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British Industrial History

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Rotax Motor Accessories Co

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Rotax, manufacturer of automotive electrical equipment, of Rotax Works, Willesden Junction, London, NW10. Telephone: Willesden 2480 (6 lines). Telegraphic Address: "Rodynalite, 'Phone, London". (1937)

1907 Rotax Motor and Cycle Company, of 43 and 45, Great Eastern-street, London, applied for winding up of Pullcar Motor Co[1]

1908 Rotax Motor and Cycle Co, 43 Gt Eastern St, London Wall[2]

1913 April. Advert for car lighting equipment. [3]

1916 Moved head office to Willesden Junction, London NW

1917 Rotax (Motor Accessories) Ltd was formed by the brothers Eugen and Hermann Aron, with a nominal share capital of £175,000 to carry on business as a manufacturer of, and dealer in, all types of motor goods, including batteries and other electrical items. In 1917, Rotax acquired the business of H. T. Saunders and Co, Birmingham.

1920 Leitner dynamo for motor cars. [4]

1920 October. Exhibited at the Commercial Motor Exhibition at Olympia with electrical lighting equipment for commercial vehicles. [5]

1921 Over one-third of the issued capital was acquired by Kynoch. In the same year they amalgamated with Newton Electrical Works, Taunton, a company in which the Aron brothers already had an interest. Lucas's records show that at about this time it was meeting keen competition from Rotax in the supply of electrical equipment for cars. Nobel Industries Ltd, through Kynoch, held a substantial interest in the re-formed Rotax (Motor Accessories) Ltd, and Sir Harry McGowan (later Lord McGowan) joined the Board.

1922 Jaeger speedometers were exhibited by Rotax (Motor Accessories); these were made in France from Swiss parts.

1923 Sir Harry McGowan is understood to have offered the Rotax business to Lucas. There is evidence that in 1923 Lucas and Rotax established some sort of working arrangement.

1925 The Arons suggested that Lucas and Rotax should jointly take over C. A. Vandervell and Co.

1925 Appointed Messrs Nibbs and Scott. as its official service agents for Portsmouth and district.[6]

1926 Nobel Industries became part of ICI. An offer to C. A. Vandervell and Co was made by Sir Harry McGowan on behalf of Lucas. The offer was accepted for a consideration of £321,745 in cash. Lucas took the view that joint management of C. A. Vandervell and Co by Lucas and Rotax would not be successful and it decided to take over Rotax also. The consideration of £707,217 for the purchase of Rotax was satisfied partly in cash but for the most part by the issue of Lucas £1 Ordinary shares. Lucas decided to concentrate manufacture of equipment for the heavier types of vehicles in C. A. Vandervell and Co and to develop Rotax for the manufacture of equipment for aircraft.

1931 the Rotax Company purchased the business of T. Harding, Churton and Co, Ltd., of Leeds,

1931 Newtons of Taunton Ltd merged with T. Harding Churton and Co of Leeds

1932 A new limited company was formed combining both Newton's and Harding & Churton as manufacturers of electrical machinery of all classes.

1933 Rotax Ltd was put into voluntary liquidation[7]

1933 Newtons of Taunton Ltd. made a range of DC and AC motor tools, including special high frequency tools for which the frequency converters were made at Taunton, with the tools themselves being constructed at the firm's Rotax works, Willesden.[8]

1937 British Industries Fair Advert for Electrical Equipment for Modern Aircraft. Also Electrical Tools for Industrial and Garage Equipment: Drills, Polishers, Valve Refacers, Sanders and Grinders, Aircraft Electrical Equipment, Rotary Converters, Car Equipment, etc. (Engineering/Metals/Quarry, Roads and Mining/Transport Section - Stand No. Cb.601) [9]

1937 Lighting and starting equipment, magnetos and radio equipment. "Rotax" Aviation Equipment. [10]

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

From this time Rotax Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lucas, was concerned principally with the production of equipment for aircraft.

Post WWII: Rotax's business declined by 90 percent compared with its wartime activities[11]

1965 Developed gas turbine starters in conjunction with Rover[12]

1968 Rotax took over the GEC-AEI aircraft equipment plant at Coventry and moved most of the operations to Hemel Hempstead[13]

1969 Acquired Vactric Control Equipment and the Special Products Group of English Electric Co which was that company's involvement in electrical engineering for aircraft[14]

1970 Closed the company's second largest factory at Willesden due to lack of orders from new projects for aircraft starters[15]

1971 Became part of Lucas Aerospace when this was established

1972 Sold Vactric Control Equipment to Muirhead and Co[16]

1978 One of the 2 factories at Hemel Hempstead was closed[17]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Competition Commission Web Site
  1. London Gazette 8 November 1907
  2. British Phone Books, 1880-1984
  3. The Autocar of 5th April 1913 pXIX
  4. The Engineer of 9th April 1920 p366
  5. The Engineer of 29th October 1920 p426
  6. The Engineer 1925/06/19
  7. London Gazette 11 April 1933
  8. The Engineer 1933/09/15
  9. 1937 British Industries Fair Advert p637; and p408
  10. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  11. The Times, Dec 12, 1945
  12. The Times, Nov 24, 1965
  13. The Times, Apr 26, 1968
  14. The Times, Nov 18, 1969
  15. The Times, Oct 08, 1970
  16. The Times, Apr 12, 1972
  17. The Times, Apr 10, 1978