Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

F. W. Berwick and Co

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May 1913.
January 1919.

Licorne and Sizaire-Berwick cars

In 1912 Frederick William Berwick was running F. W. Berwick and Company Ltd with showrooms at 18 Berkeley Street, London W1 where he sold both new and used cars, and repair facilities at Balham in South London. Berwick had financial backing from Alexander Keiller (a famous Dundee marmalade maker).

In 1912 the motoring journalist W. F. Bradley, based in Paris, brought together Berwick with brothers Maurice and Georges Sizaire who were looking for a new patron. Maurice was the designer, whilst Georges developed and raced the cars. An agreement was reached where Maurice would design a car along lines agreed with Berwick and to be built in Paris.

A prototype was completed in 1912 and had a radiator that closely resembled Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce sued over the design, but had to pay damages when it was discovered that although Sizaire-Berwick had registered the design, Rolls-Royce had not. Sizaire-Berwick were persuaded to alter their design to a slight vee shape.

A few cars were ready for both the Paris Salon and the London Motor Show of 1913 and a production of five cars a week followed until August 1914. Chassis were driven to the coast in groups of three and road-tested en-route by Jack Waters, prior to shipping to England. Pre-war bodies were built and fitted at Highgate, London NW6. At the outbreak of war the remaining completed chassis were bodied in London as armoured cars for the Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS).

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices for Sizaire-Berwick see the 1917 Red Book

WWI During the war the Highgate works concentrated on war production, mainly the building of bodywork onto various truck chassis including Leyland. Berwick negotiated substantial Government contracts for building aero engines and de Havilland ( Airco) aircraft.

A site at Abbey Road, Park Royal, in north-west London was acquired and eventually had 5,800 employees at its wartime peak. Berwick had planned the new factory with post war car production in mind and after the war the production of the Sizaire-Berwick car would be undertaken in England. Coachbuilding was also carried out on this site, (coachbuilders working there included Webb, Park and Ward, both to later have their own coachbuilding firms).

In 1919 David Dalzeil became chairman and C. J. Ford joined the board.

Some 200 cars were sold before the Official Receiver was called in during October 1920 although production continued until 1922.

The Sizaire brothers and Berwick had left the company by the end of 1922. An agreement had been made with the Austin Motor Company during the war to fit bodywork to some Austin models at Park Royal. Two Austin directors Herbert Austin and Harvey Du Cros, joined the board and from October 1922 some cars were offered through the Austin network.

The Park Royal works closed in 1924.

Berwick was later connected with the Windsor Light Car made at Lancaster Road, London W11. Produced by James Bartle and Co. C. S. Windsor had taken control of Bartle's company in 1910.

Berwick helped to create British Salmson Aero Engines in 1929 to build aero engines. (The first car appeared in 1934).

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] British Motor Manufacturers Web Site
  • Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps (Military Wing) by J. M. Bruce. Published 1982 ISBN 0-370-30084-x