Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,165 pages of information and 245,632 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


From Graces Guide
April 1902.
1903. Motor Car Works at Beeston, Coventry.
January 1903.
June 1904.
November 1904. Humber depot at Durban.
December 1906.
December 1906.
July 1910.


September 1913.
1914. 10 hp Humber van.
1914. Chassis of Humber light vans.
July 1919.
1922. 11.4 H.P. Humber Engine.
1922.15.9 H.P. Humber Chassis.
1922.11.4 H.P. Humber Chassis.


June 1936.


July 1936.
July 1936.
July 1936.
July 1936.
February 1937.

Based at Nottingham, Beeston, later Coventry.

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

See also -

1868 Thomas Humber made his first cycle[1].

1875 Humber and Marriott formed

1878 Humber, Marriott and Cooper formed [2].

1885 Marriott and Cooper separated into their own company

1885 T. Harrison Lambert became a partner with Thomas Humber.

Martin Diederich Rucker became manager of the London branch of Humber and Co.

1887 April: Humber and Lambert agreed to sell the Humber business to William Horton [3].

1887 Humber and Co was formed to amalgamate 4 cycle businesses acquired by William Horton, Joseph Horton, Edward Alfred Hicks, Christopher Norris Baker and others [4] [5]:

The directors listed as:

M. D. Rucker became general manager of Humber Limited.

1889 E. F. Johnson joined the company as clerk to M. D. Rucker

At some point, Humber needed more space and moved from its original factory in Beeston, south of the railway station, to another location on the outskirts of the village, in a purpose-built factory [6].

1890 Case brought by Bown against Centaur Cycle Co, alleging infringement of patent; referred to earlier case against Humber; decision in favour of Centaur [7].

1892 When Thomas Humber retired, Rucker was made General Manager. Backed by Ernest Terah Hooley they opened subsidiary companies in the France, USA, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden and Russia.

1893 For many years all Marriott and Cooper machines were made for them by Rudge Cycle Co, of which Walter Phillips, an old professional racing colleague of Fred Cooper, was manager[8]. In April, Phillips left the Rudge Co. and joined Humber’s; after that time, Marriott and Cooper machines were built in the Humber factory.

1894 Around this time, G. P. Mills was chief designer at Beeston.

1896 The prototype Pennington was built under the supervision of Thomas William Blumfield

1896 The Humber Extension Co was formed to handle the wholesale and retail departments of the business [9]. It later became apparent that the agreement to transfer these responsibilities as well as the goodwill of Marriott and Cooper had been sold for £5000 yet the combined enterprise had been sold to the Extension Company for £100,000; unsurprisingly, both Harry Lawson and E. T. Hooley had been involved in this scheme; the directors faced severe questions from the shareholders [10].

1896 Rucker and directors were dismissed. This was at/about the same time as major fire at the Coventry Works.

1896 Walter Phillips was Manager [11] of the Coventry works.

1896 C. H. Shacklock, the manager of the Wolverhampton cycle factory, designed a motor car.

1897 At the 1897 Stanley Cycle Show they exhibited 'motor cycles, electric and oil'. The three electric-motor tandems were designed for pacing purposes. Also shown was a three-wheel motor carriage. [12]

1898 Hooley was bankrupted and the Humber company closed down its overseas operations.

1898 Advert: Humber and Co: manufacturers of the celebrated Humber cycles; Beeston-Humber cycles are recognised as the best; first use of aluminium tubes; Wolverhampton-Humber cycles are exact copies of those made at Beeston; Coventry-Humber cycles at prices within the reach of all [13].

1898 At the 1898 Stanley Cycle Show they exhibited the Sociable, a three-wheeled tricar.

1899 Marriott and Cooper was purchased by financial interests who combined it with the Humber Company and the Humber Extension Co and floated the combination as Humber Ltd.

1899 Produced the Phaeton, a car with a single-cylinder engine and a tubular steel frame[14]

1900 The company was registered as Humber Ltd on 27 March, to amalgamate the cycle manufacturing businesses of Humber and Co, and Humber and Co (Extension)[15]. Number of employees at Beeston about 2000[16].

1900 Humber Cycle Co closed the works in Great Brick kiln street, Wolverhampton, and transferred the business to the works at Beeston, leading to a considerable increase in number of employees there [17].

1900 Produced 3, 3.5 and 5 h.p. Phaeton models.[18]

1900 E. Powell was appointed as Managing Director.

1901 The Humber: 4.5 h.p. was introduced - this was built under licence from the British Motor Traction Co, powered by a 4.5 h.p. De Dion-Bouton engine.

1906 Humber-Cordner 3-speed gear being fitted as standard to cycles at Beeston works [19].

1907 Beeston factory closed and business transferred to Coventry. About 3000 of the Beeston population moved to Coventry[20].

1908 March. New works at Folly Lane, Coventry opened. Works cover 13.5 acres and are capable of producing 75,000 cycles and 7,500 automobiles per annum and employ 5,000 persons.[21][22]

1909 Became a public company.

1910 February. Announced they were making monoplanes and biplanes at Coventry.

1913 Humber was the second largest manufacturer of cars in the United Kingdom.

1926 Bought Commer Cars of Luton

1927 The AGM was told by S. Brotherhood, chairman, about progress by Humber and Commer Cars Ltd; Humber was making 3 models of cars[23]

1928 November. Formation of the Humber Combine by merging with Hillman. The 2 factories were on adjacent sites with some complementary facilities - Humber had good foundries but few stamping facilities whilst Hillman had no foundries but good stamping facilities[24]. Head of the new concern was Lieut-Col. J. A. Cole (MD of Humber), Captain S. Wilkes (Joint MD of Hillman) and Captain J. Black (Joint MD of Hillman). Also on the board were S. Brotherhood and Sir Henry McMahon. Rootes who had handled the export sales provided the cash and owned 60% of the shares. [25] [26]

1931/2 Hillman and Humber were taken over by the Rootes Group. The cycle business sold to Raleigh.

1961 Listed as a subsidiary of Rootes Group and in turn owns Hillman. [27]

1961 Manufacturers of Humber, Hillman, Singer and Sunbeam cars, and Commer and Karrier commercial vehicles and diesel engines. [28]


  • Coventry-Humber is mentioned at CWN (Coventry and Warwickshire Network) [1]
  • The Grampian Transport Museum has a Beeston Humber
  • Beeston Humbers are discussed in Motor Cyclists on Tour, 1903 [2]
  • Humber 1903 Advertisement [3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Dec 08, 1927
  2. The Times, 9 February 1898
  3. The Morning Post, 17 June 1887
  4. The Morning Post, 17 June 1887
  5. The Times, Saturday, Jun 18, 1887
  7. The Times, 21 November 1890
  8. Bartleet's Bicycle Book
  9. The Graphic, 5 March 1898
  10. The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, 24 November 1899
  11. The Times, Tuesday, Sep 29, 1896
  12. The Autocar. 27th November 1897
  13. The Times, 9 February 1898
  14. British Motor Cars 1950/51
  15. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  17. The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, 31 August 1900
  18. The Humber Story by Demaus and Tarring. Published 1989. ISBN 0-86299-596-5
  19. The Times, 6 April 1906
  21. Automotor Journal 1908/03/14
  22. Automotor Journal 1908/03/21
  23. The Times, Dec 08, 1927
  24. The Times, Nov 21, 1928
  25. The Times, Wednesday, Nov 21, 1928
  26. The Times, Monday, Nov 21, 1949
  27. 1961 Guide to Key British Enterprises: Motor, Motor-Cycle and Commercial Vehicle Manufacturers
  28. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  • Wikipedia
  • 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