This section will include Company Press Statements and Reports,
along with newspaper articles.
News Articles 1905 to 1940
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.
Who's Check Number was One
BERT KING might not be everyone's idea of a shareholder, for he is just an ordinary chap doing an ordinary job, but as a BMC. World reporter found when he chanced across him in West Works Sawmill, he is a man with a certain claim to fame.
Bert joined the Company in September 1910 as a 'six-bob-a-week ]ad', determined to learn the trade of wood machining, and this he has done, for in his 50 years at Longbridge be has never left the Sawmill.
'But my main claim to fame is that for a number of years I was an Austin Motor Company employee with check number 1. This came about in 1914-and I held this number until 1944, when they added a couple of noughts and made me 100,' explained Bert with a grin.
'My being a shareholder came about n 1935, when the Company presented long-serving employees with "A" shares, the number being in accordance with their service. I received 25 shares, and as in those days there weren't many people who received them, I imagine I may now be the Company's only shopfloor shareholder.'
Being a shareholder is a responsibility Bert takes very seriously. 'I have the right to attend and vote at the Company's annual general meeting, and this right I exercise regularly. The shares bring me in a regular sum every year, and have made me very interested in the stock market and share prices.' Next year Bert will be 68, and has already turned his thoughts towards retirement. 'I do not plan to go this year, for I still have plenty of work left in me, but next year-well, I suppose I will be saying goodbye to a lot of old friends.'
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.
6 February 1914
. . . .Agreement Between Herbert Austin, Harvey Du Cros Jr and Frank Kayser and James F White Shares
In. AUSTIN MOTOR COMPANY (1914) LTD FOR SERVICES
AN AGREEMENT made the 6th day of February 1914 BETWEEN HERBERT AUSTIN of Lickey Grange Bromsgrove in the County of Worcester Esquire HARVEY DU CROS (Junior) of Longwood Maidenhead in the County of Berks Esquire and FRANK KAYSER of Woodhill Hatfield in the County of Hertford a Major in the 23rd County of London Regiment (Territorials) of the one part and JAMES F WHITE of 44 Bedford Row in the County of London Esquire of the other part.
WHEREAS by an Agreement dated the 6th day of February 1914 and made between The Austin Motor Company Limited (therein and hereinafter called the Old Company) of the first part the said Herbert Austin Harvey Du Cros (Junior) and Frank Kayser of the second part and The Austin Motor Company (1914) Limited (therein and hereinafter called the New Company) of the third part the Old Company with the approval of the said Herbert Austin Harvey Du Cros (Junior) and Frank Kayser has agreed to sell its business to the New Company as from the 30th day of September 1913 in consideration of the New Company allotting to the Old Company or its nominees 399,993 fully paid Ordinary Shares of £1 each in the New Company and undertaking to discharge the liabilities of the Old Company.
AND WHEREAS it is proposed that after the completion of such sale the Old Company shall be wound up voluntarily and that subject to due provision being made for the costs of the winding-up and for the discharge of any and every guarantee given by the Old Company to the New Company in the hereinbefore recited agreement for sale and for such (if any) of the other liabilities of the Old Company as may not be taken over and discharged by the New Company the said 399,993 fully-paid shares of £1 each in the New Company (together with any dividends which may be received thereon prior to the division) shall be divided between the said Herbert Austin Harvey Du Cros (Junior) and Frank Kayser in certain proportions which have been agreed upon between them.
AND WHEREAS the said James F White has rendered valuable services to the Old Company in or about the promotion of the New Company and such services were rendered at the request of the said Herbert Austin Harvey Du Cros (Junior) and Frank Kayser and upon the terms that he the said James F White should upon the distribution of the said fully paid shares receive the number thereof hereinafter mentioned.
NOW IT IS HEREBY AGREED AND DECLARED that in consideration of the premises the said Herbert Austin Harvey Du Cros (Junior) and Frank Kayser shall in the event of and upon the said fully paid shares being distributed in the winding-up of the Old Company (a) procure 20,000 of such shares to be transferred to the said James F White in the proportions following namely the said Herbert Austin shall procure 9,333 the said Harvey Du Cros (Junior) shall procure 9,333 and the said Frank Kayser shall procure 1,334 of such shares to be so transferred and (b) procure in the like proportions any dividends which may have been paid on such 20,000 shares prior to the transfer thereof, to be paid over to the said James F White.
As WITNESS the hands of the parties the day and year first above written.
Signed by the said HERBERT AUSTIN
in the presence of
14 Regent Street
Signed by the said HARVEY DU CROS
H Du Cros (Junior)
in the presence of
14 Regent Street
Signed by the said FRANK KAYSER
Frank Kayser by RHSE Behrend (his duly authorised Attorney)
in the presence of
F SIDNEY GOODWIN
Signed by the said JAMES F WHITE
in the presence of
F SIDNEY GOODWIN
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.
25 March 1918
Letter from Clare Austin.
Hawkesley Old Farm
My Dear Walter
I have just received a letter of yours from my Niece written to my sister Debbie, Mrs Mumns, who has been dead two years, her daughter wishes me to answer if she being not at all well, before going further.
I must tell you I am your Auntie Clare “no doubt, your Father has often spoken of me, I was 77 years last month, and my eyesight is very dim, so you must excuse bad writing. I hope you will be able to read this. I cannot say dear I was sorry to hear of my brother’s death, for it must have been a blessed relief after suffering he must have borne and I pray God has taken him to his eternal rest, his father so often prayed we might be a united family in heaven, there are only two of us left, a Sister much younger and myself now, I feel sure your father had every care and attention while alive that love and care could give him and I am glad he had the little money sent to add to his comfort, I presume the chair was bought with it.
Now I will tell you a little of myself and family. I have had six sons and one daughter, two of my sons Jesus has taken home to live with him, the eldest one now alive is the one who went to Australia with your Father, now Sir Herbert Austin. KBE meaning knight of the British Empire was made so by the King last year. While in Australia he married a Helen Dron of Melbourne. I daresay you know them, they have had three children one boy and daughters, the boy ‘Vernon’ was a Lieut first in the Army went to France at the commencement of the war and was killed two years ago, shot through the heart, to the bitter grief of his parents and us all, a very clever boy and only 21 when he gave up his life, he was brought home to be buried with Military honours at Canterbury where he was a Kings scholar and the place loved. The next son is in business for himself, and Married a Scotch woman with one daughter and son 16 years old, a tall fine lad wanting all the time to be a Solder my third one named after your Father is doing well married a Spanish lady they have no children and my last boy Harry is with his brother Herbert holding a good position in the works.
My only daughter now 36 stays at home with her Mother, given up here life to me, she says humanly speaking it is her care and love that has kept me alive, I suffer much with rheumatism in fact I walk very little and that in pain. I should have said in the beginning that my husband has been dead many years, now my Son Herbert helps us, we have a nice small house quite enough for ourselves and friends to visit us and a lovely garden which is a delight of our daughter. I forgot to mention Harry is the only one to marry an English wife and they have a darling baby girl two years old that comes often to see her grannie, who loves her so dearly a most charming child she is. This house that is now comfortable made so by my Son, is very old.
A castle once stood on the ground where the house now stands, there is a moat surrounding it now and a place where the drawbridge once used to be. Many battles have been fought on it. I presume you are but little affected by this dreadful war, no air raids to frighten you, no food rations that keep you all the time half hungry.
We are only allowed one pound and a half of meat for the two of us a week, and we have not had that this year yet, there are plenty of potatoes, one penny a pound but all else is frightfully dear, an income of £800 a year is only equal to £360 in spending it, and there is the fear of bread been rationed which I sincerely hope will not take place, yet in spite of it all dear Walter, we have so very much to be thankful for. I often read the 103 Psalm as a thanks-giving to God for all the love He has shown all of us in offering us to each other and the mercies that through our days. Surely goodness has followed us all our days. May we all dwell in the house of our God for ever. I shall be very pleased to hear from you and pray I may be alive to receive a letter from you, we are never sure our letters will arrive safely because of the Submarine mines, with love and all good wishes.
Your loving Auntie Clara
God bless and ever have you in His keeping
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.
20 January 1919
Extraordinary General Meeting
An Extraordinary General Meeting of the Austin Motor Company Ltd was held at the registered office of the company, Longbridge Works, Northfield, on Monday January 20. 1919.
The Chairman and Managing Director (Sir Herbert Austin KBE. MP.) As it will be remembered by most of those present, the company had at the outbreak of war in 1914. just commenced to increased its operations and benefit by the £250,000 new capital received in the early part of that year. Naturally, the outbreak of war interfered very much with progress, and many of the contracts on hand were cancelled or reduced, but demands from our own Government and from Russia soon taxed to the utmost the resources of the works. and in a few months necessitated big increase in the building and plant.
The Manufacture of Shells and Aeroplanes
Early in 1915 the urgent demand for shells developed into a national emergency, and your company stepped into the break, with other firms, and commenced the manufacture of 18 and 15-pounder shells in large quantities. The arrangements 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 produced and circulate full details of the tools and operations we used to other contractors for their guidance. The result of the manufacture of these 18-pounder shells gave such satisfaction to the Government that your workshops for the forging and machining 9.2in shells. Here again the success attained by improved methods and special equipment soon drew attention from all quarters.
Outputs per man-hour were obtained far in advance of anything that had been previously accomplished, either in this company or elsewhere. When further and larger quantities of 8in. and 18-pounders shells were required in 1916 and 1917, instructions were again received to lay down two very large works, which are now called the North and West Works, to deal with outputs of considerable magnitude. In the contracts for these works, your company stipulated owing to their being laid down on company land, that the company should have an option to purchase both the workshops and the power plant at a valuation at the end of the war.
While these large and important operations were being carried on for shell manufacture, 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. Big shops were laid down for the work, and the output went up by leaps and bounds.
The difficulty of obtaining labour warranted your company in providing accommodation for its growing personnel by purchasing some 128 acres close to the works and erecting thereon about 250 houses, and also in constructing about 35 omnibuses to carry the workers in outlying districts. Two railway 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 has exceeded 20,000, and the output reached the very sum of £9,276,717.
It has £4,000,000 worth of orders in hand.
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.
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.
07 January 1920
Memorandum From Sir Herbert Austin
I have arranged for the new bonus scheme to come into operation as from 5th January, and this will effect all foreman under your control. The method of arriving at the Bonus is as follows:-
3% of the net sales will be divided among the employees who will participate in the new scheme.
Assume that the total weekly sales amount is £150,000 2% of this sum is £4,500 Divide £4,500 by the estimated number of units to be distributed viz. 3330; the result gives the value of one unit as £1.7.0.
If more employees are engaged to participate in bonus, the figure of 3330 Units will be increased, and the value per up-it consequently decreased. It is therefore in the interest of everyone concerned to keep down the number of employees in entitled to participate in the bonus scheme.
21 January 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.
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.
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.
01 September 1926
The Austin Motor Scheme. Shareholders Opposition
The scheme for effecting a reduction in the capital of the Austin Motor Company, Ltd. to £2,150,000 by writing off £1,200.000, was submitted yesterday to meetings of the Preferred Ordinary and Ordinary shareholders, and subsequently to an extraordinary general meeting at Birmingham.
The resolution placed before the former meetings in favour of ratifying a conditional agreement modifying the rights and privileges of holders of Preferred Ordinary and Ordinary shares was criticized by a number of speakers, and it was ultimately decided to adjourn the meetings. Subject to confirmation, however, the scheme was approved by the extraordinary general meeting, although confirmation is dependent upon the scheme being accepted when the adjourned meetings of the holders of Preferred Ordinary and Ordinary shares are held on September 22.
Opposition to the proposals was forthcoming on the ground that no dividend, it was suggested, was possible for six years, and Mr Harrison, of West Hartlepool, who complained that the Preference shareholders had no voting power, mentioned that a writ was issued in the High Court to demand that right and to prevent the company holding its annual general meeting. A committee of Preference shareholders, he said, tried to obtain
an injunction, but owing to the short notice received from the company they were unsuccessful. They were advised 'by counsel however, that they had a perfectly good case.
13 September 1926
Austin Prices Down
Reductions in price, ranging from £100 to £4, are announced by The Austin Motor Company Limited, in new models for 1927. The “Austin Seven” has been reduced in price by £4, from £149 to £145 for the touring model, and the new 7 h.p. saloon has been reduced by a similar sum from £189 to £165. The 12 h.p., touring car has been reduced by £20 to £275, and the more expensive models are cheaper in proportion. No radical changes in chassis design or body work are reported.
23 September 1926
Meetings Again Adjourned
The adjourned meetings of the shareholders of the Austin Motor Company, Ltd. called to ratify the scheme for reducing the capital from £5,000,000 to £3,800,000 were held at Birmingham. It was again apparent that the proposals could not be carried owning to the numbers of proxies lodged in opposition, and after discussion, the meeting was adjourned to a date fixed by subsequent notice.
Sir Herbert Austin, chairman of the company, told the Preferred Ordinary shareholders, who met first, that proxies to the number of 885,372 had been received in favour of the directors’ proposals. There were an additional 42,244 received too late for the present meeting, making a total of 927,616 which represented almost tow-thirds of the entire capital in the Preferred Ordinary class. In view of the fact, however that 360,419 valid proxies had been lodged in opposition, it was obvious that the directors’ scheme could not be carried at present. It was therefore, proposed to adjourn all the meetings to enable dissentient shareholders to give their adherence to the proposal.
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.
14 August 1928
Austin's Reduce Motor Car Prices
Reductions in the prices of Austin motor cars were announced yesterday. Coming at the time when there was talk of increases, the announcement caused much speculation in the motor trade generally. Only a few days ago rumours of increases were insistent, and then at least two companies who produce light models at popular prices declared that the next movement of prices was bound to begin an upward direction. A representative of the Clyno Company expressed the belief that the increase would be about 5%, and that all the mass-produced cars would have to make the same increase.
The Austin reduction recalls the departure made by two companies the Morris and Clyno few months ago, when they announced new models of baby cars approximating to the Austin Seven, although the new Clyno model was rated at nine horsepower.
Sir Herbert Austin yesterday discussed his reasons for the latest price reduction. "It isa continuation," he said, "of our previous practice of passing on to the purchaser at the earliest possible moment the advantages were able to obtain by increased turnover and improved production methods. Each year our position in these respects has improved, and the substantial reduction now being made in our prices is largely owing to the £600,000 expenditure recently completed for increases in buildings, plant, and equipment." The early announcement was made partly to stop the slump in cars which always occurs at this time of the year owing to the expectation of reductions being announced at the Motor Show.
Captain Grindley of the Car Mart London, expressed the belief that this reduction would result in other companies cancelling their intention to raise prices. His view was shared by many others on the selling side of the industry.
The reductions include the following:-
7 hp touring car, from £135 to £125; 7 hp saloon, from £150 to £135; 12 hp Clifton tourer (five-seater), from £255 to £245; 12 hp open road tourer, from £295 to £265; 16 hp open road tourer from £355 to £315 and the 20 hp six-cylinder Ranelagh, from £675 to £595.
Four and six cylinder ambulance chassis are £295 a reduction of £30
Standard ambulance cost £610 instead of £640.
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.
03 April 1929
Strike at Longbridge
The management of the Austin Motor Company, Birmingham, have abandoned their passive attitude towards the strikers.This afternoon the men were given notice that those who did not present themselves for work to-morrow would be deemed to have discharged themselves from the company's employ.
The policy of the strikers fluctuated during the day. When the 'factory opened this morning after the holiday break a large proportion of the workers, after clocking in, adjourned to the adjacent flying field. Here a meeting was held, at which it was decided to continue the strike. Later in the day the workers met again, and agreed that an attempt should be made to get in touch with the management. This effort was unsuccessful. It was 'reported that the management declined to receive the workers' delegation, a message being sent to them that the board of the company had definitely, decided that no discussions or interviews could take place until the men resumed work. The message, which was signed by Mr.C R F Engelbach, the works director,added:--" I shall be glad to receive a deputation from all concerned as soon as work is started." There was some strong speaking by Mr. Bowen, the chairman of the strike committee, when this communication was received. If they went back, he said, they would be returning like beaten dogs ready to accept the crumbs that were thrown out to them. The strikers thereupon decided to continue the strike, but to abandon the stay-in method. They will, not go into the works to-morrow, and pickets were appointed. A meeting of the strikers was arranged for 8 o'clock. tomorrow morning.
The notice posted by the management read as follows, "As there has not been the necessary general resumption of work to-day the board of the company has decided that, commencing with to-morrow (Thursday) morning, April 4, and until further notice, only those members of the staff and workpeople will be permitted to enter the works who have been supplied with a card by their superintendent or foreman, or who have received one by post. Men willing to work can obtain a card from their foreman by application to the new Labour Office, NorthWorks Hostel, although, owing to the dislocation caused by the stoppage, some time may elapse before every one desirous of working can be employed. All others will be considered to have discharged themselves from the company's employ and can only be reengaged after a formal application By order of the Company.
24 May 1929
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.
I am amused to note that the Conservative Party, according to Mr Snowdon, will not have me as a member any longer owing to some statement I made as to the continued protection of the industry. I think the best answer I can give is that I have been pressed to accept re-nomination on many occasions. I have had to refuse because I consider my time better spent in the general interests of the country in looking after my own big business than as acting as a member of Parliament.
Sir Herbert Austin and the Motor Trade
Sir Herbert Austin, the motor manufacturer, addressing the Manchester Luncheon Club on Motors: Their Past, Present, and Future, made a reference to the political situation. he said:- We are hoping and believing that things are going to be allowed to go on as they are. We do not want any drastic changes in this country at the present time. We want to be allowed to carry on in our own way. We have built up quite a big organization in this country, based on the conditions which have existed over a period of years, and if there is going to be change I hope it is going to be slow in order to give us the time to make such changes as will meet the change in the political situation. We hope that all industries in the next 25 years will show a gradual improvement back to the position we occupied before the War. I believe that the world has need of us. Our desire to make good is approved by the nations of the world, and without our help and our co-operation and our brains and our hands, the world would be considerably poorer than it is at the present time.
22 October 1929
Sir Herbert Austin on the McKenna Duties
Sir Herbert Austin, speaking at the dinner of the Austin Motor Company, at the Connaught Rooms last night, said the coming year could not be otherwise than abnormally difficult. Let them take, for instance, the possible refusal of the Government to retain the McKenna Duties. We are all doing our best to prevent such a catastrophe from arising, he said, and, while it might be very consoling for shareholders to say that to say that such a pierce of folly could not possibly arise, we are doing everything we can be prepared for the worst. Designs for the sake of change should be discouraged, Sir Herbert Austin added. They did not want to get the motor industry into the somewhat unhappy state of women's fashions. Agents agreed with him that a motor industry to make a biennial exhibition quite satisfactory.
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.
Sir Herbert Austin on the McKenna Duties
Sir Herbert Austin, speaking at the dinner of the Austin Motor Company, at the Connaught Rooms last night, said the the coming year could not be otherwise than abnormally difficult. Let them take, for instance, the possible refusal of the Government to retain the McKenna Duties. We are all doing our best to prevent such a catastrophe from arising, he said, and, while it might be very consoling for shareholders to say that to say that such a pierce of folly could not possibly arise, we are doing everything we can be prepared for the worst. Designs for the sake of change should be discouraged, Sir Herbert Austin added. They did not want to get the motor industry into the somewhat unhappy state of women's fashions. Agents agreed with him that a motor industry to make a biennial exhibition quite satisfactory.
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.
04 Sept 1930
New changes for the 1931 range of Austin Cars
The four Austin chassis the 7hp 12hp 16hp and 20hp are being continued with improvements, but no very radical alterations. The coachwork is more up to date and in many cases prices, are lowered.
It is stated that the sales of Austin products for the months of June, July, and August.1913, show an increase of 29.7 per cent. over the similar period of last year and, as has nearly always been the case since the War with the British motor manufacturer, the benefit of larger output and sales has been proportionately passed on to the public. The fabric and coachbuilt Seven saloons formerly cost £140 each. and the new price for the improved models is £130. The tourer 2-seater formerly sold at £130, and these are each £17 10s. less. The crankshaft of the Seven is stiffer, the change speed lever is longer and more convenient, the petrol tank carries five gallons and has a reserve supply, the button oil indicator has been superseded by a dashboard dial guage, theb windscreen has a locking device, and probably the greatest improvement the four brakes are now operated together by hand or foot. The appearance of the cars has been considerably improved. The radiator is higher and the shell narrower, the bonnet has been raised and length added by shortening the scuttle. The new windscreen is slightly canted, and an impression of length is given by a belt moulding running from radiator to rear panel. This moulding is painted to harmonize with any given colour scheme. The new Seven is made to seat four persons comfortably, and has pneumatic upholstery. The doors are wide. The carrying capacity is 36st. The chassis construction is too well known to need emphasis here, though it may be stated that the engine, with its cylinder capacity of 747.5 cc., is said to develop 10.5-horse power at the moderate rate of 2,400 rpm. Sliding sun shine roofs can be had on the saloon models for £5 more.
Prices of the Twelve vary from £275, which is the new price for the Watford saloon, the new open road 5-seated tourer, and the Eton 2-seater, to £299 for the six-window coach- built saloon and the four and six-window fabric saloons. All these last three types have been reduced in price. The chassis details of the Sixteen remain as before except for the addition of an air cleaner. This 6-cylinder engine is of 2.1/4, litres capacity and is stated to develop 36 brake horse power at 2,400 rpm. The crankshaft runs in eight bearings, and has a vibration damper in front. Reviews of all four Austin chassis appear in the current edition of " Cars of To-day," and therefore I do not propose to detail the construction here. The Sixteen has a wheelbase of 9ft. 4in. and a track of 4ft. 8in. The three types of saloon now cost £335 each, the coach-built and six--window fabric saloons thus being reduced £40 each, while the four-window fabric saloon were formerly priced at £ could be 365. The two open cars remain the same at £310. All saloon models of the Twenty, Sixteen, and Twelve can be had with a sliding sunshine roof for £10 extra. The silentbloc shackles and the zinc interleaves for the springs, proving, popular in the past, have been retained on all models. Last, the 20 h.p. Marlborough landaulette and Carlton saloon have each been reduced from £560 to £525, while the Ranelagh, which is now undoubtedly a handsome car sells at £575 instead of £630. The petrol tank on the Twenty is now at the back, and an air cleaner has been fitted to the engine. As with the other type of coachwork, there is improvement here. The shortening of the scuttle has allowed the bonnet to be lengthened, there are better roof lines, the windscreen is sloped, and the waist-line moulding extends along the scuttle and bonnet. This Ranelagh limousine has a sun visor, and the radiator cowl is higher and narrower. The car is elaborately fitted inside and there is a hinged central arm rest. The wheelbase is 11ft 4ins. There will also be a new saloon on the Twenty chassis shown at Olympia, but with a wheelbase 10ft 10ins. The 6-cylinder engine, of 3,400 cc. capacity, is stated to develop 49-horse power at only 2,000 rpm. In contradiction of the Pessimistic rumours of the state of the British motor, industry, the Austin Motor Company stated that the Longbridge factory is gearing up to produce more cars in 1931.
02 October 1930
Austin Motor Prosperity
Accounts are issued by the Austin Motor Company covering the seven months ended July 31. They show a great trading profits of £858,137, being at the rate of £1,471,092 per annum, as compared with £1,297,446 for the year 1929.Provision for maintenance, depreciation, and directors' fees requires £245,045, the Debenture service amounts to £78,750, and a sum of £150,000 is to be set aside for on account of income-tax. Thus the net profit for the period is £384,342, or at the rate of £ 658,872 per annum, as compared with £359,788 for the preceding full year. After allowing fore the fixed dividends for the period year 1929.
In their present report the directors state that the new prices operating from September 1, coupled with the new models, have been favourably receive, and the sales turnover since July 31, 1930, to the present date shows a distinct improvement over the same period of last year. Owing to the fact that the manufacture of the 7 hp. car by the American Austin Car Company was only in its initial stages, no licence fees were received during the period under review.
08 Oct 1930
Sir H. Austin On Future Changes
Sir Herbert Austin delivered his presidential address to the institution of Automobile Engineers at the Royal Society of Arts last night. He said that we had not reached perfection in automobile design any more than in other fields of industry. The present position was largely the result of standardization, made necessary by or consequent on, mass production to obtain a low manufacturing cost. Various attempts had been made to break away from this standardization the past 15 years, and to leave the well defined limits of present day practice would require a lot of courage on the part of a large manufacturer.
The exigencies of manufacture had largely controlled progress in design, though the rapid improvement of roads and the incidence of our vehicle taxation had, among other causes, been instrumental in holding back progress in the design of vehicles suitable for Colonial use. How much this out-of-date method of calculating horse-power for taxation purposes had cost the British nation in lost export trade it would be impossible to estimate. Although energetic representations had been made to the Government, design were still obliged to keep the stroke-bore ratio disproportionate for economic and sweet-running results. The American manufacture. in particular, had benefited enormously by our persistent folly and was able to produce his vehicle at considerably less cost by shorter stroke and larger bore.
Sir Herbert Austin then spoke of taxicab design. “For many practical reasons,” he said, “the engine should be put at the rear for a taxicab operating in congested areas and this would give a sensible and convenient means of entry and exit and better riding qualities. I look for early development in this direction.”
The weight of road vehicle could be reduced with advantage. The road vehicle of the future would have many fewer parts, hundreds fewer. Yet even today manufactures bid for public favour by adding each year some further complication. It could be safely assumed for a year or two that the type of engine, drive, gearbox, steering and brakes would change only in detail. The six-cylinder engine, except for very small sizes, would be predominant, because it gave a sweetness of running not possible with a four-cylinder engine. The added complications and expense of the eight-cylinder more than offset any extra refinement that it possessed for the cheaper models.
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"
20 March 1931
Progress Of Motor Industry
Sir H. Austin On Effect Of McKenna Duties
The progress of the British industry was the subject of an address by Sir Herbert Austin at a luncheon given by the American Chamber of Commerce in London at the Hotel Victoria, Northumberland avenue yesterday. Mr. Francis E. Powell presided.
Sir Herbert Austin said serious motor manufacturing in this country began in 1900, but from then till 1914 progress was not very rapid. Much had to be learned and prejudice removed. The insular and self-sufficient views of Englishmen had a retarding effect, a condition which also applied to the United States. They all made too many models and too many changes and encouraged individual tastes embodied on their cars. Costs were high and the manufacturing facilities were of what might be styled the hand-made variety. The War changed all that and gave them a real appreciation of what could be accomplished by means of mass production.
The Progress since 1921 had been constant, if at times a bit patchy, but unquestionably the present comparatively satisfactory position of the British motor industry was largely due to the security given by the McKenna duties, which had remained in force since the Coalition Government, except in 1924-25. when for a few months the Socialist Government removed them as a sop for the support of Liberal Party. There was still some danger they might try to do it again.
As showing what had been accomplished during the last nine year, he pointed out that the total manufacture of passenger cars and commercial vehicles had steadily increased from 73,000 in 1922 to 238,805 in 1929. In 1930 there was a drop of about 2,300, the total being 236,528. The commercial vehicles were roughly about 25 per cent of the totals. The export figures, about 15 to 20 per cent of the total manufactures, showed an increase of from 3,041 in 1922 to 48,821 in 1929. Last year the figure dropped to 29,753. These figures would look a little tame to some of their American competitors, but while the Americans had to some extent their good time, the British manufacturers believed that theirs was still to come. (Cheers.)
While the British manufacturers were trying to keep their end up, they recognized that the endeavouring to support, called for greater efforts, and the rapid strides made by American manufacturers both in design and in reduction of price made their position in some export markets one of serious concern. They were not downhearted, and they did not expect to evade entirely the effects of the present world setback, but they would be heartily, glad when some of the problems were solved and more normal conditions existed. In their wholehearted adoption of the small car they had shown the world that they were not all snobs and that they could adapt themselves to varying circumstances.
Was the present extraordinarily keen competition between the United States and Britain altogether necessary or in their best interests individually or collectively ? The two nations had very much the same ideals, and would be able, if linked together, to control the well being and the peaceful occupation of the world. Why did they not collaborate more ? They had each at times done a little in this direction and usually with some success, but in the grasping for all the plum which took place so often they must be losing quite a proportion of what they might each retain, and still feed the foreign markets with what they required at satisfactory prices. Why did not the United States and Great Britain do what would place them in an enviable and unassailable position put forward a scheme for the cancellation of War debts on the distinct understanding that all military and naval undertakings or preparations should be cut down to a minimum for the next 25 years or longer ?
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,
17 December 1932
Progress at Home and Abroad
The delivery figures of the Austin factory at Longbridge, Birmingham, for the past two months, are stated to amount to more than 10,000 cars or over 190,000 developed horse-power. Of these 10,000 cars, some 1,800 have been dispatched overseas, South Africa and New Zealand having taken the largest numbers. in many foreign markets British motor-cars have now taken the lead. The latest official figures from Ceylon for the quarter 'ended September 30 last show that Austins accounted for 44 per cent. of the total number of registrations. Two Austin cars were sold for every one of the next most popular makes. South Africa, Austin products hold the motor-car market for Great Britain, Austin figures showing that one in 4.3 of new cars registered in the Cape Province, were Austin models. The Austin Seven has played many roles, and been put to many uses. An America model, fitted with grooved wheels, is used as an overhead ferry across a river 50 yards wide. The Seven runs on two cables, being steadied by a third passing through a pulley attached to the roof. With the full complement of passengers, this tight-rope prodigy can cross the river 100 times on a gallon of petrol.
The largest press job yet to be undertaken at Longbridge has just been put into production. This is the forming of two Austin Seven rear-quarter panels by one stroke of the 500-ton press. The blank sheet for this pressing has an area of 34 square feet, and weighs over 501b. The dies used in themselves weigh almost 11 tons, but they enable 144 panels to be produced every hour.
07 Feb 1933
Trade Outlook in Birmingham
Sir H Austin on Motor Car Orders
Sir Herbert Austin presided at the annual meeting of the Greater Birmingham Employment Committee yesterday. He predicted that the present year would see an improvement over 1932 in many local industries and advocated greater freedom in spending on the part of the public.
Contrasting the unemployment position in Birmingham with that at Glasgow, he said that last December 19, the number of men women boys and girls unemployed in Birmingham was 50,370. This, if not entirely satisfactory compared favourably with Glasgow, where 31.7 per cent. of the insured population was out of the work, the total being 129,890. In Birmingham the percentage was 13.2. The number of people in receipt of poor relief was 22,888 in Birmingham and 106,308 in Glasgow.
The position of motor-car firms and some other manufacturers in the Birmingham district afforded hope and confidence for the immediate future. The Austin Company had received about 40 per cent. more orders during the last four months than in the corresponding period a year ago. The prevalent idea that it was unwise to spend because economy had been advocated by successive Governments would have to be changed. He commended the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s “spend now” campaign.
Sir Alan Cobham's Flying Circus
The second visit of Sir Alan Cobham’s National Aviation Day Crusade to the flying ground at Longbridge, took place on Saturday and Sunday, May 6 and 7 1933 the event proving fully as popular as the first visit last year. Over ten thousand people paid for admission to the ground and throughout the afternoon and evening of each day a full programme of air trips and stunt flying was given. The auto-gyro and the large two engine air liner proved popular, and both were almost constantly in the air. The flying ground at Longbridge is enclosed within the circular track used for testing Austin cars which is a mile in circumference. The cost of the joy fights was a few shillings.
29 June 1933
The new Austin Sports Seven
The new "Sports Seven" recently announced by the Austin Company, is a car which shows a good example of low, level compactness. In fact, the seats are only 14in. above the ground when the normal complement of two persons is being carried. This low centre of gravity is obtained by a special front axle with a transverse semi-elliptic spring of reversed camber, and flat rear quarter-elliptic springs.
The engine is of similar capacity and general design, with detachable head and side valves, to the standard model, except that a downdraught carburettor, special manifolding, as well as special valve gear and a high compression cylinder head ensure a 23-b.h.p. output at 4,800 r.p.m. Naturally the four gear ratios have been modified to suit the engine performance, the top gear of 5.6 to one being slightly lower than standard, with the other ratios of 8.6, 13.7, and 19.6 to one somewhat higher. Other special features include a spring-arm steering wheel, single panel sports screen, and a wire-mesh radiator guard.
The battery is accessible under the long bonnet, and the shapely tail of the car houses the spare wheel, jack, and wheelbrace, leaving room to take luggage behind the seats. The two wide doors allow the seats to be easily reached, and there is a hood. Priced at £148 complete, this new sports car should certainly appeal to many motorists who want that combination so difficult to obtain - speed and economy.
The Austin Seven still continues to add to the number of successes scored by British cars in international events. In the Intonational Kesselberg Hill Climb in Bavaria, held on June 18, the Austin Seven, driven by R. Kohlrausch, secured first prize in the racing-car class up to 800 c.c., improving the old category record by four
seconds. In the same event W. Baumer, also driving an Austin Seven, won second prize. The course is a very difficult one owing to many comers, and the event is looked upon as the most important South German hill climb.
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
13 August 1934
Cars Of 1935
Improvements and Prices
The spectacular and sensational, merely as such, find no place in the Austin programme for 1935, and the firm have wisely aimed at bringing their chassis up to date with a certain number of new bodies and giving high value with modem and full equipment, improved appearance, and that trustworthiness on which the success of the Austin organization has been founded and maintained for many years.
Taking first the Seven, for over 12 years the baby of the Austin range and the car which has probably popularized motoring more than any other, there is an entirely new model known as the Ruby four-seater saloon, which is priced at £120, or as the Ruby fixed bead saloon at £112.
With this new body and fresh radiator design the Seven is transformed in appearance. The radiator proper is protected by a neat grill, and the cowling is cellulosed to match the body finish. With a moderate rake and a forward mounting position, the new design merges smoothly into the relatively long bonnet, from which the body lines sweep rearwards. The curves blend with the back-swept rear panel which encloses the spare wheel.
An important new feature included to suit this body is the dropped chassis with special side member. The result is that the floor level is lower than formerly by 5in., and, of course, the car is more stable, while it has been possible to fit a new type of door with light yet strong window framing. The width of the doors, with the low floor, which is without foot-wells makes the rear seats much easier to reach than before.
Other interesting new features of the Ruby saloon are the easily adjustable front seats, flush-fitting direction indicators, a disappearing luggage carrier, bigger tyres of 4in. by 17in., and the battery and tools under the bonnet. There are large, separately adjustable louvres in the scuttle, and the rear windows can be opened vertically at the back to give additional ventilation. The de-luxe equipment includes hide upholstery, sliding roof and single-bar bumpers.
Another noteworthy model is the Pearl which is planned on similar lines to the saloon but is a cabriolet, in which the folding head has full and half opening positions. This car is priced at £128. It has flush fitting direction indicators, and the same type of quarter windows as on the saloon are included, an unusual refinement for a small cabriolet. These cars have a needle-bearing propeller shaft, and improvements include a new instrument panel with concealed lighting.
The 2-seater, now called the Opal, is the same as before. It costs £100. The open 4-seater, £108, has, however the new frontal design.
The controls on all models have been simplified by the adoption of automatic ignition, combined strangler and throttle control, automatic return for the direction indicators (worked by the steering), and a foot operated dip switch for the headlamps. These points, like greater stability, are contributions to greater road safety. On the Seven range, with certain exceptions on the sports models, there are a new magnetic speedometer, electric screen wiper, headlamps with ribbed fronts to give an even spread of light, and separate side lamps.
The greatest mechanical change, and one which applies to all 1935 Austin cars, is the incorporation of synchromesh for second as well as third and fourth speeds. This policy is right and progressive.
During the past season the sales of the Austin Ten Four are stated to have been 36 per cent. in advance of those for the previous 12 months, and over 50,000 Ten Fours have now been delivered. With the exception of the Sports Tourer the whole range of these models have the new radiator described above.
There is a new saloon known as the Lichfield, which sells at £172 10s., or as a fixed head saloon at £I58. The back of the body ends in a rounded panel, which encloses the spare wheel and drops to form a luggage platform. The de-luxe fittings include a sliding roof, hide upholstery, flush fitting direction indicators, and single bar bumpers, while automatic return of the direction indicators and a foot worked dip switch are included. Here there are compensated voltage control, dual screen wipers, thermostatic cooling, as well as the new headlamps, and so forth. The Open Road Tourer and the Clifton two-seater each sell at £152, while the Colwyn cabriolet is priced at £178.
In addition to synchromesh for second as well as third and fourth speeds, and the various control and fitment improvements, the latest Light Twelves have the new front, which includes deeply domed and valanced wings. The Light Twelve-Four sells either as a two-seater or open tourer at £172 10s., while the Ascot saloon is £218 or the fixed head saloon £198.
The Light Twelve-Six can be had with a 13.9 or 15.9 h.p. 6-cylinder engine, and here prices run from £200 for the open cars to £235 for the Ascot saloon, apart from the sports models. The Sixteen and Eighteen range has proved popular in the last 12 months, as is evidenced by the fact that sales arc 83 per cent. in advance of those for the previous year.
A new saloon is the York, which has the new radiator and the improved wings and fairings, which are well shown oft on a chassis of this wheelbase. The de-luxe specification provides much refinement, and occasional seats are available at little extra cost, so that seven persons can travel in the car. The York saloon is priced at £328, while the same body, with a fixed head, a division, and an electric telephone, is known as the Chalfont, and costs £338. The Hertford five-seater saloon is similar to the York, but has a shorter wheelbase. It costs £318. All models of the Sixteen and Eighteen are available with the Hayes transmission at extra cost.
As to the Twelve-Four 12.8 h.p. the Westminster, Carlton, Iver, with division, are being retained, while there are the two Berkeley saloons, and prices vary from £275 to £325. While the Twelve-Four is the 4-cylinder 12.9 h.p. counterpart of the Sixteen and incorporates the new gearbox, dual screenwipers, and adjustable rear seating, the controls remain unaltered.
The biggest of the Austin range is the 23.5 h.p. Twenty, which as the Mayfair limousine or landaulette costs £650 or as the Ranelagh limousine or landaulette £595. The Mayfair models follow the new lines, and a special feature is the spare wheel compartment, enclosed by a shapely rear panel which can be dropped to form a luggage platform. Modern lines have been aimed at without detracting from head and leg room and general comfort. The frame of the Twenty chassis is dropped and cross-braced, and the propeller-shaft with needle-bearing universal joints, the additional synchromesh engagement, and simplified controls are included.
There are five sports cars now in active production two Sevens, the Speedy and the Nippy, both open two-seaters; the sports tourer Ten Four, called the Ripley; and the Light Twelve. Six Newbury sports tourer and Kempton sports saloon. Here prices run from £142 for the Nippy to the Kempton at £305. Most of the improvements applicable to the general range are features also of the sports cars.
The vans now include four useful vehicles varying in load capacity from, 5cwt. to 10 cwt., in carrying space from 51 to 88 cubic feet, and in price from, £108 to £190. On the special Twenty ambulance chassis a cross-braced frame and Dewandre servo braking are included, there is a Sixteen ambulance on the long 10ft. wheelbase, and a new Ten-Four taxi chassis with dropped cross-braced frame, synchromesh for third and top, worm-driven back axle, inverted rear springs to give low body mounting, coil ignition with automatic advance compensating voltage control, and special taxicord tyres.
Lastly, the Austin Company have re-entered the marine engineering field, and the new engine is a marine edition of the Seven power unit, to be known as the Thetis. The engine has several special features, and is stated to develop over 13 h.p. at 3,000 r.p.m.
14 August 1934
Sir Herbert Austin on Road Safety
Sir Herbert Austin, speaking at Longbridge Birmingham, yesterday, said that road safety was a national responsibility, and as such demanded national cooperation, but that cooperation would not be evident until all road users were made equally aware of their responsibilities. The driving tests were, he considered, a useless restriction, except, of course, in the case of public conveyances, for he did not doubt that 99 per cent. of motorists involved in accidents would pass any reasonable test. The same applied to legislation imposing a speed limit of 30 miles an hour. He did not consider that 30 miles an hour could be taken as a safe speed. In some cases it would be too fast, in others unnecessarily slow, and would merely add to the serious traffic congestion already existing in some districts.
The Government must not shirk its responsibilities by, making the motorist the scapegoat, for he believed that the majority of motorists were considerate, law-abiding citizens paying far more than their just share of taxation. It was ridiculous to suppose that they wished to commit suicide or that they did not value life as much as any other member of the community.
31 August 1934
Reducing Accidents to the Editor
Sir, In my private capacity as a motor manufacturer, and as a motorist of 40 year 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 death sand 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 Helsingfors to reduce accidents.
Of course the suppression of the us, of the born 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 today 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, would result in a reduction of accidents on our roads.
I am yours faithfully,
Longbridge Works, Birmingham
5 January 1935
New Extension at Longbridge
In the new extension just completed at the Longbridge factory of the Austin Motor Company a wonderful pitch of coordinated operation has been achieved by using the latest conveying plant. This new shop, which has cost £20,000 and has a floor area of 41,000 square, feet, is devoted to body mounting and incidental processes; in it the combination of each Austin body and chassis occurring every one and a half minutes, or 1,000 times a week is now performed by electric switch. High up in the control gallery the operator has before him a second push button switches which determine the movement of the three body hoists. By one of them hoists each body is lifted from a reception platform and manoeuvred with the travelling and traversing motions until it can gently drop into position on the waiting chassis newly arrived from the erecting lines. In a few seconds the car stands ready for the finishing operations, and move off by a conveyor at anything up to 2ft. a minute.
In all, there are six of these moving, lines of car, each 100 yards long two of them having raised sections to enable mechanics to work below the passing cars securing body bolts, and so forth. Three feeder stores, in the form of mezzanine floor, supply the lines with all necessary equipment and parts, these stores being themselves supplied from the main receiving stores by a conveyor nearly 600 yards in length that incorporates over 200 trays or carriers. Every component required throughout the shop is thus automatically provided when and where wanted on the moving lines of cars, and near the end of each line an electrically operated quick-delivery pump supplies each Austin with fuel, so that it can be driven away under its own power for its road test.
Sewing through plywood
Progress in methods of motor vehicle production is phenomenally rapid to-day. Ingenious ideas are constantly being put successfully into practice whereby building costs may be reduced and the benefit subsequently passed on to the purchaser or user of the vehicle. An advanced type of sewing machine has been developed for use in the body-trimming department of Morris Motors, Limited. This machine actually sews through plywood. stitching down leather and Rexine at a speed comparable with that of the usual type of housewife's machine. The rate is 700 stitches a minute, and the needles are specially designed for the job.
Five units are in regular use. They are operated by girls, who display considerable skill in manipulating pieces of three-ply, which vary in size up to about four square feet in area. Inside door panels, of approximately this size, are trimmed at the rate of 30 an hour. This process represents a considerable advance on the original idea of fixing the trimming by means of tacks. It is not only quicker but productive of far greater service, as there is little likelihood of die trimming pulling away from the board.
13 August 1935
Anticipations of Sir Herbert Austin
Sir. Herbert Austin, speaking today at a luncheon attended by dealers and agents at the Austin Motor Company's works at Lonbridge, Birmingham, predicted that with settled government and no further restrictive legislation upon motorists or the manufacturers, the coming year would be the most successful experienced by the British motor industry.
During the past 12 months, he said, the Austin business had achieved new records. Sales returns showed a 26 per cent. increase on the previous year, which itself had been a record. In the export markets Austin products enjoyed increasing popularity, the past years’s showing an increase of 29% in spite of strenuous competition and the difficulties in the way of foreign trade, particularly in some of the larger Empire markets. In the wake of increased sales followed a welcome increase in employment, and during the year the number of workers at Longbridge showed a 13%. The average figure for the 12 months was 18,500.
He had no sensational surprise to announce. It was the considered opinion of the directors that yearly change solely for the sake of change was inadvisable, and they were therefore following the usual policy of improving existing models rather than making drastic changes in appearance and design. He did not think the slight increase in prices which had been found necessary on certain models would have any detrimental effect on sales.
13 October 1935
Sir Herbert Austin On McKenna Duties.
No Profiteering In The Motor Industry
Sir Herbert Auistin chairman of the Austin Motor Company Limited, presided at the “Olympia Dinner” of the firm at the Connaught Rooms last night. In proposing the toast of “The Austin Distributors and Agents,” he said that they were thankful to the Government for having reinstated the McKenna duties. They hoped the duties might be extended to include commercial vehicles, which had quite as much for justification for support as the passenger car. A proof that the duties had not resulted in profiteering 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 a 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 expanded. Referring to the negotiations which had taken place between the Austin Motor Company and American manufacturers, Sir Herbert said that he had been 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 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 as the scheme has been abandoned. I have resolved to do everything humanly possible to prove I was wrong, and I ask and expect that all the agents and friends of the company will assist me in this task.
14 February 1936
The Austin Motor Company announced a big extension scheme and centralization of all departments in one factory. The directors a few days ago authorized the expenditure of £399,000 in the erection 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.
20 January 1937
Lord Austin on Trade Confidence
Planning to Avoid a Relapse
Lord Austin appealed to members of the Federation of British Industries at a meeting at Manchester yesterday neither to think nor to use the words depression and slump. He said he personally did not see why the good times should not carry on indefinitely. He did not remember a time when we could look forward with greater confidence to the future, or when our industrial resources were better equipped to take their share in a steady advance to national security. Let the economists and financial experts put on their thinking caps and try to catch up with the engineers, and then slump periods, like plagues, would be things of the past. The prospects were bright, and there was no need for anxiety as to what was going to happen in two or three years. Let us resolve to do everything in our power to foster a spirit of confidence.
Lord Austin, who was speaking on " keeping, a grip on prosperity," said that in the motor industry they were enjoying the busiest period of their 37 years' history. At their works at Longbridge they were working to capacity and had more than 20,000 workpeople. In another four or five months they might have another 5,000. National confidence was returning. There was a freeing of money, an inducement to spend, not hoard. Depression was an entirely man-made state of affairs. Depressions were not caused by a real lack of demand, for there was no falling off in the wants or requirements of the people even though there might be the lack of a medium wherewith to purchase.
Present-day demand was greater than ever before. A commission of experts, consisting of industrialists, bankers, and economists, should be set up to suggest what steps should be taken to prevent a situation so often experienced in the past ever becoming possible again. We were still trying to reconcile the highly productive era of the twentieth century with the economic structure of the nineteenth.
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.
5 July 1937
Lord Austin - Doctor of Law
At Birmingham University in the Great Hall, the Chancellor (Lord Cecil of Chelwood) conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Law on Lord Austin, chairman and founder of the Austin Motor Compa ny.
16 Sept 1937
Mr. Ernest Brown visits Longbridge
At the conclusion of his tour of Government training centres in Birmingham and of the Austin Motor Works at Longbridge. Mr Ernest Brown, Minister of Labour, said he asked Lord Austin what was his firm's attitude towards the problem of elderly men. He was told that in the past six months the firm had engaged 646 men over 40 years of age, 150 men over 50, and six, men over 65. That said Mr. Brown, was an, example which he would like to see all large firms follow.
21 October 1937
Lord Austin, speaking on "British Industry," at a dinner to agents representatives of the Austin Motor Company Limited at Grosvenor House last night, gave figures as to the growth of the business since the introduction of the Austin cars in 1906.
Nearly three-quarter of a million motor-cars, he said, had left Austin assembly lines since that date. The company had paid out to agents, in form of discounts, rebates, and bonuses more than £32,300,000. During the same period purchases at Longbridge works for materials and plant had exceeded £80,000,000. Motor-car manufacture had become one of the largest industries in the country. The industry provided the Exchequer with one-tenth of the National revenue.
For the sake of industrial prosperity, he trusted that we should see in the very near future the requirements in raw materials and manufacturing, equipment - resuming more normal price: levels. While increased prices did to some extent act as a stimulant to industry, there was a very real danger of' a brake being put on the trade momentum if they advanced beyond their present high levels.
Lord Greenwood, paying tribute to the results of the distributors and dealers activities, said that there were 3,400 to 3,500 of them throughout the world. With one of the distributors, selling over 9,000 cars a year.
Captain Arthur C R Waite
Jewellery valued at £3,000 was stolen on Saturday night from the home in Bishop’s Avenue, Highgate, of Captain Arthur C. R. Waite. The jewellery consists of a diamond tiara, two diamond and emerald bracelets, a diamond wrist-watch, and diamond and emerald rings, the property of Mrs Waite.
Maids were in the house at the time, but nothing was heard of the thief, who appears to have first entered a dressing room, and, baffled by a door communicating with the bedroom, returned to the balcony and cut a hole in the bedroom window. An emergency telephone call to Scotland Yard brought police cars to the house within less than a minute after the discovery of the theft.
24 February 1938
Presentation to Lord Austin
Cheque for Birmingham Hospital
Lord Austin was to-day presented at Longbridge Works with a cheque for £7,500 on behalf of the Austin distributor and dealer organization, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to mark his golden wedding.
In a speech in acknowledgment, he said that any success he had, was largely due to the loving care and help he received from Lady Austin. The cheque is intended to provide for two wards at Birmingham's new hospital centre, which will cost £1,000,000 and is to be opened by the King and Queen on July 14 1938.
Lord Austin handed the cheque to Mr. J C Parsons. hon. treasurer of the Birmingham United Hospitals. who referred to it as a wonderful indication of the good feeling existing between the Longbridge Works management and that assembly.As spokesman for the subscribers, of whom over 150 out of 1,000 were present, Mr. E. A. RADFORD. M.P., of Manchester, congratulated Lord and Lady Austin on their golden wedding. A book of remembrance containing the names of the subscribers and recording the occasion was also presented to Lord and Lady Austin.
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.
14 June 1938
Purchase Of Aircraft Abroad
Lord Austin On A “Foolish Position”
Lord Austin, speaking at a luncheon which was given at Birmingham yesterday by the National Union of Manufacturers (Midland Area) to meet Midland members of the House of Commons Industrial Group, said that he saw no reason why we must buy aeroplanes from America. He agreed that British firms might not be supplying the quantity of machines required at present but he emphasized the difficulties to be overcome by motor-car manufacturers called upon to build aeroplanes. We ought to ensure, he said, that we did not again fall into such a foolish position as the present one, in which we had to seek the aid of a foreign country.
Lord Austin called upon the Government to give attention to the problem of German motor-cars sold in Britain. To-day, he said, many thousands of German cars were coming into the country, and the conditions in which that competition with the British manufacturers was being created should be exposed. It demanded definite and drastic treatment.
Wing Commander J. A. C. Wright, M.P. for the Erdington Division of Birmingham, said he had heard that since the dangers of competition from German cars had been given publicity one local agent's sale for the cars had practically ceased. He was convinced that if the people of this country realized that every time they bought one of those cars they put a British workman out of work for approximately six months they would give up purchasing them.
22 October 1938
Increased Production and Employment
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 has reported 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 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.
1 March 1939
The King and Queen, attended by the Viscountess Halifax, the Right Hon. Neville Chamberlain, M.P. (Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury; Minister in Attendance), Sir Eric Mieville and Commander Conolly Abel Smith, R.N., arrived at Cofton Station Station this morning, by special train en route to Birmingham, and were received by the Lord Austin.
Their Majesties were conducted to the Austin Aero Factory, Longbridge Works, The King expressed his surprise and satisfaction at the great progress made in production since his visit just under a year ago. After a tour of inspection, rejoined the Royal Train, where The King Queen were received by the Vice-Lieutenant of Warwickshire (The Lord Willoughby de Broke).
On their arrival at New Street station the King and Queen were welcomed by the Lord mayor and the High Sheriff of Warwickshire, Mr Baron Ash, who were presented by Mr Chamberlain, the Minister in attendance, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, commanded by Captain R W Harris, was mounted with band and colours.
18 Mar 1939
Lord Austin’s Complaint of Horse-power Tax
Criticism of the new horse-power tax on cars was made by Lord Austin, speaking at Longbridge, Birmingham, yesterday. He said the Government relies to a considerable extent on the motor industry for the carrying out of the rearmament programme, and the time is ill-advised to threaten its continued development and its capacity for employment.
"The heavy burden of taxation, both on horse-power and petrol, has to a large extent shaped our export destiny, for the comparatively small demand for the larger cars in the home market has made it impossible to get down to export prices. For years this taxation has been so severe that it has almost precluded the higher horse-power British car from the overseas market. This latest blow will probably complete the job."
Unfortunately, it never seemed possible in this country to get the motorist and motoring associations to present a really united front comparable to the cyclists, for example.
The Austin company has refusing to be panicked by the international situation, their confidence in the future being based on the preparedness and strength of this country.
16 Dec 1940
Austin Motor Accounts
The Austin Motor Company, of Birmingham announces that owing to difficulties arising from the war the completion and audit of the company's accounts for the financial year ending July 31 last have not been completed.
As it is necessary to hold a general meeting during 1940 the annual general meeting has been convened for December 30, but no business will be transacted.