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British Industrial History

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Rover

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Advertising Sign.
December 1906.
March 1907. New London depot.
September 1908.
May 1944.
June 1953.

of Meteor Works, Lode Lane, Birmingham

Rover was a British manufacturer of bicycles, motorcycles and cars.

See also -

1905 The name was changed in November from the Rover Cycle Co to the Rover Co.

1910 John E. Greenwood joined and designed a 3.5 hp machine

c1910 George William Ravenhall was Works Manager

WWI. During the First World War, they made motorcycles, lorries to Maudslay designs and not having a suitable one of their own, cars to a Sunbeam design.

WWI Rover Company made an agreement with Victor Riley for post-war manufacture of the Rover small car[1]

They acquired a factory at Tyseley

1919 Colonel W. F. Wyley (Chairman), Harry Smith (MD), J. K. Starley, Mark Wild [2]

The business was not very successful during the 1920s, and did not pay a dividend from 1923 until the mid 1930s.

1926 J. K. Starley is MD. [3]

1929 there was a change of management with Spencer Wilks coming in from Hillman as general manager. He set about reorganising the company and moving it up market to cater for people who wanted something "superior" to Ford and Austin.

1930 He was joined by his brother Maurice Wilks, who had also been at Hillman as chief engineer. Spencer Wilks stayed with the company until 1962 and his brother until 1963.

1932 E. Ransom Harrison (Chairman) and H. Rowe Graham. [4]

In the late 1930s, in anticipation of potential hostilities which would become World War II, the British government started a re-armament programme and as part of this "Shadow Factories" were built. These were paid for by the government but staffed and run by private companies. Two were run by Rover, one at Acocks Green, Birmingham, started operation in 1937, and a second, larger one at Solihull, started in 1940. Both were employed making aero engines and airframes. The original main works at Helen Street, Coventry, was severely damaged by bombing in 1940 and 1941, and never regained full production.

1940 In early 1940 Rover were approached by the government to support Frank Whittle in developing the gas turbine engine. Whittle's company, Power Jets had no production facilities and the intention was for Rover to take the design and develop it for mass production. Whittle himself was not pleased by this and did not like design changes made without his approval but the first test engines to the W2B design were built in a disused cotton mill in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, in October 1941.

1942 Rolls-Royce took an interest in the new technology and an agreement was reached in 1942 that they would take over the engines and Barnoldswick works and in exchange Rover would get the contract for making Meteor tank engines which actually continued until 1964.

After the Second World War, the company abandoned Helen Street and bought the two Shadow Factories. Acocks Green carried on for a while making Meteor engines for tanks and Solihull became the new centre for vehicles with production resuming in 1947..

1946 Maurice Wilks became technical director. The company was in difficulties because steel quotas were allocated on the basis of a company's export sales, and the Rover luxury cars did not sell well overseas. Faced with an allocation of steel enough for only 1100 cars, instead of the 20,000 planned annual output, Rover needed a short-term project to keep the production lines running at Solihull. This led in 1947 to the development of the Land Rover, based on the American jeep, by Wilks and his design team. The Land Rover was produced at Solihull.

1947 E. Ransom Harrison (Chairman), [5]

Launched in 1948, the Land Rover, a small four-wheel drive vehicle, was originally intended as a farm vehicle, to be more versatile than a jeep. An immediate success, used as much on the road as off it, it sold better than the Rover luxury cars. The Land Rover saved the company, and turned Rover primarily into a manufacturer of light commercial vehicles.

1953 Private company formed as subsidiary: Rover Gas Turbines Ltd[6]

1954 E. Ransom Harrison retires due to ill health and H. Rowe Graham is new chairman. [7]

1956 H. Rowe Graham (Chairman) [8]

1958 Spencer Wilks is Chairman. [9]

1961 Rover Company were manufacturers of "Rover" cars and "Land Rover" commercial vehicles. [10]

1964 69th AGM. L. G. T. Farmer is Chairman. [11]

1965 Bid for Alvis [12]

1967, Rover became part of the Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC), which already owned Triumph.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Archives of Rover Co [1]
  2. The Times, Thursday, Oct 09, 1919
  3. The Times, Friday, Mar 05, 1926
  4. The Times, Friday, Dec 02, 1932
  5. The Times, Thursday, Jan 16, 1947
  6. The Times Sep 03, 1953
  7. The Times, Friday, Oct 15, 1954
  8. Times, Friday, Nov 23, 1956
  9. The Times, Tuesday, Nov 25, 1958
  10. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  11. The Times, Wednesday, Nov 18, 1964
  12. The Times, Saturday, Jun 05, 1965
  • Wikipedia on Rover Cars
  • Trademarked. A History of Well-Known Brands - from Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar by David Newton. Pub: Sutton Publishing 2008 ISBN 978-0-7509-4590-5
  • Coventry’s Motorcycle Heritage by Damien Kimberley. Published 2009. ISBN 978 0 7509 5125 9