The following are descriptions of the main sites used by the Standard Motor Company in the UK.
"Ivy Cottage"- part of the Canley complex, now long demolished.
Conduit Yard, the rear of Smithford St. Coventry
Premises are taken by Reginald Maudslay in 1902. £5000 forwarded by Sir John Woolfe Barry allowed Maudslay to purchase and examine several current one and two-cylinder cars on this site, before embarking on his own manufacturing ideas. The company had no name at this time.
Much Park St. Coventry
The company was founded here in 1903 with £400 worth of machine tools and was outgrown by 1905. Alex Craig built the first Standard here in the summer of 1903 but it was never offered for sale. The production run of two, three and four-cylinder cars was carried out here in 1904. No known car from this era survives. The City Law Courts now occupy the site. A “Blue Plaque” on the wall, sponsored by the Standard Motor Club, and in the shape of an early radiator denotes the approximate site of the factory.
Bishopsgate Green Coventry
The company moved to these premises, now a Coventry City Council depot (CCS) in 1905. These buildings were used solely for coachbuilding after the opening of the nearby Cash's Lane site.
Cash's Lane Coventry
These were formerly the premises of Pridmore and Co. an old elastic weaving firm in a road named after a similar weaving firm. J&J Cash, which still survives elsewhere in Coventry. Standard took on the works in 1908 for chassis assembly and later it was used to build BE12 fighter aircraft. After the transfer of aircraft production to Canley, the works was used as a machine shop for engine parts. It is now occupied by Kwikfit.
Widdrington Rd. Coventry
Strictly speaking, this plant was in Aldbourne Rd, just off Widdrington Road and was where a repair and servicing department was set up in the early twenties. By 1931, the premises were taken over by Riley next door.
The Brewery, Leamington
One of four workshops in Leamington used by the company during the first world war for the filling of ammunition shells. The work was mostly carried out by women, as the majority of able men were using the ammunition in the trenches of Northern France. Does anyone know where the three other sites were?
Ivy Cottage at Canley with a range of Standards outside, then a view of the main factory gates.
The first buildings on this huge greenfield site were established in 1915 with "Ivy Cottage" and a small clutch of assembly buildings. First used for wartime fighter production, the site was rapidly expanded during the twenties and thirties, with moving body assembly established in 1922.
The bulk of Standards were built here as were most postwar Triumphs until 1981. A further New Assembly Hall was built for the Herald, known as the "Rocket range" and opened in 1960. It was later used as Unipart's spares warehouse. After the Leyland takeover, this became the headquarters of the BLMC combine. Sadly, the whole site was demolished in 1995.
The adjoining Fletchamstead South works, built on the original works golf club as a shadow factory just off Tile Hill Lane, was used initially to construct "Oxford" training aircraft, but used latterly as drawing offices and the experimental department. The whole area came into the hands of "Arlington Properties". the British Aerospace subsidiary during BA's reign. The objectives of Arlington were to maximise profits by demolishing the factories and converting the land into commercial and retail units. So it all disappeared, to be replaced by Sainsbury's and other new industrial and retail outlets.
Surviving buildings off the A45 were used by Rover until 1997 when they too were demolished. Only the Standard-Triumph Sports and Social Club, off Tile Hill Lane, built in 1932, still survives - cut off from the remainder of the site by a new road.
The author was saddened to visit the area in the summer of 1996. Ivy Cottage has gone, along with all traces of this huge site. As far as the eye can see, there are desolate piles of building rubble, crossed by a series of new roads. A sad end to such a historic part of British motoring history.
When Ivy Cottage was demolished, the mosaic floor in the entrance hall, in the form of the 20's Standard Radiator badge was lifted (It had been covered by fitted carpet for some years). It is now mounted in a frame and is hung in the upstairs 'Sky Suite' bar at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon. The only part of Ivy Cottage to survive.
A view of the Canley production line, circa 1929.
Banner Lane Coventry
Wartime shadow factory built for Standard to manage in 1939. Bristol Aero-engine manufacture was centred here during the war and over 20,000 units were produced. From 1946, the site was used to produce "Little Grey" Ferguson tractors. Eventually, however, Standard sold out their tractor building interests to the Massey Harris company of Canada in 1958. The money raised enabled Standard to buy Fisher and Ludlow, Beans Foundries and to finance the New Assembly Hall at Canley. Much expanded, it became the largest Tractor plant in Europe, owned by AGCO. In the 2000s Tractor production was transferred to France and the buildings were demolished.
An overhead wartime image of Banner Lane showing the effectve use of painted camouflage to roofs.
Another Standard Shadow works and used for the final assembly of Mosquito aircraft from 1943. The Standard built Mosquito fighter bombers were built at Canley and then transported to Ansty. Over 1000 entered service with the RAF and other airforces. Do any survive?
*Additional reporting supplied by Robin Penrice.
Fisher and Ludlow, Tile Hill
Purpose-built by Fisher and Ludlow in 1938 to build the Flying 8 bodyshells for delivery to Canley. Also used to build Vanguard and 8/10 bodies in the post-war period. Standard purchased Fisher and Ludlow in 1958 with the proceeds of the Ferguson sale and the site was used to build Herald body parts. At one point, Standard planned to construct a moving conveyor along the railway that connects the site to Canley two miles away, but planning permission was never achieved. The site is now the spares department for Peugeot.
Beans Industries, Tipton
Was a large foundry that had grown from the original Bean Car company, (far more profitable than Morris) which if memory serves correct, went bust following a take-over by the Hadfield company - who modified an extremely good product out of its existing market during the recession of the twenties and thirties. There is a well established Car Club for Beans, with quite a few left running and I think they were mass-produced in some quite remarkable ways. The club is at Wendy Cooksey, Springfield, 14 Albert Road, Wokingham, Berkshire RG40-2AL.
Standards bought it with some of the MHF money and continued to use it as a foundry for Standard-Triumph Product castings. A La William Haig "comment" regarding 14 pints a day, the Union at Tipton had negotiated an agreement with the company for 18 pints a day for each foundryman and the apprentices' first job was to go to the pub in the morning at 7-30 to collect the first issue. At the end of the week, he popped along with the money to pay. It was always mild beer, a Midland favourite, which, with an SG of about 2.8, you could drink all day without getting drunk! Indeed, many stopping for a pint with the lads before they went home for tea!
Summer temperatures in the foundry could get as high as 130f. In the winter, of course, it was a marvellous place to work. It was a favourite with STI students and apprentices, for the above reason, but the union was always a little funny about allowing some of their precious allocation of the amber nectar down transient throats, as we were only there for a maximum of three months of work experience, which, over the period, was around 1500 pints of their best Ansells Mild, to their way of thinking!! With the demise of industrial manufacturing in the area, the foundry made its last casting in September 2005 with the factory finally being demolished in 2008. Jonathon Wood has written an excellent book on it called 'The Bean' published by Shire. There is an extensive online article on Beans here:
Bodyshells being welded at Mulliners.
Mulliners, Birmingham, Forward Radiator
I would be pleased to hear from anyone with information about these factories. Please send me an email.
Speke No1 Plant, Liverpool
Built in the sixties to bring additional employment to Merseyside, this was lastly used for TR7 production, until closed by a disastrous strike in the late '70s, causing car building to be abandoned. Now used by a Transport company (must be a pretty big one) I would be pleased to hear from anyone with information about this factory. Please send me an email. Phil Homer
Postscript added June 2005:
This factory is used for several purposes. It is a massive structure and still standing. It is mainly a retail park with different tenants like B&Q. There are some smaller suppliers and retail outlets. You can rent as much or as little space as you wish. Yes, even as a trade union supporter myself, I feel that the strike was madcap. I was only 15 at the time and I aspired to own a TR7 when I grew up. Of course, by the time I could afford to buy a car, the model was ancient history.
The strike from Aug 77 to April 78 was about manning levels - who did what job and when. How times have changed of course!!!! What with the Thatcher revolution. Everyone has to get used to multi-tasking, flexible insecure labour markets - or you can take a walk down the road. Conditions then were a lot better than now I'll bet, and I think a well paying employer (by all accounts), was foolishly sacrificed. Having said that look at the way the car industry has gone. We are no longer a volume car producer (British owned, that is) and maybe Triumph Speke would have closed down sooner rather than later due to globalisation.
This contribution by Nigel Smith
Please make contributions:
I am aware that there are other cars and information that could be added to this site to make it more comprehensive, so if you have material and photographs, please let me know. Please send me, Phil Homer, an email to: Phil Homer