Leeds Engine:Histories: Car Makers

Hunslet Engine built Scootacar
Scootacar made by Hunslet Engine Co (Photo - Andrew Johnson)

A Brief History of Car Manufacturing in Leeds

All | Appleyard of Leeds | Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co | Day - Leeds | Dougill's Engineering | Electromobile (Leeds) | Ginetta | Glover's Motors | Greenwood & Batley | Hunslet Engine Co | Rice & Co | Rodley | Sterling Engineering | West Leeds Motor Co

Were there any cars made in Leeds? The simple answer to this is YES. It gets rather more complex as the majority of the vehicle makers in Leeds were involved with commercial and military vehicles. In the early days of motoring we also find several small firms in little back street garages that might once have been the local smithy turning their hands to vehicle production. In some cases there is little more than a reference in an old trade directory to tell of these firms and below we list some of the firms found in the directories available online through the Graces Guide website.

Greenwood & Batley
We may think of electric cars as being a 21st Century innovation, however they go back as far as motoring itself. In 1902 Electromobile of London (not to be confused with Electromobile (Leeds)) announced their intentions "This company has been formed for the purpose of establishing, first in London and subsequently in larger provincial centres, depots for the sale, hire, storage, repair, and charging of electric vehicles."
They qualify for inclusion on our site as the chassis of their electric vehicles were produced by Greenwood & Batley in their Albion Works in Armley. "The Company has entered into an agreement with Messrs. Greenwood & Batley, Ltd of Leeds, under which the latter company, who are the owners of the patents for the manufacture of Electric Motor Carriages."..."to manufacture the chassis or under-carriages for eletric landaulettes, broughams, victorias and other carriages.
Under the agreement Greenwood & Batley supplied 303 chassis, though most of these are believed to have been in the first five years. Many of the bodies were supplied by Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon works.

Above - Electromobile's Victoria car (Photo - Graces Guide).

Electromobile's designs seem to have remained the same until after the First World War when their Elmo model appeared, though the company seems to have disapeared around 1920. This is possibly a consequence of the development of petrol cars over the war and the large number of surplus petrol vehicles after the war that found their way in to civilian use.
Electromobile were also the sole UK importer of German built Opel cars from 1908, a deal which was presumably ended at the start of the First World War.

Internal Website Links
If road vehicles is your thing, the next size up on our site is our page on bus making in Leeds
As well as the Hunslet vehicle used in the Alien film we have a list of Leeds built items in films

External Website Links
Much of the information on this site was found in Graces Guide online material on Britain's industial heritage.
Scootacar Register
The Leodis website has several images relating to Appleyard of Leeds
Ginetta's website

This article was produced by Kris Ward and Andrew Johnson, any feedback or contributions about the Leeds engine making industry would be greatly appreciated.