe Anonyme” was formed during 1919 in Belgium with a capital of 500,000f., more than half of which is owned by the Austin Motor Company. A very successful season has just been terminated.
A careful examination of our records shows that it would be necessary to produce a value in 1929 of cars, lorries. tractors, electric equipment, aeroplanes etc., of over £10m to satisfy even approximately the demands of our agents and customers. It is for this reason that we need the extra working capital to complete the pending orders.
Goods We Are Producing
Our schedule of production, necessitated by the orders already on hand, calls for a weekly output of 200, 20hp cars; 100 agricultural tractors; 60 cwt lorries; 500 electric lighting sets; and a large amount of switchboards and other electric equipment. There is also capacity for 25 complete aeroplanes per week, although we have a number under construction, the output must necessarily be somewhat restricted until the whole subject of civil aviation is placed on a commercial footing recent tests of a single-seater biplane which we have designed have proved very successful.
I do not propose to take up your time by lengthy reference to the cars, lorries, tractors, and the lighting sets, but I consider it would be unjust not to give you some few details of their excellence. Dealing first with the car, we have built and delivered more than sufficient to prove unquestionably that it is a remarkable improvement on any car that we have previously produced. It is very powerful, fast a splendid hill climber, very silent, and owing to its light weight, is economical on fuel and tires. In our frank opinion there is no better four cylindered car made at the present time. The 30cwt lorry is of equal merit, as it largely follows the car, the power and change-speed unit being identical. We have made exhaustive test and have just the same confidence in it as we have in the 20hp car. The agricultural tractor has been tested, over a period of nearly two years. and has obtained the first place in all the competitions held recently in Great Britain and France. The results of the Lincoln trials held in September, 1919, have just been published. This trial of agricultural tractors was the most important that has ever been he;d anywhere, and I am pleased to be able to say that our tractor leads the list in its class, once more proving its superiority. It has been throughly demonstrated through this country, France, Belgium, South Africa, South America and other big centres. It is admitted by experts and famers everywhere to be unquestionably the best. and most successful small tractor produced up to the present. We hope to be able to produce not less than 200 per week in 1921. Many of the parts of the engine interchange with the car, so that the stock of spares carried by agents and clients can be reduced and considerable economies effected.
We have recently completed the test and passed into mass production of a complete automatic lighting outfit, which will give current sufficient for a small country residence, and which we are selling in very large quantities at an inclusive price of about £120. The possibilities of the sale of this type of outfit are enormous. We have three or four other sizes of automatic lighting sets of larger dimensions, scheduled for production, which will enable us to accept orders for outfits up to those required for village and small township lighting.
To sum up, I am sure the results given will give you confidence in the future, the same confidence that your directors feel in asking for further capital, with the object of achieving even greater success; and I believe you will go away with the definite feeling that they have done the best possible in the your interests, and that you have every reason to feel secure as to the future.
26 January 1920
Extraordinary General Meeting
The object of the meeting was to pass a resolution to increasing the capital of the company by the issues of £1,000,000 Six per Cent “B” Preference shares. It was carried unanimously.
The Chairman and Managing Director (Sir Herbert Austin KBE. MP) In introducing the resolution he made the following remarks: Gentlemen, Those of you will remember that before the outbreak of war in 1914 the company commenced to increase the capital by £250,000. But with the outbreak of war, many of the contracts on hand at the time were cancelled or reduced. Demand from our own Government and from Russia soon waxed, to the utmost resources of the works, and in a few months necessitated big increases in the building and plant.
It was in the early in 1915 the urgent demand for shells developed into a national emergency, your company stepped into the breach, with other firms and so commenced the manufacture of 18 and 15 pounder shells in large quantities. The arrangement made at Longbridge were so successful that almost every shell-making firm in the country was glad to inspect the methods employed, and we were instructed by the War Office to produce and circulate full details of the tools and operations we used to other contractors for their guidance. In 1916 an 1917 the orders for the 8 inch and 18 ponders shells received could not be delivered in the time scale required. The Government because we did not have the capacity agreed to built two very large workshops, which are now called the North and West Works.
Although the shell production was increased considerable, the demands were made to increase the facilities for the manufacture of aeroplanes and aeroplane engines, armoured cars, lorries, and electric lighting sets at the South Works. Two railways stations have also been laid down adjoining the works, and special train services installed to deal with the passenger and goods traffic. During the past year, the total number of persons employed exceeded 20,000, and the output reached the very large sum of £9,276,717
A definite policy in advance of the cessation of hostilities, a scheme was drawn up and put into operation, which has resulted in us having orders in our books, two months after the armistice was signed, for nearly £4.000.000 of cars, lorries, tractors, and lighting sets. The orders have been given by the keenest and most important firms in the home country, in the Colonies, and in foreign market. Many thousands of trials have been given of the new models, to the complete satisfaction of every one, and orders continue to stream in by every post.
Most of the foreign and Colonial orders are forPeriods of three years, at increasing figures. At no time in the history of automobile manufacture in this country has such enthusiasm been shown by buyers, or such orders placed, and the resources of the whole workshops and plants at Longbridge will be taxed to the utmost. Unfortunately, it will take about four months to change over the shops and rearrange the plant for the new manufacture, but this is now in full swing, and I confidently expect the works will soon be as busy on the munitions of peace as they were a few months ago on munitions of war.
I am feeling certain that the new capital would be willingly subscribed, your directors have arranged for the options to exercised for the purchase of the North and West Works, the terms arrange in the estimation of your board, being quite satisfactory. It is considered that the works are in full swing again they will form the largest and most complete automobile plant in the British Empire. The new capital is being taken up by the Beecham Trust (Limited), of 218 Strand London WC. on terms agreed by your directors on behalf of the company, and it is proposed by the Beecham Trust (Limited) to issue the offer for sale to the public in a few days time.
Sixth Annual General Meeting
The sixth Annual General Meeting of the Austin Motor Company was held yesterday at Longbridge Works, Northfield, Birmingham. After the Secretary Mr A W Jones had read the notice convening the meeting, the directors’ report and accounts for the years ending 1916, 1917, 1918 and 1919 were formally adopted.
The Chairman Sir Herbert Austin KBE then addresses the meeting as follows:- Ladies and Gentleman. This period covers four very strenuous years, during which an immense amount of work was done, but the most trying time was undoubtedly the year 1919, as owing to the difficulties experienced in securing the cooperation necessary from outside contractors to make a rapid transformation to peace-time manufacture, the staff and employees were called upon for efforts even more onerous than at any period of the war.
It is a great relief to say that these efforts have not been in vain, and the policy and programme laid down before the Armistice have been entirely successful. In making this statement I do not wish to suggest that there is any intention of relaxing those efforts. As a matter of fact, the enthusiasm and determination is greater than ever, but I consider that the thanks of the shareholders are due to those responsible for the work done to place the company in the proud position in which it stands to-day.
After the exhausting period which the whole world has lately passed through it is difficult even for the most optimistic to imagine that the future will not bring some troublous times, but in such a case the thoroughly efficient organization and equipment now possessed by the company, backed up by the determination of its and employees, gives the best possible security that could be demanded of an industrial undertaking.
Austin Motor Company Accounts
The report of the Austin Motor Company states that the trading loss, before providing for depreciation of stock and tools, for the two years 1920 and 1921 was £381,923 (including normal depreciation of £123,824). The amount written off, stock and tools, the debt due by the Socete Anonyme Austin, and compensation for delayed payments, etc. is debited in the balance-sheet at £1,951,924.and after deducting the balance brought forward and reserves there is a debit to profit and loss account of £1,883,601. the directors consider that it will be necessary to depreciate the following items under the headings of investments at £212,441 along with the Longbridge Estate and flying ground at £247,842 to the extent of about £300,000, and when more normal conditions prevail to review the value of all assets.
Since the date of the accounts the first mortgage notes have been paid off, and a first debenture issued for £200,000. The bankers’ loan has been secured by the issue of second debentures for £285,000, and the Government mortgages £248,000 has been exchanged for third debentures, and about £1,106,650 of the sums due to sundry creditors will be converted into an issue of a fourth debenture.
Austin Motor Company
The accounts of the Austin Motor Company for 1922 show a gross trading profit of £198,835 to which is added reserves at 31st December 1921, not required (£60,000) and discounts, interest etc. received (£23,527) giving a total of £282,362. Interest on mortgages and debentures and premium on first mortgages debenture amount to £52,256; directors’ fees to £3,626; a sum of £76,4111 is allowed for maintenance of buildings etc. and £71,504 for depreciation. There is left a credit balance brought forward to £1,805,037. The directors state that that they did not resume active control of the company until 5th April 1922; too late to make adequate provision for the busy season. Strenuous efforts have been made to get back some of the pre-war export trade, in order to maintain sales during the slack home season. The accounts have been held over since May in the hope that a reconstruction scheme might be submitted at the same time. It is stated that while there has been progress in this direction, further delay will take place before a final agreement can be arrived at. The next accounts will be for nine months to September 30th it having decided to revert to that date as the end of the financial year. The preceding accounts covered the years 1920 and 1921 and showed a trading loss of £381,923 and a total debit balance after writing down stock and tools, and absorbing the balance brought forward and reserves of £1,883,601.
08 August 1922
New Austin Seven Light Car
There have been many attempts to design a car - which would replace the motor-cycle and sidecar as a family conveyance. So far the latter type of machine has more than held it's own.The Austin Motor Company are among the latest to attack the problem, and the outcome of the effort should be distinctly interesting.
The new Austin of seven hp. is designed to carry a man and his wife and three children,and it is stated that in tests already made a speed of 52 MPH has been obtained,and that a consumption trial resulted in a satisfactory figure of 78 MPG.If the little car is soundly planned and constructed, and the initial price is kept near to the £200, mark, as it is hoped that it will be, we hall certainly be nearer popular. motoring than heretofore.
The model is "orthodox in the general scheme, having a four cylinder water cooled engine, which is specified to give off 10HPat 2 400 RPM. A three speed gearbox, rear live-axle with differential gear and torque tube, half–elliptical transverse spring in the front and quarter-ecliptics at the rear, and adjustable worm and sector steering are among the principal chassis features.
The braking is done on all four wheels, on the application of front and back sets is separate. The coachwork is arranged with two bucket seats in front, which are adjust-able and detachable, and the rear seat is made for two or three children.
It will be readily seen from the above that the baby Austin is a car and not a compromise of makeshift, and this fact is also borne out by the body being fitted with a hood, the side curtains of which are full and open with the door. The road clearance is 9ins the wheelbase 6ft 3ins, the track 3ft 4ins, and the weight 6.5cwt. all important figures, especially for Colonial use and for popular motoring at home, where garage space is the baulking factor in the solution of many a would-be motorist’s problem.
8 January 1923
American Motor Car Competition.
Sir H. Austin On Need For Combination
In the course of an address at a meeting of the Midland Branch of the National Union of Manufactures in Birmingham today, Sir Herbert Austin MP., said he anticipated that this year we should import 50,000 American made motor vehicles, compared with a home production of 75,000.
In his opinion there were too many motor-car manufactures in this country, and they would probably have to combine and economise to reduce costs. The chief factor in the remarkably low selling price of American cars was the narrow margin of profit which manufactures of component parts permitted themselves. In some cases their charges hardly covered cost. Much could be done by British workers emulation American employees, who worked twice as hard as was the practice here. Mr Wilfrid Hill expressed the view that cooperation among the more substantial firms in the motor industry might be of value. He mentioned that only seven motor firms made profits last year, and he foresaw further losses unless there was amalgamation and collective production.
Austin Motor Company Accounts
Since the date of the accounts the first mortgage notes have been paid off, and a first debenture issued for £200,000. The bankers’ loan has been secured by the issue of second debentures for £285,000, and the Government mortgages £248,000 has been exchanged for third debentures, and about £1,106,650 of the sums due to sundry creditors will be converted into an issue of a fourth debenture.
The report of the Austin Motor Company states that the trading loss, before providing for depreciation of stock and tools, for the two years 1920 and 1921 was £381,923 (including normal depreciation of £123,824). The amount written off, stock and tools, the debt due by the Socete Anonyme Austin, and compensation for delayed payments, etc. is debited in the balance-sheet at £1,951,924.and after deducting the balance brought forward and reserves there is a debit to profit and loss account of £1,883,601. the directors consider that it will be necessary to depreciate the following items under the headings of investments at £212,441along with the Longbridge Estate and flying ground at £247,842 to the extent of about £300,000, and when more normal conditions prevail to review the value of all assets.
03 January 1925
An estimate of the results of the Austin Motor Co. Ltd trading for the year ending 30th September 1924 has been issued showing a gross trading profit, including discounts and interest received of £470,902. The statement added that the sales to date are satisfactory, and the whole of the output for 1925 has been contracted for by the distributors and agents.
Flying Contest At Lympe
The Air Ministry has issued the following first report on the results of the competitions for civilian aeroplanes, recently held at Martlesham Aerodrome:-
The judges’ committee consider that the results of the competitions for aeroplanes show collectively less radical advance in general design than had been anticipated, and that through very useful developments in details design have been produced, which in themselves have justified the competitions, the award of the full prizes originally specified is not warranted. The following sums have, been awarded:-
Small Aeroplane Class
Third prize for £1,500 went to the Austin Motor Company Ltd with the Austin “Kestrel,” fitted with the 160hp Beardmore engine.
In the third day of the Royal Aero Club flying contest at Lympe. The closing race was for machines entered by private owners, with seven started. Flight Lieutenant Chick scored his third victory here, Flight-Lieutenant F O Soden in his Austin Whippet fitted with an Anzani engine took second place.
2 September 1925
Austin Motor Company and General Motors Corporation
In view of the conflicting statements that have appeared as to the position of the negotiations between the General Motors Corporation of the United States and Canada and the Austin Motor Company, we are authorized by Mr J D Mooney, vice-president of the General Corporation, and Sir Herbert Austin, chairman of the Austin Company, to state that, while negotiations are in progress, no definite agreement has yet been arrived at. It is hoped, however, that the situation may have developed sufficiently to permit a detail statement been published on Friday 4 September.
A works’ gala, to celebrate the coming of age of the Austin Motor Company, Ltd. was held on Saturday, at Birmingham, and 25,000 people, consisting mainly of employees and their wives and families, were present. A sports programme was arranged, including several motor-cycle events and a decorated car turn-out. In its first year the Austin works employed 270 person, covered 2.1/2 acres, and had an output of 120 cars. To-day the company employs over 8,000 people, the building extend over 62 acres, and last year the output was approximately 18,000 cars.
3 September 1925
Austin Motor Company Negotiation
The following official statement was issued last evening
At a meeting of the board of directors of the Austin Motor Company, held in London on Wednesday, a resolution was passed approving a provisional agreement to be entered into by Sir Herbert Austin, the chairman of the Austin Motor company, with Messrs Morgan, Grenfell and Co., acting on behalf of the General Motors Corporation. At the same time the scheme of arrangement for giving effect to the agreement and reorganizing the present capital structure of the company was approved and recommended by the board, and will be forwarded to the shareholders as soon as permission of the Court has been obtained to call the necessary meetings of the shareholders to obtain their approval.
Steps are being taken to place the proposals before the shareholders in the course of the next few days. They are therefore asked to reserve their judgment until they receive the same from the directors. Shareholders are reminded that nothing definite can be done without their and the Court's approval.
4 September 1925
Austin Motor Proposals
In view of the statement appearing in the Press and elsewhere, states the Exchange Telegraph Company, Messrs T D Neal and E L Payton, financial directors, and C R F Engelbach, works director, and members of the board of the Austin Motor Company, find it necessary, in order to avoid any misapprehension, to state that, in regard to the American offer and the scheme of reconstruction of the capital of the company incorporated with that offer, they are not in agreement with their colleagues. They consider the reorganization of the capital unsatisfactory. So soon as the offer and the scheme are before the shareholders for their decision, they intend to send out a statement setting out the reasons why they are not prepared to recommend the shareholders to accept either the offer or the scheme.
21 September 1925
Austin Motor Report.
Following the breakdown of the tentative scheme for the transfer of control to the General Motors Corporation, there has been published the annual report of the Austin Motor Company. It is a belated document, covering the year only to September 30 1924, though, in justice to the directors, it must be pointed out that a summary of the balance sheet was published at the beginning of the year, and the issue of the full audited accounts was delayed solely owing to the preparation of the company’s reconstruction scheme. The launching of that scheme has been held up through the negotiations with the American group referred to; but, while the report does not touch upon the matter, it is now presumably the intention of the board to push ahead with reconstruction and thereby pave the way for a resumption of dividends. Gross trading profits for the 12 months ended September 30,1924. amounted to £470,903, as compared with £381,640 for the preceding nine months. Deducting charges for maintenance, depreciation, interest, etc.,there remained a credit balance of£161,174, which reduces the debt and profit and loss to £l,438,404. The board state that the estimated profits for the nine months ended June 30 last were considerably larger than for the corresponding period of 1924, and that demand for the company's products is still in excess of the supply. These conditions emphasize the desirability of proceeding without delay to a reorganization of the capital that shall enable. the company to start again with a clean balance-sheet. Already much has been done in the direction of lightening the burden of fixed charges, the Debenture debt between March, 1922, and September, 1924. by redemption and arrangement, having been reduced by £493,000.
21 September 1925
Accounts ending 30 September 1924
The accounts of the Austin Motor Company for the year ended September 30 show a trading profit. including discounts and interest, of £470.903, which compares with £381,640 for the preceding accounting period of nine months. Interest charges , maintenances, and the depreciation and the other debits being deducted, there remains a credit balance of £161,174. This reduces the debit balance on profit and loss account brought forward from £1,599,578 to £1,438,405. The report states that since September 30 1923, the Debentures have been reduced by redemption and arrangement from £708,000 to £315,000, of which figure £225,000 is represented by Third Debentures (bank) and the balance by Third Debentures. The total reduction of debentures from March 23, 1922, to September 30, 1924, amounts to £493,000. The Third Debenture of £90,000 is repayable at £10,000 per annum, free of interest. Some part of the Longbridge Estate has been realised during the past 12 months and further sales are proceeding. It is stated that the estimated profits for the nine months ended June 30 last are larger than for the corresponding.
24 September 1925
Austin Motor Capital Scheme
The particulars were given in the press for the capital reorganization of the Austin Motor Company, under which it is proposed to reduce the capital from £3,347,909 to £1,950,000 the amount of lost capital written off being £1,397,909. On this basis it is estimated that on a profit of £500,000 for the year ended 30th September a dividend of 10% would be paid on the new Ordinary shares of 6s 8d each, leaving for income-tax reserves and working capital of £285,144.
30 September 1925
Reconstruction Scheme Opposed
There was a big muster of shareholders yesterday at the annual meeting of the Austin Motor Company, Limited, which was followed by an informal meeting to receive the impressions of the various interests upon the proposed scheme of 'reconstruction, the whole proceedings lasting, for nearly three hours.
The meetings, which were held at the company’s works at Longbridge, Birmingham, were presided over by Sir Herbert Austin, the chairman. Moving the adoption of the report, Sir Herbert explained the delay in the presentation of the balance-sheet covering the financial year ended September 30, 1924, as being due to the desire of the board to submit a scheme of reorganisation of the capital. He pointed out that the Debenture charge had been considerably reduced; the First Debentures had been removed altogether with the premium due on them ; the Second Debentures had been reduced by £60,000. and the Third Mortgage Debentures by £158,000. The balance of the Government Mortgage on the Longbridge estate of £75,000 had been discharged. There had, therefore, been a continued advance in the efforts of the board to reduce the prior charges.
Mr. Harvey Du Cros seconded the motion. Prolonged argument followed as to the desirability of the board disclosing how much was paid by the company to Sir Herbert Austin by way of salary, commission, royalties etc. It was stated by, the solicitor that this information had been confidentially furnished to a firm of solicitors acting for shareholders. Ultimately Sir Herbert gave the meeting the figures relating to himself and to certain other directors during the past three years, appealing to the Press and shareholders to treat the information as private.
The report was adopted, and the retiring directors reappointed. At the informal meeting which followed, opposition to the scheme of reconstruction outlined was forthcoming from holders of the Preferred Ordinary shares who expressed the opinion that the scheme asked them to make a greater sacrifice than was being demanded from any other class of shareholder. No resolution was submitted, it being explained that each shareholder would have to consider the scheme separately.
13 October 1925
No Profiteering in the Motor Industry
Sir Herbert Austin, chairman of the Austin Motor Company Ltd in proposing the toast of “The Austin Distributors and Agents,” he said that they were having reinstated the McKenna duties. They hoped the duties might be extended to include commercial vehicle, which had quite as much justification for support as the passenger car. A proof that the duties had not resulted in profiteering was that the public were buying was that the public were buying a much improved car to-day, and were not paying more than pre-war prices for the same equipment.
If the Government would agree to tax on fuel instead of the present unjust system, they could bear with better resignation the uneconomic and costly war in which the money derived from the tax way being expended. Referring to the negotiations which had taken place between the Austin Motor Company and American manufactures, Sir Herbert said that he had asked why he did not marry the American lass. “Well,” he added , her dowry was quite substantial, but my relations did not like her, and, therefore, the engagement had to be broken off. I thought that it would be safer for me to marry her than someone else, also that cooperation would have been better than competition. The future might prove that I was right, but as the scheme has been abandoned, I have resolved to do everything humanly possible to prove that all the agents and friends of the company will assist me in the task.
26 June 1926
Austin Motor Works’ Gala Day
Sir Herbert Austin, Chairman of the Board of Directors and founder of the works, speaking at a luncheon attend by 300 guests, said that the total wage bill was £15,662,000 purchases amounted to £24,237,000 employees insurance £127,600 rates and taxes over £200,000 and charitable subscription £11,000. Since the Armistice 57,000 cars had been delivered. Yet in 1906 the Board considered additional expenditure to enable production to be increased to three chassis per week, and deferred the matter.
21 August 1926
The gross trading profits of the Austin Motor Company for the year ending 30th September were £748,800 (against £470.930). from which has to be deducted various charges, leaving a net profit of £447.851(against £161,174). This reduced the debit balance from £1,438,404 to £990,552. Various assets will be written off including £ 165,496 off the Longbridge Estate Laundry and the Flying Ground.
The scheme for effecting a reduction in the capital of the Austin Motor Co. Led. to £2,150,000 by writing off £1,200,000 was submitted yesterday to meeting of the Preferred Ordinary and Ordinary shareholders, and subsequent to an extraordinary general meeting in Birmingham. Because a number of speakers criticised the proposal it was decided to adjourn the meeting.
In November 1927 the company tried again, this time going to Court.
His Lordship confirmed the petition from the Austin Motor Co. Ltd. for the sanction of the Court to a reduction of the capital of the company.
Mr Bennett, KC and Mr Ceil Turner appeared in support of the petition.
Mr Bennett said that the company, which was formed in 1914, had a nominal capital of £5,000,000 of which £3,350,000 had been issued. It was proposed to cancel £1,200,000.
The losses which the company had sustained were due to the trade conditions at the end of the war. The company had gone in for mass production, and incurred heavy expenses in changing their factories over from war-time conditions to peace-time conditions. Then came the “slump” in trade, and the company suffered heavy loss on that account. The company had, however, been in a prosperous condition since 1922, and had been making annual profits.
His Lordship made an order confirming the proposed reduction.
21 August 1926
Austin Motors Profits.
Shareholders in the Austin Motor Company have just received full particulars of the revised scheme of reconstruction (which is to be voted upon at a meeting called for August 31, together with the accounts for the year ended September 30, 1925. An estimate is also providing results for the year ending September 30 next, and it will be of interest first to compare the profit figures :-
Year ended September 30.
. . . . . . . . . . . .1926. . . . . . . . . . . . .1925. . . . . . . . . . . 1924 estimated
Gross profit . . £626,464 . . . . . . . .£748,890. . . . . . . .£470,903
Fixed charges £297,236 . . . . . . . . £301,038 . . . . . . . £309,728
Net profits . . .£329,228 . . . . . . . . £447,852 . . . . . . . £161,175
It will be noticed, first, that gross revenue in the last completed year was substantially larger than in 1923-24, while there was no increase. but a small decrease in charges, and that, secondly, there has been a partial setback in the gross profit during the year now nearly at an end, accompanied by a further small reduction in charges. Estimated profits for 1926, it is explained, have been seriously affected by the general and coal strikes.
Effect of the Scheme.
From the details given in the report and accompanying circular, it is possible to obtain a clear idea of what will be effected by the proposed reorganization. On September 30, 1924, the company had incurred a debit to profit and loss of £l,433,404.This is reduced to £990,552, after taking in the net profit for the year to September 30 last, and increased again to£l,717,446, after writing down various assets to the extent that is considered necessary. Towards meeting this deficiency a sum of £5l7,446 has been provided. after making sundry adjustments,the chief of which on the credit side include the appropriation of the current year's net profit, estimated at £329,228, and up writing up the goodwill at present standing at £281,122 by £287,408. The deficiency of £1,200,000 remaining is to be,net by the reduction proposed in the nominal amount of the Preferred Ordinary and Ordinary shares. By means of this plan the issued capital of the company will be reduced to £2,150,000. The company has already succeeded in consolidating its various classes of debentures,and these will now rank ahead of the share capital one class of funded debt namely, £1,000,000 First Mortgage Debentures,bearing interest at the rate of 6%. Under the scheme arrears of dividend on the Preference shares amounting to£462,500 have to be extinguished before the Preferred and Ordinary shareholders can receive anything. The two latter classes will need, therefore, to exercise further patience, but the vitality shown by the business is such that they can face the future with renewed hope once the balance sheet has been restored to health,as it will be by the plan now submitted.When the arrears referred to have been paid off the annual charges against the company in priority to the Preferred and Ordinary dividends will be £l89,500. On the basis of the profits for 1924-25 this was earned with the large margin of£258,000, and if the less favourable results anticipated for the current year be taken as the basis the surplus over annual Preference dividends amounts to £140,000.
23 February 1927
The Austin Seven for the Continent
A German Agreement
Sir Herbert Austin, in a statement last night, confirmed an announced from Berlin that he has concluded an agreement for the manufacture in Germany of the light car widely know as the "Austin Seven" He said that the markets are limited under the agreement to Germany and Eastern Europe. A new plant is being put down at Eisenach. Thuringia. the initial programme aiming at an output of 300 cars a week.
The Germany-built Austin will be named the "Dixi" car. It is to be a replica in every respect of the Austin Seven, which has already attracted a good deal of notice in Germany by its handiness and engineering efficiency. The high impport duties, Sir Herbert said, were an effectual barrier to all but a very small trade in the car from this country, and the manufacture would be carried on in Germany under licence.
The agreement was concluded with the Gotha Waggonfabrik Company.
28 July 1927
Reconstruction Scheme Approved
The scheme for the writing down of the capital of the Austin Motor Company was unanimously held yesterday at the works Longbridge, Birmingham.
Sir Herbert Austin, who presided, explained that the number of proxies received made it inevitable that the resolution should be passed. The passing of the resolution would a great relief to the directors, who would be able henceforth to devote their full time and attention to the growing needs of a constantly increasing business. The delay which had taken place in the coming settlement with the various groups of shareholders had, he considered, not been entirely opposed to the best interests of all concerned as, with the large profits earned and the improved cash position, the board had been able to draw up proposals in which no class was asked to make any sacrifice. The company, while carefully consolidating its resources, was making substantial headway, due largely to the loyal and energetic support of the staff, the employees, the agents, and the suppliers of materials.
Price Reduction on New Models
Reductions in price, ranging from £100 to £4 are announced by the Austin motor Company Ltd in the new models for 1927. The Austin Seven has been reduced in price by £4 from £149 to £145 in the touring models, and the new 7hp saloon has been reduced by a similar sum from £169 to £165. The 12hp to £275, and the more expensive models are cheaper in proportion. No radical changes in chassis design or body work are reported.
Austin Distributors & Dealers Annual Dinner
Responding to the toast of “The Austin Distributors and Agents,” proposed by Sir Herbert Austin, Mr Stanley Anderson, of Johannesburg, said that in South Africa, with the exception of Natal, people showed preference for American cars of higher power than the usual English models. But in the Transvaal we were making steady progress, and I recently persuaded one of the most anti-British Nationalist to buy a baby Austin. He gave it to his wife and she was delighted. (laughter and cheers)
Speaking at the annual dinner of the Austin Motor Company at the Connaught Rooms Covent Garden London, on the 17th October 1927, Sir Herbert Austin said the company was preparing to turn out a light six-cylinder car in large numbers. A German firm had been given permission to construct the “Austin Seven” They were expecting to make arrangements for the manufacture of the car in France and the United States, as there were no prospects of the company being able to export to either of those market.
Austin Motor Company Outlook
Presiding at the 13th ordinary general meeting of the Austin Motor Company Ltd, held at the Longbridge Works. Northfield, Birmingham, yesterday Sir Herbert Austin, chairman of directors, commented upon the improvements in figures, and referring to the assets, said the company was presenting a very clean balance-sheet. Regarding the company’s 7hp car, he said that it would probably top the list of cars exported from England.
The programme for the year 1927–28 he said, called for considerable increase in the productive capacity of the works, necessary by reason of the big demand which agents were confidently expecting, and for which they had already contracted. To meet this bigger turnover, the company was working at high pressure through the winter months to build up stock, and at the same time making considerable additions to building and equipment.
For the first two months of the New Year the number of cars sold in the home market had increased by 51%, over the similar period in the previous year, and at present there appeared to be no reason why the remaining ten months should not show an even better results. The export trade was increasing, and in some centres gave promise of doubling the past year in numbers. The report, showing a net profit of £406,469, was adopted.
British cars for New South Wales
In the face of strenuous opposition from America interests, it has been decided that British cars are to be used for the first time in the New South Wales Government Ministerial fleet. The existing American machines are to be scrapped. Orders have been places in England for five high-grade saloons cars, and a 20-70hp limousine has already been delivered to the New South Wales Premier. The decision is of interest, because it is stated that no British car has ever before been used by Ministers of the Crown for their official journeys.
27 August 1928
New prices of Austin Vans
Following the reduction recently announced in Austin cars, the new prices of the vans and ambulances are as follows:-
7hp commercial chassis was £109 now £102
van £140 now £133
12hp commercial chassis was £195 now £185
van £285 and now f275
Travellers brougham £305 now £300
20hp commercial chassis £325 now £295
Van £436 now £410
Along with the price changes, various other modification have been carried out. In place of gaiters for the springs thin soft metal plates have been introduced between the leaves of the springs. These modify the friction and, it is stated, render lubrication unnecessary, which is a distinct advantage. The petrol tank filler has been so placed that replenishment can be made without the driver having to leave his seat. The.petrol gauge is now mounted on the instrument board, where the driver can see it at any time without disturbance. The Austin Motor Company are exhibiting at the Paris Salon and are showing four models, all of the six-cylinder type-namely, two Twenties and two Sixteens.
4 October 1928
Paris Motor Show
The French “Austin Seven”
Great interest was aroused at the Paris Motor Show with the first showing of the new Rosengart light car of 7hp, which is to be manufactured in quantities. The cheapest model which is a two-seater is priced at 14,900 francs about £120. The chassis is simply that of the famous Austin Seven. of which the Rosengart Company have acquired the manufacturing rights in France. It is identical with the Austin design at practically every level. French coachwork, very wide and roomy and highly coloured, is fitted, together with wheel discs and a luggage locker, and it makes an attractive little vehicle, although the overall appearance was spoiled by the square radiator. If the performance of the Rosengart is equal to that of the prototype it should be certain of success.
Motor Trade & Duties
Sir Herbert Austin replies to Labour Leaders
Sir Herbert Austin replied yesterday to the speeches made by Mr MacDonald and Mr Snowden on Wednesday with reference to the letter in which he pointed out the possibility of the Motor Works having to close down if a Socialist Government repealed the McKenna duties. Mr MacDonald described the letter as a “threatening and blackmailing” one and Mr Snowden reminded Sir Herbert Austin that the Emergency Powers Act gave “drastic powers to a Government to deal with anybody who deliberate conspired to interfere with trade.”
In a statement to the Press association, Sir Herbert Austin said : “I am not in any way disappointed; in fact, I am very much interested to see in the newspapers that both Mr MacDonald and Mr Snowden are assisting me in bringing to notice of the electors in the country the dangers which will accrue if the McKenna duties and safeguarding measures now in existence are repealed. I consider it my duty, as the head of a big industrial company, to draw the attention of the electors, especially my own workers, to this matter at the present moment, because it would be no use to warn the electors when the damage had been done after the General Election. Then they would wish that they had voted differently.
“I am quite willing to leave to the judgment of the electors, especially those who know me, as to whether the letter I wrote is a blackmailing letter. It was certainly not written with that intention. Every expression I used in the letter was the result of very careful consideration, because I knew it would be attached by those who are anxious to prevent the Conservative Party from taking up the reins of Government again and completing the task which they have so ably begun and carried through in the past four and half years. It most seem rather strange to the electors to read such expressions as those by Mr MacDonald in his speech, particularly the statement that he will not yield to any capitalist intimidation. Happily, we are not living in a country where efforts of that kind would be of any avail at election time.
Austin Seven Car in the USA
Sir Herbert Austin, chairman of the Austin Motor Company, Ltd. announces that an American company has been formed to manufacture the Austin Seven in the United States. This follows on the successful manufacture under licence of the same model car in Germany and France.
Careful survey of the American market, says Sir Herbert Austin, has convinced him that the Austin seven will prove a revelation to the United states, where it will meet with the largest and most discriminating motoring public in the world. the car holds practically the whole of the records for the 750cc class, and has to its credit the hour record of 88.66mph, and for 100 miles at 83.61mph, both of which were made at Brooklands. It holds a record of 56.4 miles on a gallon of fuel.
The car, which will be manufactured in Butler, Pennsylvania, in a works which the American company has contracted to purchase from the Standard Steel Car Company will be identical with the British product, except for the position of the steering wheel and certain other minor alterations necessary to conform with American practice. The financing of the American enterprise has been undertaken by a banking group headed by Bulkey Vallance and Co. New York.
American Austin Car Company INC,
The Company was incorporated on the 28th February 1929 and has bee formed for the purpose of acquiring from the Austin Motor Company Limited Birmingham England, an exclusive Licence to manufacture and sell 7hp austin Motor Cars in the United States, Mexico, Cuba all of North America and all of the possessions subject only to a right reserved to the Austin Motor Company Limited to sell the English manufactured product in Canada.
The said Licence, which is dated 18th May 1929 is for the duration of ten years(subject to termination as therein provided) with the right for the American Company, subject to the terms of the Licence, to require prolongation for a further period of ten years and reserves to the English Company a royalty on all cars produced varying from 2% to 1% on the net selling price as therein defined and is terminable by the English Company if the American Company fails to produce the minimum number of cars therein provided or pay the Licence fee payable on such minimum number.
The sum of £2,000 is payable on the licence taking effect which sum includes the royalty on the first 1,500 cars. In according with a provision of the Licence the American Company granted to the English Company and Sir Herbert Austin jointly by an Agreement dated 18th May 1929 an option exercisable on or before 15th September 1932 of buying a further 50,000 Shares of the Company at the price of $9 per share, such Shares not to be sold for one year from the date of issue.
The Company has allotted to Harry H Stockfield, New York, 25,000 Shares of the Company non-assessable and fully paid and has paid to him in cash $3,200 on or before the 15th September 1931 over a further 25, 000 Shares of the Company at the price of $10.50 per share in consideration of services rendered by the said Harry H Stock in procuring the grant to the Company of the Licence from the English Company above mentioned.
The Company has entered into a Contract with Standard Steel Car Company, a Pennsylvania Corporation, dated 4th June 1929 for the purchase of a factory, the price payable being $250,000 in cash.
24 July 1929 New York
American, Austin Motor Company
Between 250 and 300 thousand shares in the American Austin Motor Company will be offered next week at about $12 per share. The new company, which will have a capital of one million shares of no par value, will acquire the American rights of the Austin Motor Co. Ltd. England. About 63% of the stock will be sold here and the balance in England. Sir Herbert Austin will be a director of the American company.
British Cars Abroad
Sir Herbert Austin's Hopes
Sir Herbert Austin, chairman of theAustin Motor Company, made a statement to The Times yesterday on the difficulties and prospects of British motor car manufacturers in the export markets.
We have continuously fostered the export markets (he said) since the commencement of our, company's operations in 1950, and now that our production is getting into big figures,we have found that this pioneer work in foreign markets is helping us quite a lot. Since the Armistice our efforts in this direction have considerably increased, and to-day our turn-over in those foreign markets amounts to 17% of our total output. One of the favourable points in connexion with the export trade is the fact that the busy season in the Southern Hemisphere comes at a period when our home "markets are usually slack, and therefore, trade in centres like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand help to keep the factory more fully employed during the months of August, September, October, November, and December.
In those countries where the British manufacturer has no preference, such as India, the Federated Malay States and South Africa, competition with American and Continental cars is extremely keen. In Australia and NewZealand, where we have a small preferences, conditions are more favourable, and we should view with considerable alarm the removal of any reduction of these preference in our Dominions. One of the difficulties we have to contend against, in the Dominions is the fact that a large number of American cars are exported via Canada as British Empire productions, and receive a portion at any rate, of the preferential tariff. They also come into this country on a reduced import duty. If these cars were in reality manufactured in Canada we should have no reason to complain, but most of them are only partially made there, the bulk of the work and expense of manufacture being carried out in the United States. As a matter of fact, the present understanding only calls for 25 per cent of the cost to be Canadian, and the other 75 per cent may be all American.
Considerable efforts have been made by manufacturers in this country to have the percentage raised to at least 50, although we think it should be 75. Some hopes have been held out that the matter will receive favourable consideration, but meanwhile the British manufacturer is working at a disadvantage in this respect.
Knowing the value of an export trade in a business such as that of motor car manufacture, which is very largely of a seasonal character, we feel sure the industry in this country would be considerably benefited if more attention was paid by other manufacturers to, export markets. We have no special plans for the future in the export directions, except that the progress in the percentage of export trade that we have made since the Armistice will continue.
05 June 1930
New Austin Cars
There is a now 16 h.p. 6-cylinder Austin with a six-window fabric saloon body the roof of which folds right back and gives the passengers a view as from an open car.
Each of the front seats is adjustable and all six windows are worked mechanically. The equipment includes leather furniture, hide or moquette upholstery, dip. and switch headlamps, roof', ventilator, an improved lug gage carrier, shock absorbers, radiator cowl, a radiator motometer, chromium plating, petrol gauge, wire wheels. The chassis costs £240, and the folding-head saloon £400. The wheel-base and track are 9ft. 4in. and 4ft. 8in., the six cylinder have a capacity, of 2,249 cc. and the brake horse-power at 2,400 rpm. is. stated to be 36. 'The valves are at the side, the-crankshaft runs in eight bearings, there is coil and battery ignition, and water and oil circulation are forced. A single-plate clutch passes the power to a four-speed centrally controlled gearbox, and from there to a three-quarter floating axle with helical bevel gear and a ratio of 5.12 to 1. There are five brakes, with simple adjustment, the steering has a roller worm wheel, and the half-elliptical chassis spring have Silentbloc shackles, zinc-lined leaves, and shock-absorbers. On the 12 hp. 4-cylinder chassis is a Watford four-window fabric saloon; this costs complete as a five-seater £275, the chassis being £187 10s. Here the engine capacity is 1,861 cc., the stated brake horse-power at 2,000 rpm. is 27, the crankshaft runs in five bearings, the back axle ratio is 5.12 also, ignition is by magneto, the wheelbase and track are on the Sixteen. A sports Seven is also made by the Austin Motor Company.
12 January 1931
British Cars Abroad
To the Editor
Sir, Replying to the letter from "Canadian" in your issue of the 9th, I am naturally not prepared to enter into a discussion in the Press of the comparative values of the English, American, German, or French productions of our 7hp car, but there is one outstanding reason why American cars generally are produced and sold at a lower price than the british, and that is that the American production and price are based on the enormous home market, which the American manufacturer has reserved entirely to him by substantial import duties. For instance, the price of the American Bantam car was, I believe, based on the orders received before production commenced of nearly 200,000 which is a bigger figure than all types of cars sold in this country in a year. It is also important to note that the American Bantam car is only a two-seater, a type which is sold in very small quantities in this country.
I am yours faithfully,
For and on behalf of the Austin Motor Company, Ltd.
H Austin, Director Longbridge works, Birmingham
Sir Herbert Austin Designs the seats for Shakespeare Memorial Theatre.
The first theatre was opened in April 1879, but was destroyed by fire on 6th March 1926. It was decided that it should be rebuilt, and a lady architect, Elisabeth Scott was given the job.
How Sir Herbert became involved in designing the seats is unknown. But typical of the inventiveness and design skills of the man, the seats were unusual in that both the seat and arms were mechanically linked so that both tipped up, when the occupant stood up.
The main seat frame was made from cast iron, from which was supported the seat and arm rest. By means of a simple counter-weight both the seat and the armrest would fold against the back, this gave a very wide and free gangway. Compared to the normal construction of seats at the time, these seats contained no springs or hairs. Instead the mohair upholstery was stretched over a moulded block of cellular air cushion rubber, a new form of seating material made direct from rubber latex, the natural milk of the rubber tree. The mouldings were specially made for the job, and differing from ordinary sponge rubber, in that being completely aerated it does not induce perspiration.
A total of 239 seats were in fitted in the stalls in rows 2ft 10ins apart. Of the total, 24 were 21ins wide and the rest 22ins wide. In the Dress Circle the rows were 3ft apart with 232 at 20ins wide and a further 262 at 22ins making a total of 494. If a Royal visits was planned, then fourteen seats at the rear of the Dress Circle would be removed to give more room.
In the Gallery there was seating for 267 on benches in rows 3ft apart but still upholstered using the cellular rubber, this gave a grand total number of 1,000 seats in the theatre.
In 1961 the theatre was renamed "The Royal Shakespeare Memorial Theatre"
2 August 1932
Austin opens new Training School
The modern motor salesman has to be a level-headed, practical man, keen, and above all well informed. Only with these attributes can he give reliable advice to a prospective car buyer. To provide a constant influx to the ranks of Austin salesmen hearing these qualifications is the purpose of a new Austin Sales School recently established at Longbridge. This school has been organised by the Institute of Motor Salesmanship Limited, in conjunction and provides a months extension course of intensive training following the normal three months course on motor salesmanship at the LMS headquarters in London.
At Longbridge young motor salesmen, under the direction of an instructor expert in Austin cars, supplement a general knowledge of their craft with a training in Austin salesmanship. They are given an insight into the constructional features of the cars, methods of manufacture, and the sales organization comprising the Austin Company and its dealers, as well as acquaintance with the history and tradition of the concern. The course includes practical tuition in demonstrating with various models, detail study of the whole range, visits to many parts of the factory, and lectures by Longbridge sales and advertising executives.
That the students may readily become familiar with the leading features of Austin design, display tables are set out in the main classroom on which numerous parts used in the current models are exhibited to emphasize salient features of design with which the Austin salesman should be conversant. Complete units such as gear-boxes, axles, engines, and even whole chassis and bodies are part of the standard equipment of the school, and a projector is employed to show on the screen diagrams or views illustrating various aspects of the instructions given at Longbridge, should help to raised the status of the motor salesman.
31 August 1932
Sir,-In my private capacity as a motor manufacturer, and as a motorist of 40 years'; standing, having a clean record as to accidents, I view with very great interest the efforts now being made by the Government, through its Minister of Transport, to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by users of the roads. In matters of this kind, involving the freedom of millions of people, one must be guided to a large, extent by what has already been accomplished by, and the experience of, such cities as Helsingfors and Paris, for instance. These show that the. elimination of the use of the motor horn has not only reduced the noise, but has also definitely and substantially reduced the accidents, in the case of Helsingfors by more than 50 per cent. during the last four years. In the case of Paris, the regulation was made in order to reduce noise, and in Heisingfors to reduce accidents.
Of course the suppression of the use of the horn will considerably reduce average speed, especially at first, but nevertheless your readers may be assured that there is no section of the community more desirous of reducing accidents on the road than the motor manufacturer. Anything that is humanly possible in this direction will receive our sympathetic support.
For years we have been working on the problem of building silent automobiles, and I assert, without any reservation, that the cars purchased in this country to-day are as silent, if kept in reasonably good repair, as it is possible to expect, and much less noisy than trains, trams, or horse-drawn traffic. I am personally of the opinion that the elimination of the use of, the horn, except in the case of real necessity, should result in a reduction of accidents on our roads.
I am yours faithfully,
Longbridge Works, Birmingham, Aug. 31 1932
26 November 1932
Sir Herbert Austin's Objections
To The Editor
Sir,-l have read with great interest the very able letter which appeared in your columns on October 27 from my friend Sir Harold Bowden, dealing with the industrial situation and advocating, among other palliatives, a shorter working week as a means of improving the unemployment problem.
This suggestion, which has often been put forward, is based upon two fallacies, the first being that the industrial world has over-produced and the second that machines are responsible for the world's unemployment problem.
To suggest that there is over-production in a world where hundreds of millions of people are still begging for ordinary necessities, is to me an acknowledgment of our inability to keep pace with a civilization of our own making. The machine, rather than decreasing employment, has been the means of enormously increasing it, and since the beginning of the machine age--about 1750-industry in Great Britain has produced a living for seven times as many people.
Personally I consider it a dangerous policy, absolutely against national interests, to keep saying there is over-production and that a shorter number of hours should be worked. Of course, we can work fewer hours, but by the same line of argument, why work at all ? Let us establish our lives on a less expensive or less modern basis, just producing sufficient wealth to keep us alive and provide us with the bare necessities. But unfortunately if we attempted to get back to the Stone Age conditions, our difficulties and our problems during the transition would be far greater than those we are experiencing to-day or any we are likely to encounter if we continue on our march towards a higher standard of living.
All this cry of " over-production " unfortunately tends to create in the minds of those workers in employment an impression that the less work they do the better matters will become for their less fortunate fellows. No more destructive doctrine could be devised. If only it were possible to make our trade unions realize that upon the speed and efficiency at which the men in employment work depends the survival of our whole industrial structure, I am sure a great deal of unemployment in this country would disappear.
Longbridge Works, Northfield, Birmingham,
18 July 1933
Possible rise in car prices, and the 20,000th Austin Ten produced.
It is possible that motor-car prices may rise in the near future, and Sir Herbert. Austin recently stated that already certain essential materials used in the manufacture of Austin cars have increased in price by from 5 per cent. to 15 per cent, and knowing to a penny what each car costs the firm to make, they, in common with other manufacturers, may be faced with the alternatives of reducing the quality of their products or raising the prices.
No firm like the Austin Company has really any alternative for the sound British manufacturer has quality of production too near his heart to sacrifice his standard to any appreciable extent for a cut price. There is therefore definitely a possibility of the company's models costing more in the near future, and Sir Herbert Austin says that it is no exaggeration to say that Austin cars have always been real value, though not necessarily the cheapest of their kind, and public demand has fully endorsed the view that mere cheapness is not enough. After all. it is the service a commodity gives that counts in the end. particularly with cars. The motor-buying public has benefited from a remarkable series of price reductions during the past decide, and, for instance, Austin cars to-day, though greatly superior in nearly every respect, cost only half the price asked for them 10 years ago.
The popularity of the 10 horse-power car is evident to all who uses the roads, and an example is the fact that the twenty-thousands Austin Ten Four recently left the factory at Longbridge just 15 months since this model was first introduced to the public. The Austin concern also reports a total sales record for last June with a 22 per cent. increase over June, 1932, in spite of the fact that this year the Whitsuntide holiday was included in the period in question.
19 November 1933
Competition From Japan
To The Editor
Sir,--On various occasions I have referred to the difficulties British industry may have to face in the future from Japanese competition in world markets, and the enclosed extracts taken from a letter I have received from a friend at present in Japan, who has had some 30 years' experience of the country, do nothing to dispel my apprehensions of the situation.I have seen a good deal recently in the English Press of unfair Japanese competition, and much has been written of the low standard of living of the Japanese working classes, and of conditions in factories and mills. for the most part it is without foundation. True, the standard of living is below that of Britain, you cannot change a nation in a decade front the frugal standards of centuries of living, but all the Japanese live well according to their own standards. They are well fed, they are well clothed, they are strong and healthy, and they are multiplying at the rate of more than 1,000,000 year.
The stamina of the people is very high because nearly every school child of both sexes engages in athletics of some kind or other. They excel in many sports. This year several world's records have been beaten by the Japanese in swimming and running. At tennis they have champions. At Rugby they beat the crack team from Canada. At boxing recently the best fighters of 17 ships of the British Fleet failed to register a win against the Jap boxers, though the latter are shorter and fitter. In fact, there were half a dozen British boxers " knocked out " by the Japs.
The real reason for the success of the Japs is the fact that they are thorough in all they undertake. They investigate everything. They are taught to dig and delve into every subject until they have mastered it. In school, college, university, and in commerce they are constantly inquiring and never giving up until they know. Their investigations are continued throughout their lives. Abroad, in all countries you will find the Japanese student always a student, never posing as knowing anything, but always seeking to increase knowledge.
It is, however, in the commercial world where theJapanese are a present-power and a possible greater menace. Lancashire is crying out to-day and Yorkshire will be crying put tomorrow. I have seen woollen goods here, manufactured goods sold at a cost below what we pay for the spun wool in England. Its new to see wool in Japan. It has only developed these last few years, but Japan was Australia's biggest buyer last year and her exports are already assuming size. Every village now has wools for sale for knitting and many shops display knitted goods. I saw some worsted cloth some days ago which I could not distinguish from West of England weaving. This is the product of one weaving centre only as yet, but it will develop, and Yorkshire will feel the effect of the competition.
In cotton spinning there is a mill, true it is a demonstration mill, run by the maker of the looms, where one girl tends 38 looms! This, is an absolute fact.There are thousands of looms running where the girls tend over 20 each. The operatives are young. at their, very brightest from, say, 14 to 23, and then they leave to get married. The cotton mills always have new fresh vigour to run their machinery, not, as in many English mills, with operatives who have worked on the same looms and frames, in cases I know quite 50 years.
You read of the awful conditions of the Japanese workpeople, but it is mostly false. The cotton operatives have fine living quarters, artistic garden surrounding, and recreation centres with concert rooms and theatre all free. Each month an excursion is given to them to some historic point of interest, and they are taught concerning those places, thus providing education in an attractive form.
In heavy engineering we may soon see Japan as a power to be reckoned with. There is a project for a steel works near Kobe where the pig iron to be exported from Manchuria will be refined and converted.A harbour is to be dredged, giving a channel at any state of the tide, and the furnace will occupy some500 acres. The land has been acquired and already the foreshore is being reclaimed. There was infinite wisdom if nothing else in Japan’s "Assistance to Manchuria to control her future destiny." Some of the finest coal and iron ore in the world, and also gold, in Manchuria.
It has become suddenly cold in Japan, and I entered a department store yesterday to buy a pair of gloves.I selected a dark brown pair of deerskin, very well made and quite up to the standard of a 7s. 6d. Pair inBirmingham, though perhaps not, as flaring as the lemon-coloured guinea pairs we sometimes see. They are good quality and most serviceable. and the price was 95 sen, At to-day's rate of exchange 1s. 1d!
The sooner we realize that Japan is going to come into our markets even in face of heavy duties the sooner we find some means of improving our own methods of production.
Aesthetically, perhaps, Japan may be deteriorating.Her superb craftsmanship in many of the arts is dying.I see this in the old galleries where art can sometimes be purchased. She is becoming modernized. Speaking with old acquaintances in art curio circles, they deplored the lack of pride in art craftsmanship, the desire of youth to become commercially successful.
Longbridge Works. Northfield, Birmingham,
9 April 1934
To The Editor
Sir, l have received an interesting letter from a correspondent in Pondoland, South Africa, in which he brings to my notice the harm that is being done to British exports, trade by people at home who still consider that the British motorcar is not designed for service overseas. He cites an incident of a doctor who recently arrived in Pondoland straight from England and took with him a car of a well-known American make. The doctor stated that he had previously owned two British cars, but before leaving home had been advised by friends to sell these and take with him an American car. as British cars were not suitable for African conditions.
My correspondent points out that British cars are considered highly dependable and most suitable for the work they have to perform in that part of Africa, and goes on to say that it seems ironical that while those on the spot are doing all they can to further British business some people at home, through lack of knowledge, are taking such an opposite course.
The Austin Motor Company are doing a big export trade with the Colonies, and our experience bas proved that British cars under difficult conditions are just as satisfactory as cars from any other part of the world.
Longbridge Works, Northfield, Birmingham. April 5-1934
Austin progress over the years
Every year competition in the British motor industry becomes more severe, and every year more efficient machinery, better factory equipment and organization, and more rapidly productive methods of manufacture are devised to help those taking part in the enterprise. A survey of some outstanding motor works and of the activities of some manufacturers made with these facts in mind has produced the substance of this article, attention being focused generally upon production rather than upon the product.
The original Austin factory at Longbridge occupied two and a half acres, and when work was in full swing could produce 120 cars a year. There were about 270 workers. The first Austin car appeared early in 1906 and was a 4-cylinder tourer of 25/30 horse-power. This model showed a great improvement over the first Austin design of 1895 a three-wheeler with a horizontal single-cylinder engine or even that of 1900. To-day the normal output at Longbridge approaches 2,000 cars a week, in the manufacture of which nearly 20,000 workers are directly employed and about 130,000 indirectly. The factory has a road frontage of over a mile and occupies 100 acres: To arrive at this standard it has been necessary to spend over £2,500,000 on extensions and new plant.
Since 1922 prices of Austin cars have been halved, although quality and performance have been improved out of all recognition. There 'are many highly efficient and ingenious testing methods used in the factory, but here I propose to illustrate briefly the thoroughness of trying out new models before big production is started. Each of the new models for 1937 was tested over a strenuous route in the Swiss Alps by the Austin designers. The cars concerned were the new Seven, Ten, Twelve, and Fourteen saloons; and the Austin Eighteen. Particular attention was paid to power development at high altitudes, cooling and induction efficiency on prolonged climbs, and, the general stability of the new chassis designed with long springs of low periodicity, new steering gear, Girling brakes, and low-pressure tyres. The route, taken covered approximately 3,000 miles and include many famous Alpine passes, such as the Klausen, St. Gotthsard, Furka, Oderalp, and Grimsel, on which the designers made care test of all aspects of the performance of the new models.
These trials were made at a time of year when maximum temperatures might be expected and consequently proved the suitability of the new Austin for Alpine touring at high altitudes. Motorist who are familiar with the passes and know the hairpin bends and long gradients on them will be able to appreciate the strenuous nature of the trials, in which the cars were never spared. Altogether apart from many climbs en route, the tests involved an aggregate ascent for the five cars of approximately 250,000. The outward and return journeys through France and Switzerland also provided an opportunity to study the behaviour of the cars when used for fast long distance touring. Incidentally, before the cars left Switzerland a number of order for the mew models were received from the Austin distributors in Berne, Zurich, and LucerneIt is stated that the demand for Austin cars is five times as great as that of a year ago, and that a big speed-up in production at the Longbridge factory has begun.
14 February 1936
Austin Motor Factory Extension
The Austin Motor Company announced a big extension - scheme and centralisation of all departments in one factory. The directors a few days. ago authorized the expenditure of £399,000 in the creation of additional buildings and, the purchase of plant and equipment. This expenditure will give the Longbridge Works a big increase in productive capacity, and should result in lower manufacturing costs.
23 April 1936
It is estimated that the new aircraft factory to be erected by the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge will cost some £300,000 to complete. The works will employ between 5,000 and 6,000 persons. Plans for the structure have now been provisionally approved by Bromsrove Rural District Council, and a considerable area of land is to be acquired. Actually the site is in Cofton Hackett parish, and since this forms part of a residential zoning area, the plans are subject to rezoning. The Bromsgrove Rural Council were informed that the site, in a valley, would render the buildings unobtrusive, and national needs and employment were considered of prime importance.
31 August 1936
Plans for the Austin Aircraft Factory
It is expected that production will begin next July at the new aircraft factory undertaken by the Austin Motor Company, Limited, on behalf of the Air Ministry. From now onwards the work of preparing the site will be carried on by night as well as by day. Some 25 acres have been acquired at Cofton Hackett, East of Longbridge Motor Works, and it is estimated that 180,000 cubic feet of soil will have to be excavated. High ground will be removed and taken to a low-lying area which is adjacent. This levering alone will take several weeks. Both Lowhill Lane and Groveley Lane, approaches to the site, are to be converted into first-class roads with separate tracks for cyclists, and a special siding will connect the works with the main Birmingham to Bristol line. Plans for the factory provide for a single-storey building, 15,000ft. long and 450ft. wide, with a floor space of 20 acres. The offices and canteen will form a three-storey block. There will be ample window space and the whole factory will be air-conditioned.
22 October 1936
It is stated that the demand for Austin cars is five times as great as that of a year ago, and that a big speed-up in production at the Longbridge factory has been begun. The Austin Export Department also reports record contracts. Six new body presses are being installed, ranging up to 500 tons, and additional body assembling lines are already in full operation. Two new finishing lines have also been laid down, making a total of seven, to provide a production capacity of 60 vehicles an hour. The Longbridge factory employs 19,000 workers at present, and will probably soon employ about 25,000. Further extensions to the works are being made.
10 March 1938
The King visits Austin Shadow Factory
The King has visited to-day five of the shadow factories engaged in aircraft production for the Government. To the inexpert mind there would seem to be little shadow about it and much substance-endless miles, that is. of machines unceasingly at work turning rough steel into highly finished parts.
For the King it has been a strenuous day, impressive in the vast picture of organized industry it has unfolded. It has been throughout a day of interest, mainly in seeing a great variety of mechanical processes and occasionally in learning of sonic skilled operator having come into this active branch of industry from the depression of the special areas. There was, too, one, brief interlude irrelevant to the plans of immediate aircraft production when the King enjoyed seeing the first motor-car owned by his grandfather, King Edward VIl, and enjoyed still more a short ride in it driven by a chauffeur who had served King Edward. This royal visit has been a private occasion in that it has been free from civic and other formal ceremonies.
The King arrived at Birmingham last night and the royal train remained at a siding This morning it drew in to the siding of the Austin factory at Longbridge. and the King was received by Lord Austin, chairman of the Austin Motor Company, Limited. and others connected with the firm.
Airframes and Engines
The Austin factory, for the manufacture of airframes and aero-engines, covers 15 acres of ground. Production is in hand on about 75per cent. of the various components of'Fairy Battle’ aircraft, and in the aero-engine section crankshafts, reduction gears, oil supply,and controls for VP airscrews are being manufactured for the Bristol "Mercury VIII"engine. The first process which the King watched was the blanking of main plane ribs in a 350-ton hydraulic press. From that he went on to see the assembly of fuselage and the welding of fuel tanks. The assembly of wing ribs was watched with special interest by the King, who spoke to some of the men about their work. In the engine section of the factory propeller tests were in progress, and those who looked on were provided with cotton wool to deaden the terrific noise in their cars. As he left the factory the King was cheered with great enthusiasm by the vast crowd of workers who had gathered at the main entrance.
19 May 1938
Lord Austin views on the roads.
Delegates from every glass-making centre in the country were present at Droitwich Spa to-day for the fifth British Glass Convention, which will continue until Saturday. Lord Austin, who was the guest of honour at the official luncheon, said that the roads to-day were quite inadequate for the fast-developing motor traffic. We were using roads made for horse traffic. Successive Governments have betrayed the motoring interests. taxed them heavily, and diverted the money into other channels. We were approaching the time when arterial roads, aerial or under-ground, would be needed as much as great highways running through and round the suburbs. Lord Austin described the staggering, of hours at Longbridge and said staggering holidays were bound to come.
25 April 1945
£1m Longbridge Investment
To facilitate the production of motor vehicles to meet demands after the war, the Austin Motor Company yesterday voted an expenditure of £1,000,000 on new machinery, production equipment, and constructional work at the company's Longbridge factory.
4 February 1947
Mr Wilmots Promise at Westminster
Mr John Wilmot, the Minister of Supply, was asked in the House of Commons this afternoon what steps he was taking to avert a protracted shut-down of the Austin Motor Works. He said that available supplies of fuel were being distributed on the basisIs of a general allocation system to industrial concern. He regretted that it was not possible to give a preferential allocation to the Austin Motor Company.
In the course of the brisk cross-examination which followed he assured Mr Blackburn, who had asked the original question, that if it could be shown that the whole basis of the allocation of coal to Austin under the Cripps plan was unworkable he would consider revising the allocation.
The following was issued later from the Ministry of Supply:-
Mr Raymond Blackburn, MP., and some representatives from the Austin Motor Company called upon Mr John Wilmot, the Minister of Supply today to produced some figures designed to show that the fuel allocation to the company was not sufficient to enable them to carry on. The Minister promised to consider these figures.
Because of the fuel shortage work will cease at the Longbridge factory when the night shift leaves at 5.30 am to-morrow. Notice to this effect were posted at the works to-day.
A statement signed by the chairman, Mr. LP Lord, empresses regret at the necessity for the step taken. No indication is given as to the probable duration of the stoppage.
Referring to the question of the guaranteed week of 34 hours, the statement says: “In our case, if every one engaged on production were suspended the guaranteed week would cost about £1,100 per hour, or £37,400 per week. Obviously heavy payments of this kind cannot continue for more than one or at the most two weeks.”
“We trust that somewhere arrangements will be made for us to start up again before you feel that you must seek employment elsewhere or before we are obliged to give you notice that we must stop payment of the guaranteed week.”
The statement added that the office and administrative workers would not be affected.
Austin to Reopen
This was because of the big freeze 1947
The Austin Motor Company, who four weeks ago closed their factory at Longbridge, Birmingham, because of shortage of fuel, announced yesterday that they will reopen on Tuesday 4 March.
Mr L P Lord chairman of the company, said they had been informed that their allocation of coal had been rectified, which brought them in line with other manufactures. They could not gauge exactly how many days they would be able to work, so for next week they proposed to open Tuesday Wednesday and Thursdays only.
18 June 1948
100,000 Austin's for Export
The 100,000th Austin vehicle made for export since the war came off the assemble line at Longbridge yesterday The value of Austin cars, commercial vehicles, and parts exported in the three years since the factory was converted from war service to peace-time manufacture has now reached £30m. Austin are making vehicles for export at the rate of 75,00 to 80,00 a year, and the output is still rising.
9 August 1948
Austin's Paint Finishing Line
The Austin Motor Company plans to enlarge its synthetic paint-finishing plant at Longbridge in view of the success of the plant now operating. This process at present used for the A40 model, is largely replacing cellulose paint finishing because subsequent polishing is not required.
The paint is sprayed on the car bodies in a room, where the air is filtered and kept at a temperature of 80deg. F. and a relative humidity of 65 per cent. After spraying the bodies are passed twice through a 200ft tunnel, in which the paint is dried by indirect air heated by gas to 260deg.
10 September 1948
Hampshire Saloon and Sports 4-seater
The range of Austin cars has been completed by the addition of two new models, a medium-size saloon and a sports four-seater with a drop-head convertible body. The saloon has the 2,199c.c. overhead valve engine used in the present " Sixteen " (which will be retained in the range for some time to come), and in accordance with the new Austin nomenclature it is called the A70 Hampshire saloon. In frontal appearance it is similar to the popular A40, with the line of the front wings carried through to the back. The rear window is curved, and the luggage boot slopes down to a massive " wrap-round " bumper. A gear ]ever on the steering column enables three persons to travel on the two flush-fitting front seats.
The equipment includes a heating and de-misting unit, and provision is made for fitting a radio at extra cost. Mechanical details include a 4-speed gearbox and independent front suspension with coil springs. The engine
develops 64 b.h.p. and the saloon weighs 24cwt. The home price of the Hampshire is £475, plus £132 purchase tax.
More Advanced Design
The A90 Atlantic is a striking looking sports car which is evidently intended to attract United States motorists. It has a " custom-built " body with a frontal appearance different from the other cars in the range; it is more advanced in design with horizontal air vents, a central recessed spot-light, and built-in, flashing traffic indicators of the American pattern. The rear wheels are enclosed. A notable feature is the push-button control of the folding head and the windows, the first time this has been incorporated in a standard British car, The
2,660c.c. 4-cylinder, overhead-valve engine has two carburettors and develops 88 b.h.p. at 4,000 rpm.
The complete car weighs 25cwt. Three passengers can be carried in front and two on the occasional seat at the rear. As on the other new Austin models, the front wheels are independently sprung by coil springs. The A90
Atlantic convertible is priced at £745, plus £207 purchase tax.
These new models have been shown simultaneously this week to British dealers at Longbridge and at the Canadian national exhibition in Toronto. They will be on view in a fortnight's time in New York and San Francisco.
7 October 1948
Nuffield Group and Austin, Pooling of Factory Resources
The following joint announcement was made last night by the Nuffield Organization and the Austin Motor Company: Lord Nuffield and Mr. L. P. Lord have recently had a series of talks which have resulted in an announcement whereby there is to be a constant interchange of information on production methods, costs, purchases, design and research, patents, and all other items which would be likely to result in manufacturing economies. "' The object is to effect maximum standardization coupled with the most efficient manufacture and, by the pooling of all factory resources, a consequence reduction of costs."
Mr. Lord, who joined the Austin Motor Company in 1938 as works director, became chairman and managing & director of the company three years ago. He was formerly managing director of the Morris group of motor companies owned by Lord Nuffield, from which post be resigned in 1936.
The Austin works are at Longbridge, Birmingham. The Nuffield Organization comprises 13 companies. Morris Motors Limited, the parent company, owns freehold factories at Cowley, Oxford, Coventry, and Birmingham and leasehold factories at Coventry and Abingdon-on-Thames. It is understood that the interchange between the two organizations is to begin immediately.
13 January 1949
British Taxi-Cabs in USA.
The manoeuvrability and compactness of small British cars, already appreciated by private motorists in the United States, is now being recognized by taxi-cabs operators. The Public Utilities Commission has approved the use of the Austin A40 devon saloon as a taxi-cab in Washington, DC.
A final analysis of the production figures of the Longbridge factory at Birmingham shows that 285 Austin vehicles of all types were exported every working day during 1948.
23 February 1949
Obituary Capt. Neville Stack
Captain T Neville Stack, AFC., who in the period between the wars was one of the leading British pioneers in long distance aviation, was, killed yesterday, in a, road accident near Karachi, according to Reuter. He was 52.
Thomas Neville Stack was born on April 1, 1896, and was educated at St. Edmund's; College. He joined the Army in 1914 and three Years later transferred to the RFC. and served with 212 Squadron. After demobilization he worked as an instructor at the London and Provincial Aviation Company until 1921 when
he rejoined the RAF. and served in Iraq and elsewhere until 1925, when he returned to civilian life and joined the Lancashire Aero Club as chief instructor. In company with Mr. D. S. Leete he made the first light aircraft flight from England to India from. November 15, 1926, to January 8, 1927, and afterwards made a number of flights between European capitals.
A little later be became air superintendent and chief pilot of National Flying Services and in 1938 chief test pilot at the Austin Aircraft Works at Longbridge near Birmingham. For some time during the 1939-45 war he was air adviser at the War Office and later in the war was commissioned in the Fleet Air Arm. After Commanding squadrons, he was appointed Staff. Air Transport Officer to the Flag Officer (Air), East Indies. After the war he was general manager of Hunting Air Travel Limited and last May was appointed manager of the new Pakistan Airways.
10 January 1951
Steel Shortage Hits Car Production
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders announced yesterday that the production of vehicles, chiefly motor-cars, might be cut by 15 to 20 per cent this quarter and that from Monday many companies would be able to work only a four day week. Two causes are given for this drastic reduction a fall in imports of sheet steel and the effects of the rearmament programme, which have combined to reduce the allocation of sheet steel to the industry this quarter by 15 to 20 per cent. The initial announcement of the society was received with some surprise in the industry, especially the statement "that many companies would be able to work only four days a week from Monday. Several companies denied any intention of reducing working hours through out their factories next week, and the society issued A second statement pointing out that some companies may have enough steel in stock to carry them through for the present. The seriousness of the position is seen in the decission of the Pressed Steel Company to cut down all department using sheet steel, including body making, to four days a week. The motor companies most affected by this move are Austin, Nuffield, and Rootes, who expect a reduction of 20 per cent. in the supply of motor-car bodies. Factories which have their own press shops will eventually suffer a similar reduction in output.
Mr Lord's Denials
The difficult reorganization facing motor manufacturers was described by Mr. Leonard P. Lord, chairman and managing director of Austin, who stated that if complete body building and finishing was to be curtailed, extra quantities of other Austin products must be made. and the building of complete. bodies overseas increased in order to maintain the maximum employment at the Longbridge factory. Mr. Lord denied emphatically that the total Austin output would be reduced by 20 per cent, or that the whole factory would be cut to a four-day week. During the first week the body assembly and finishing shops would probably be reduced to four days a week, but it hoped to continue normal working in rest of the factory.
19 July 1951
New Car Assemble Plant (CAB 1)
A new building for assembling Austin cars was opened to-day at Longbridge by Mr. Strauss, Minister of Supply. It is said to contain the most advanced motor assembly layout in the world, and is an important step in the reorganization of the Austin factory. Components such as engines. axles, and completely trimmed bodies are not touched by hand from the time they leave their respective manufacturing buildings on conveyors until they are placed in position on the chassis as these move along the assembly line. The chassis itself operates a switch and calls forward the requisite component, which is dropped into place automatically. The components reach the new assembly hall from the manufacturing shops by way of a new 1,000ft. tunnel, at the end of which they are sorted automatically into the proper channels for the various assembly lines. They emerge from underground at the required points in the new building, which has a capacity of 4,000 vehicles a week.
26 November 1953
The two millionth vehicle left the Austin factory at Longbridge yesterday.
1 Jan 1954
Leonard Percy Lord became KBE.
The Austin Company announced a new Twelve which, with its roominess and full equipment, should prove a popular family car. The moulded steel body has two large seats in front which are tension sprung to prevent roll, and the back seat is planned to take three passengers.
The extension formed by the back panel when let down will take 1cwt. of extra luggage, and the size of the boot allows four sets of golf clubs to be taken. There is a separate compartment for the spare wheel, and the number plate is behind glass and has concealed lighting. The electrical equipment is 12 volt.
The dip and switch for the headlamps is worked by the foot, the direction indicators have automatic return, and there are remote drive dual screen wipers. The model can be had with a fixed head or with a sliding roof. There are two sun visors, hand slings, and so forth, while the sliding head model has window louvres and a centre arm-rest. A radio set and air-conditioning equipment can be fitted at additional cost. The air conditioning plant works from the engine cooling system and supplies warm air to the inside, of the car in cool weather or cool, filtered air in the summer. There are ducts in the instrument panel in order to allow heated air to be directed on to the screen in time of frost or in moist weather when mist might form on the inner side of the screen. Permanent hydraulic jacking can also be had.
The 4-cylinder engine, of 1,535 c.c. capacity, is flexibly mounted to avoid vibration being passed on. It is of the side-valve type. The driver has four forward speeds at his disposal, and there is synchromesh on second, third, and top to make direct changes of gear simple-and quiet in operation. The braking is on the Girling system - the suspension is half elliptical with double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers and torsion-bar stabilizers which offer resistance to rolling; there is a large flexible steering wheel. The overall length and width of this Twelve do not call for exceptional garage space, being 14ft. 3in. and 5ft. 8in. The price of the model with the fixed head is £225 ; the sliding head one £235.
12 February 1954
Nash Cars Made By Austin
The first fruits of the agreement reached in October 1952, between the Austin Motor Co. and the Nash company of the United States, whereby a small Nash car designed for the North American market is to be made in Britain, can now be seen on the roads leading from the Austin factory at Longbridge Birmingham, to the docks. Big transporters, carrying up to six brightly painted little cars bearing the name Nash on the spare wheel cover,. arouse the curiosity of passing motorists as the pipe-line is filled with stocks for the distributors and dealers throughout the United States and Canada.
No details of the car, beyond the initial information that it would have an Austin A40 engine and a body made by Fisher and Ludlow, have yet been given, but an official announcement of its specification and price is expected next month. It will not be sold in this country.
10 July 1955
2,320,000 Austin Vehicles made in 50 years
The Austin Motor Company to-day employed more than 20,000 people, who produced more than 120 vehicles every working hour, said Sir Leonard Lord, chairman and managing director, when he started the jubilee celebrations of the firm at Longbridge, Birmingham, yesterday. He said that 50 years ago, when me Longbridge factory was started by Herbert Austin, it employed fewer than 250 people and in the first year produced 120 vehicles. More than 2,320,000 cars and commercial vehicles had been produced in the 50 years.
Mr. Harry Austin, aged 78, brother of the founder, unveiled a plaque. 30ft. high in memory of his brother.
Austin distributors from the Commonwealth countries and from the Continent, and most of the 20,000 employees with their families attended the celebrations.
The final event, a cavalcade of Austin cars from 1908 to the present day, contained the gas turbine-engined Austin Sheerline, which was announced last August but has not previously been shown to the public. A spokesman for the company decided they were not yet ready to market a gas turbine car.
The Fourth Annual General Meeting of The British Motor Corporation was held yesterday at Longbridge works Birmingham. Sir Leonard Lord KBE, chairman and managing director, presided.
Once more may I say " Welcome to Longbridge," particularly as this is the golden jubilee year of The Austin Motor Company. For those of you who art old friends of The Austin Motor Company the meeting to-day must be tinged with a certain feeling of regret, because this is the last time we shall hold our meetings in this room. Next month this building will be handed over to the contractors for demolition. A new and more modern showroom is being built near the. car assembly building, and on this site a large engineering and research block will be erected.
It is usual for me to extend to you an invitation to look round the factory after the meeting. If you do so to-day you will see that we are still installing masses of new machinery, and you will notice very considerable building activity. I hope you regard this as a good augury for the future.
From the accounts which you have seen no doubt you have drawn the conclusion that the year has been a good one, and I am sure you will consider the results satisfactory. Our thanks are due once more to all our employees, whatever their degree of responsibility, at home and perhaps particularly those abroad, because year by year their contribution is becoming greater and more important.
The complete range of models now on sale from The British Motor Corporation reflects the development and standardisation which is taking place, although the process is by no means finished. At our meeting last year I devoted much of my statement to explaining our future plans and to outlining the progress we bad made since the merger of Austin and Morris in 1952.
1 am pleased to be able to tell you that we have kept well up to the schedule we set. I said that by the spring of this year over-all output would be 10,000 vehicles a week plus spares. This figure was in fact exceeded by a hundred or so a week.
I said also that further expansion plans had been approved by your board to raise production to 12,500 a week by midsummer 1956. Present indications are that this will be done, but although the new buildings are up to schedule some difficulties are being encountered with the supply of the now machinery we must have.
At the moment we are ahead in what is called " Automation " but new methods of production are continually being introduced all over the world. Comparatively new machinery tends to become obsolete before it is even partially worn out, with the result that replacements expenditure must continue to grow.
I told you last year that many millions had been provided for capital expenditure by the ploughing back of profits. A comparatively small amount of fresh capital was raised last year and you will see from the accounts that this has helped to improve our liquid position. During the year under review the production of the British Motor Corporation was 418.705 vehicles, against 353,834 for the previous year, an increase of 18 per cent.
Increased output of vehicles spares obviously necessitates increased sales effort, particularly abroad. It is certainly a fact that we must export to live. and motor vehicles are among the most important of British exports.
The question in many minds now is can the planned expanding output of the motor industry be sold, as if the home market contracts by reason of taxation or saturation can the export market take the balance? "As far as The British Motor Corporation is concerned I believe the answer to be 'Yes,' but I do not minimise the difficulties . We have to contend with the growing strength of foreign competition and the adverse continually rising costs of wages and materials. Any further increases of wages anywhere in this country must therefore be accompanied by an equivalent increase in efficiency and greater output.
You will have seen from the Press that rising costs have forced many manufactures to increase their selling prices. We have decided to maintain ours at present levels as long as possible. This means that the savings we have made by improved methods and the installation of high-production machinery are being passed on to our customers, although these savings have not been sufficient to cover the rise in costs.
We are subject to the same increases in cost as other manufactures; perhaps they are more important in our case as our basic specifications are higher than most others. We know that we offer better "value for money" became of the excellent of our manufacturing equipment, the volume of our production, and the extent of our purchases.
In taking the decision to leave our prices unaltered we had in mind the possible savings from the increased production which is planned from the factories between now and the summer of next year. Thus whilst we are prepared to forgo some of our profit in the early stages it is obvious that if production does not rise and costs of supplies do increase we shall have to raise our prices.
New Models and Developments
During the year we introduced a range of new models, all of which have been very well received.
They comprise BMC diesel engines, a new MGA sports car, the Morris Isis, and a complete range known as the "Series III" commercial vehicles for both Morris and Austin. In addition an automatic gearbox is now fitted on the Austin "Princess" and overdrive as an extra on some of the smaller models.
The British motor Industry is sometimes accused of lack of foresight and of hesitating to introduce new models of advanced design, leading to the suggestion that for this reason it is likely to lose sales to its foreign competitors. I do not believe that our motor industry is resting on its laurels, but of course no manufacture is prepared to disclose his future plans.
I cannot let this meeting pass without a further reference to the home market and the suggested possibility of saturation. This will not come became of lack of demand. It is more likely to arise from the irritations caused by the delays on our archaic roads and the inescapable effect which such delays have on the costs of every industry in Great Britain.
Year by year I mention our expansion programmes overseas.
The plant in Cape Town is now running very satisfactorily indeed, both for quality and cost, and we are in a position to take advantage immediately of any increased quotas which may be made available by the Government of South Africa.
In Australia the installation of the most advanced type of automatic machinery for engine and transmission production at the rate of 50,000 a year is proceeding, and should be completed during 1956. In addition plans have been place and expenditure approved for a new car assembly building and paint plant at Victoria Park, Sydney, to handle complete cars at the same rate. On the same site we are also making a start on the buildings for a large press plant for our subsidiary, Fisher and Ludlow.
Thus finally we shall have a complete factory at Victoria Park for the production of pressings, the manufacture of engines and the assembly, painting, finishing and dispatch of cars and commercial vehicle.
At this stage our investment in this plant alone will be between £4,500,000 and £5,000.000.
The British motor industry is frequently criticised in the press for lack of spares abroad This certainly is not true in the case of your company. We have never opened up a new:market nor shipped new models of any kind anywhere in the world before we have sent to that territory sufficient spares to give service within 24 hours.
The production of both current and obsolete spares is rapidly increasing and a much more ample supply of spares of every kind is now available. Extensive new buildings have been put up at Cowley to copt with the extra volume and additional staff is being engaged both in the factories and on the sales and distributive.
There is no doubt that competition has become very much more severe in the last year and it will continue to do so. We have taken a chance in our selling prices at their present levels. This, as I have already pointed out, could mean reduced profits. Therefore, whilst I have tittle doubt that we shall be able to sell our output, including a proper proportion of it abroad, it would be unreasonable to expect profits in the current year to be higher than those disclosed for the year under review; in fact, despite increased turnover they could conceivably be somewhat lower.
Our objective is always efficiency coupled with the maximum rate of production. This enables us to offer the lowest possible selling prices consistent with high quality and dependable design and construction. We know this is the only way to continued success, and so with the willing help of our suppliers and employees all over the world we look forward to the future with confidence.
100m Dollar Orders for BMC Cars
Mr. Lester Suffield, British Motor Corporation managing director of North American markets, said at the Motor Show in London yesterday that orders from distributors and dealers in all transatlantic dollar areas totalled $100m., representing 75,000 cars, for 1959. The cars are Austin A40 and A55, Austin Healey, Morris Minor, and M.G.
The sum did not include the further $15m. earned by the sale of the Nash Metropolitan manufactured at Longbridge and marketed independently by the American Motor Corporation. The combined orders are worth over £4lm.
04 Oct 1960
Cofton Green Belt
An objection made by the British Motor Corporation to the Worcestershire County Council’s green belt proposals was settled today by agreement when the public inquiry into the proposals was continued at the Shire.
Mr. Eric Blain, who appeared for the BMC. suggested that a disputed area of some 46 acres at Cofton Hackett should be allowed to remain in the green belt on condition it was agreed that special consideration should be given if this land was needed for "the reasonable requirements of expansion" of the neighbouring Austin motor works.
Mr. J. P. Widgery, for the county council accepted the suggested postponement of the issue, and others who had entered objections to the BMC. scheme accepted with reluctance that this was a possible basis of settlement.
Opening the case for the BMC. Mr. Blain said that if the 46 acres were included in the green belt the future development of the Austin works would be jeopardized if not positively prevented. There was almost a firm commercial programme for this land and the factory it was hoped to build would be a vital link in the chain of national prosperity.
The Production of vehicles at the Longbridge works had risen to 324,000 last year. This was half the corporation’s total output and the expansion programme envisaged that a million vehicles a year would be turned out by the BMC. half of them at Longbridge, and that the value of exports would rise from a present figure of £128m. per annum to £220m.
Many of the present buildings at Longbridge were out of date and a big rebuilding programme, faced the BMC. together with the need to increase parking, space for employees’ cars. Mr. Blain emphasised that a settlement along the lines he had suggested would leave the BMC. the county council and those local interests that were objecting with the same rights if the corporation in future submitted a plan for a new factory.
Mr. Widgery said he must warn that the county council would still feel that Cofton was not the right place for a car factory because of the adjoining beauty spots of !he Lickey Hills and Upper Bittell reservoir. Mr. Philip Cox, who appeared on behalf of the Barnt Green Fishing Club, said they felt that by the proposed delay they had been manoeuvred into a position where their objection became weaker.
Mr. F. Blennerhassett said that a protection committee formed by residents of Cofton agreed that the matter be adjourned but felt there should be no special provision made for industry to come nearer their homes.
Professor P. Sargant Florence, chairman of the Midlands New Towns Society, said that industry ought to be encouraged to go into new towns that should be built beyond the green belt.
07 April 1965
Commercial Showroom (Elephant House)
Having chalked up a record earning of nearly £330m. in foreign exchange by their exports of commercial vehicles since the war, the British Motor Corporation today opened what they have named a " Showcase for export " at their headquarters here.
A massive, multi-faceted, circular, glass and concrete building, 38ft. high and standing 30ft. above road level, it is crowned by a dome 100ft. in diameter, and is sited near the corporation's multi-storey car park, which has a capacity of 3,300 vehicles. The new hall will provide the first permanent display of the full BMC. range of Austin and Morris vans and lorries. Designed by Harry W. Weedon and Partners, the corporation's architects, it embodies a vast, well-lit floor space, with a capacity of between 30 and 40 vehicles, the whole exhibition area having minimum obstruction by columns.
Since 1945 BMC. have produced well over 1,900,000 Austin and Morris commercial vehicles and during 1964 they accounted for more than 52 per cent of the main British manufacturers' light commercial vehicle production and 22 per cent of truck production. In Western Europe nearly 220.000 BMC. vans, pick-ups and trucks have been sold since 1945, increasing the corporation's share of total commercial vehicle exports to some 30 per cent. Current BMC. commercial vehicle output is running at 3,100 units a week.
In 1961 a new £11,250,000 factory was opened at Bathgate, Scotland, to take over the corporation's heavy commercial vehicle and tractor production. and today the 5,100 workers at this plant produce all BMC.'s heavy vehicles, from 1.5 to 8ton lorries and 12 and 18-ton prime movers. Current Austin and Morris commercial vehicles range between payload capacities of 5cwt. and 13 tons, in engine capacities from 848 c.c. to 5,657 c.c., and prices from £380 to £l,900.
Today's opening ceremony of the new commercial vehicle exhibition hall was performed by Sir Richard Powell, Permanent Secretary, Board of Trade.
27 September 1966
BMC to Dismiss over 10,000
Angry protests over the announcement from BMC. today that between 10 and 11 per cent of their total labour force of 109,000 are to be dismissed can be expected throughout the Midlands.
Shop stewards were given details of the redundancies in individual factories today. The notices will go out on October 10 to expire on November 4. Thirty-eight thousand BMC. workers are already on short-time.
No overall details of where the redundancies will take place have yet been released. but a shop steward at the Birmingham works of Morris Commercial Cars said 900 of the 2,600 men there were going.
Shop stewards meet.
Senior BMC. shop stewards and Midlands members of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions will be discussing the latest developments at a joint meeting tomorrow.
The news came at the end of the first day's strike by the car delivery drivers who were picketing the BMC. headquarters of Longbridge. Output at the Longbridge factory will continue tomorrow – it normally produces 10,000 vehicles a week -- but will cease when the day shift ends at 5 p.m. Many workers will be laid off, the company stated.
The strike, in protest at the dismissal of 333 drivers by 10 firms of delivery agents, was declared official by the TGWU. today.
The action of the employers in dismissing more than half their labour force had been " provocative and ruthless ".Mr H Urwin, the union's regional secretary. said. The union had proposed that work should be shared.
Mr Urwin added: "I sincerely regret any loss that may be sustained by BMC. and any hardship suffered by their employees, but any trade union worthy of its salt could not fail to support members treated in this callous way.
"I cannot believe that any Government spokesman who may have referred to 'shake-outs ' intended workers to be treated like this."
22 November 1966
BMC Presses On With It's £10m Engine Plant
Sir George Harriman, reporting to shareholders of the British Motor Corporation today says that in the present troubles facing the home side of the industry the main problem is how to plan for the immediate future. The industry must once again " revert to the fundamental faith " in the growth of demand which has always proved justified.On the export front the prospect is promising. More than a third of total output was exported and BMC. provided44 per cent of British vehicle export to the Continent. For 1966 the group expects to raise its export earnings to£160m., £4m. more than last year. Meanwhile expansion continues against a background of falling output for the industry as a whole. During October the United Kingdom production was down by 21 per cent compared with the same month a year ago.
Smarting under the lashing it has taken from the politicians, unions and press and what it considers to be unfair comparisons with the position of other car companies--a leaner and hungrier BMC. is preparing to take a bigger bite of the car cake.
High on the list of priorities is the equipping of an engine factory more than £10m. at Cofton Hackett, about half a mile from BMC's huge Longbridge works. Little has been heard of this project since planning permission was granted two years ago. A state of affairs which suits BMC. because of the local opposition to its intrusion into rural setting. The 300,000 sq. ft. building, that is as big as the main car assembly workshop at Longbridge now ready for its machinery.
At least £8m. is being spent to provide the most automated engine production plant in the world. So advanced are BMC's requirements that where machine-tool manufacturers are unable to meet them, its own design teams and workshops are undertaking the work.
In spite of the present enforced cutbacks and gloomy predictions that it will be 1968 before BMC. is back on its feet, the company is pressing ahead with its original plans to start production at the new plant towards the middle of next year.
Its reasons are twofold:-
Engine production is still the biggest bottle-neck at the height of the sales season; Although it steadfastly refuses to confirm this, an entire new range of engines has now reached an advanced planning stage. The first to appear will undoubtedly be a 1500 cc engine to power a model to fill the costly gap in BMC’s range between the 1100 and 1900, making it a direct competitor for Ford's best-selling Cortina.
There are many at Longbridge who now accept that a mistake was made in stretching the front-wheel drive conception so far in one jump. The market was not ready for the 1800, on top of which it had more than its share of teething troubles. These have now been ironed out and BMC. salesmen are confident that when markets pick up it will establish itself as a healthy member of the family.
The delayed appearance in significant numbers of the automatic Minis and 1100s should also boost sales. The factory acquired at Kings Norton has now been fully converted to their exclusive production which required dust-free conditions well in advance of those applying, in another car plant. Initially production will be 500 a week, with capacity for 1,000. Both models are already being exported to France and Italy and the intention is to extend this export coverage as production increases.
One thing is certain however chastened BMC. management may be by its present ordeal (and one senior executive told me candidly: - “I hope I never have to go through another three months like the last three”) it is more than ever determined to increase its share of the home market.
The surprising truth is that in August and September it was already making steady progress in this direction. In August its share was 38.5 per cent (34.7 per cent in 1965) and in September 39 per cent (35.7 Per cent in 1965). This is sill a long way from the 50 per cent target set by Sir George Harriman, chairman, who, however harrowing the present, refuses to lower his long-range sights.
“As far as BMC. is concerned ", he said, we are maintaining our investment programmes in anticipation of the future demands of motorists in Britain and world markets in general since our view has always been that the key to business prosperity lies in progressive investment whatever the prevailing economic climate”
BMC's target for the financial year ending July 31, 19670 was 1,100,000 units. This was reduced to 809,000 (a 21 per cent cut) and it is based on this production figure that the labour force was trimmed by 12,000. Setting aside for the moment any long-term, plans, it therefore becomes clear that if it can achieve this much reduced figure with 12,000 fewer workers-and it hopes to exceed it. BMC. will still be a lot better off than it was in the last financial year when it produced only 845,617 units because of 93,000 lost through industrial disputes and 23,000 lost in the West Midlands gas shortages last winter.
In the 14 years since the Morris-Austin merger, annual production has see-sawed, but it has maintained a remarkably steady upward progress over the period as a whole towards the target of 1,200,000 by 1968. With the new engine factory scheduled for completion in less than six months it will have more than enough capacity to meet this target. But its immediate problem is not how to make cars but how to sell them.
It claims 60 per cent of the sales outlets in Britain and far from reducing the number of its distributors in favour of a fewer and bigger policy as has been suggested in some quarters, it sticks firmly to a policy of saturation to deny sales outlets to the opposition.
A misunderstanding seems to have arisen here because BMC. has welcomed linkups between distributors. The reasoning behind this is simply that it enables the wider-based distributors to hold bigger stocks throughout the year and the factories to smooth out a little more of the cyclic ups and downs of production.
To speed the integration of its own sales force, the individual brand sales managers have recently been replaced by six regional sales managers all based on the group’s headquarters at Longbridge. This has led to some speculation in the trade that it is the prelude to tie disappearance of old established names, but this is denied.
Allegations of serious over-manning as the prime cause of the massive outback in the force have caused some heart-searching at Longbridge. But as one company official put it to me: " We had a labour force geared to our immediate target of 1,100,000. It would be a counsel of despair to set such a target and then believe we could never achieve it. Now we have re-trimmed our labour force for a new target and the signs are that we shall not want any of 12,000 back in the foreseeable future, certainly not less than a year. We shall use this time for a great deal of inward looking. "
Top of the list must be the simplification of the present complicated and analogous wage structure which is the primary cause of the endless number of strikes, so many of which occur in the vital spring period when production capacity is under pressure. This is what causes BMC. to miss so much of the cream from the top end of volume production.
Sir George and his colleagues on the board would dearly like to reorganise the group’s whole wage structure but they realize perhaps better than anyone else that this is a path strewn with industrial dynamite. A single step in the wrong direction and the whole thing could blow up in their faces. This is not, however, preventing them from making a number of detailed investigations into new systems of payment largely based on work study and job evaluation.
Much will depend in the next few months on the relationship established at each of the groups factories between the industrial relations managers appointed a year ago and the shop stewards. BMC. is pinning a lot of faith on the success of these men, whose brief is quite simply to deal with labour upsets as near the source as possible before either side has time to take up entrenched positions.