Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Pelican Engineering Co

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July 1938. Federal agents.
July 1938.

The Pelican Engineering Company

1919 The company was formed by Ernest Crump. He used his army discharge pay to place a deposit on a small shed at Scout Hill, Dewsbury and within 12 months he was employing four men in converting surplus military vehicles into a road worthy specification.

By 1928, the company was doing so much business that it needed to move to larger premises in Pepper Road, Hunslet, Leeds .

1931 Pelican was made an official agent for Gardner oil engines confirming a partnership that would last for over 60 years.

Between 1931 and 1940 the company carried out over 800 conversions, removing petrol engines from buses and trucks and replacing them with Gardner diesel engines. Also during the thirties, Pelican became involved with Foden Trucks of Sandbach, Cheshire whose vehicles were becoming an increasingly common sight on the roads.

1934 Pelican became the official Yorkshire selling agent for Foden Trucks. Like Pelican, Foden was a family run business with a history dating back to the steam engines of the previous century.

WWII Throughout the Second World War, Pelican worked almost exclusively for the Ministry of Defence, involved in the preparation and refurbishment of army trucks which meant the firm was able to grow further during these most difficult of times.

By 1946 the business had outgrown the Pepper Road site and the decision was taken to move again, this time to the old tram workshops at Bell Hill, Rothwell.

1952 Ernest Crump's only son, Bob joined the company after completing his national service in 1952.

1968 Ernest Crump died leaving the business to his son Bob.

By 1980 the Bell Hill site had trebled in size and employed more than 50 people. The Gardner engine reconditioning business was in decline and the company had moved into the manufacture of specialist marine generating sets for trawlers and small ships. Initially this business was based on the Gardner engine but this later changed to incorporate Cummins and Caterpillar engines.

1980 Foden went into receivership and was subsequently bought by the American multinational Paccar. Paccar owned Kenworth and Peterbilt in America and wanted to expand into the European market. After the initial uncertainty surrounding the takeover confidence was restored as Paccar began to invest in the future of Foden. The company was steadily able to increase its Foden business in the eighties culminating in the sale of a record 350 Fodens in 1989.

1991 Pelican took on a Seddon-Atkinson main dealership which was operated as a separate company, Knottingley Trucks from premises in Knottingley village.


See Also

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Sources of Information

[1] Pelican Engineering Web Site