The Auto-Electric company was based in London, although production was apparently undertaken by Murphy Cars and Trucks of Maidenhead (q.v.) which seems to have taken over the entire operation in the 1930s.
In 1924 a three-wheeler 8 cwt parcel van was announced, with the driver sitting under a canopy at the rear. In 1928 a 10 cwt four-wheel chassis was added, and a 15 cwt version come out two years later.
Production of vehicles under the Auto-Electric brand ceased in 1939.
British Electric Vehicles, of Southport, was principally a maker of industrial battery trucks. However, it announced a new 2 ton road-going electric truck in early 1924. It was based on the company’s Super-Giant industrial truck and shared many of its components. A particular feature was the very low loading height of 27 inches.
The firm was based in the Churchtown Works, and this was the district of Southport where the Vulcan factory was sited, so it is interesting to speculate whether there were any connections between the two firms. Likewise Victor also started up in Southport in the 1920s, so was there any link there?
The venture did not last long. In 1926 BEV was bought by Wingrove and Rogers of Kirkby near Liverpool. Road vehicle work was halted and efforts focussed on industrial trucks.
Baker built electrics and petrol vehicles between 1908 and 1923. The company was based in Cleveland, Ohio, and was represented in the UK by Wolseley Motors. It prospered through World War One meeting a demand in the UK that could not be met by domestic firms.
The range of electrics for the United Kingdom was announced in late 1914 and contained models extending from 10 cwt up to five tons.
Brush is a long-established engineering company based in Loughborough. It is probably best known as the builder of railway locomotives, including the Class 9000 units built to haul freight trains through the Channel Tunnel.
Its move into electric vehicles probably began with the appointment of A C Morrison (late of Morrison-Electric) as chief research engineer in 1940. After making some industrial electric stillage trucks designed by Morrison during the Second World War, the design was developed into a three-wheeler vehicle called the Pony.
The appointments were modest: no cab, a simple canopy over the driver and tiller steering. The tiller was part of a self-contained front wheel drive unit, with the motor mounted over the front wheel and connected to the axle by roller chains. The Pony’s primary application was as a small milk float, fitting in between the pedestrian controlled pram and the conventional four-wheelers. The speed was only about 7 mph, the range barely 15 miles, and the payload 10 to 15 cwt but that was sufficient for such work.
Not all carried milk. East Ham took a dozen in 1947 as refuse collectors, and Feltham was another customer. In 1949 Battersea bought three Ponies to collect food waste for feeding to pigs. An even more peculiar application was the purchase of a Pony with trailer to handle movement of Bournemouth Corporation’s 17,000 deck chairs. This tractor version of the Pony was known as the Cob. Tottenham bought a prototype Cob articulated refuse collector.
When Metropolitan-Vickers decided to abandon electric vehicle manufacture during the war, Brush acquired the rights to its designs and by 1948 was marketing a 25 – 30 cwt model embodying a lot of Metrovick characteristics like the Metrovick motor and the frame pinched in the wheelbase to accommodate the battery panniers. A two ton version was added in that year, similar in layout but having twin rear wheels.
Brush was able to produce complete vehicles, offering 25 standard body types plus the option of bespoke bodywork. For example, in 1947 the firm exhibited a mobile shop on a 25 – 30 cwt chassis. This featured a fruit and vegetable servery on the nearside, and a fish counter on the off-side. Just before their nationalisation, the Great Western Railway and the London & North Eastern Railway each ran examples of the 25 – 30 cwt models.
Brush was building large numbers of industrial trucks, but sales of the road vehicles were sluggish. So in 1949, Brush reduced their prices by 25% to try and make them more competitive with petrol vehicles. This did not transform sales, and in 1950 Bush decided to sell of the four-wheel side of the operation to Hindle-Smart (makers of the Helecs range) and concentrate on its distinctive three-wheelers. Quite when production ended is unclear, although a Pony was delivered to an Ipswich hospital in 1967.
Ferdinand Porsche (father of the VW Beetle) invented an unusual electric drive system at the Lohner-Werke in Austria in 1900. The front wheel drive hub motor arrangement was an attractive layout for ambulances and fire engines where easy access to the rear of the vehicle body was an advantage.
In 1911 Johnson & Phillips built the Cedes fire engine with this design, albeit with a petrol engine to power the water pump. London County Council bought two. Cedes also offered a simple rear wheel drive version but production was stopped in 1916 when its Austrian components rendered it an alien product.
Clayton & Shuttleworth was an established builder of steam wagons in Lincoln. The firm experimented with petrol vehicles, but introduced a range of larger electrics rated between 2½ and five tons from 1919. These incorporated a substantial proportion of steam wagon parts.
It focused on the municipal market both in the UK and abroad. It even offered a 5’ 6” wide chassis specially designed to navigate the narrow streets in older cities. The battery-electrics were built in modest numbers until 1930 when the company closed down.
One interesting aspect of some Claytons was the unusual running unit layout. The traction motor was mounted transversely ahead of the rear axle, and drive was taken via a spur gear and countershaft to the differential. Clayton opted for an expensive form of final drive with an overhead worm made of nickel chrome steel driving a phosphor bronze worm wheel. One advantage of this arrangement was that it had an anti-run-back characteristic – the worm wheel cannot turn the worm on a gradient. Another was that, in an era where high machining precision in cutting bevel and spur gears was variable, the worm drive was relatively quiet.
Cleco Electrical Industries of Leicester was primarily a builder of industrial works trucks, but a range of robust road models was developed in the mid-1940s. The first model was a 12 cwt four-wheeler in 1936. By 1940 a 5/10 cwt van or milk float model was offered.
The 1946 range of seven models included the AV3 series of three 10-12 cwt chassis and the BV3 series of three 20-28 cwt machines.
The Bijou (launched in 1948) was the smallest model, with a 6-10 cwt payload. The prototype was used as a bakery van and was based on a simple steel chassis with a light alloy body. The motor and batteries were sited amidships and there was a double reduction rear axle. With a 7½ cu ft body it weighed slightly over one ton. Provision of a speedometer was considered unnecessary as the Bijou’s top speed was unlikely to exceed 12 mph. Cable brakes were fitted. It was priced at £348 for the vehicle and £135 for the battery. In spite of its promise, the Bijou did not go into production.
Road vehicle production ended in 1957, and Cleco devoted itself entirely to industrial platform truck manufacture. Cleco, by the way, was a contraction of Cecil (Leicester) Electrical Company. This firm was absorbed into the new Cleco concern, perhaps as a result of some financial reorganisation.
Crossley Motors of Gorton, Manchester, was already a big manufacturer of heavyweight lorries and buses when it decided to examine the electric vehicle market just before the Second World War. A prototype was built as a 12/15 cwt vehicle but the war halted further development and the project was abandoned when peace returned – by which time the market was already getting a little crowded.
The influence of Alfred E. Morrison and his son, Alfred C., on the British electric vehicle industry in the middle of the twentieth century is extraordinary. As well as building up Morrison, the pair were responsible for important innovations, and A. C. designed vehicles for Brush and also the prototype ACM of 1945. In 1947 this last effort led to the development of the ACM model built by Douglas (Kingswood) Limited in Bristol. Douglas was an engineering firm with a wide range of products, notably motor cycles. Why it entered the electric vehicle market is not clear, maybe it was inspired by Diamond Motors.
The Douglas ACM retained the twin motor layout of the prototype, where one motor was close-coupled to each rear wheel. The suspension arrangement was unusual, featuring quarter elliptics with torque reaction springs to improve road-holding. The structure was semi-integral, with static and dynamic loads being transferred into the body. The range encompassed payloads of 10/15 cwt, 20 cwt and 30/40 cwt. The largest model sold well, with Birmingham Co-operative Society taking 100 between 1946 and 1949.
As well as being built as a milk float the Douglas ACM was employed in other roles. In 1948 a two ton mobile shop was built on a Douglas underframe by Silent Transport of Woking. Customers entered at the front via a nearside door and progressed down a central aisle where goods were displayed on each side. Exterior glazing provided a shop window effect down either side, and a fully-glazed clerestory roof illuminated the interior. At the far end of the aisle was a till, and afterwards customers alighted on to the street.
Douglas was not a financially stable company and into the 1950s its condition worsened. The electric vehicle operation did not last long and the firm was taken over by Westinghouse Brake & Signal Company in 1956.
The Edison electric vehicles were an early example of a powerful brand being applied to a product even though the owners of that brand did not make it. Thomas Edison had developed the Edison nickel-iron battery and this was enthusiastically promoted in the UK from 1913. The managing director of Edison Accumulators Limited was a forceful character named J F Monnot.
To capitalise on the idea of “think electric, think Edison”, Edison Accumulators Limited in London sold a range of American built and Edison-powered vehicles using the same brand. In fact these Edison machines were made by two established builders in Detroit. The Anderson Electric Car Company (which otherwise used the ‘Detroit’ brand) produced smaller 10 cwt models. A single motor was connected to the rear wheels via chain drive.
The bigger Edisons were built by GMC (later the commercial vehicle division of General Motors). A 1915 model had the battery mounted above the wheelbase beneath the driver’s seat, keeping it out of the mud, but this shortened the available load length. The motor sat over the rear axle, driving forward via a shaft made of a piece of twisted spring steel to absorb road shocks. Power passed through a differential and cross shafts, and thence via chain drives to the rear wheels. A long wheelbase 4 ton lorry operated by Hovis appears to have lasted into the 1930s.
By 1919 technology had moved forward to the point where a two ton Edison could be propelled by a pair of motors, driven through reduction gearboxes on to a cardan shaft, and thence via bevel gears and stub axles connecting to the respective rear wheels.
A feature of some Edison electric tippers was a clever low power way to tipping out the contents of the body. A small electric motor turned a threaded shaft carrying a captive nut connected to the underside of the body. As the shaft turned the nut pushed the body backwards to the point where it started to pivot over the edge of the chassis and the load dropped out.
The Edison company worked hard to provide a comprehensive service to operators. This included arranging low-cost insurance policies through Lloyds of London.
Electricars came about largely because of a change in sentiment among British municipalities after the First World War in regard to whether they would buy imported or domestically made electric vehicles. Edison had been importing vehicles from the US for a decade and as sales built up it established a base in Birmingham in 1914. This was to prepare chassis and batteries for the UK market, ready to go to specialist firms for fitting whatever body the eventual customer required.
When hostilities ended there were supply difficulties getting vehicles from America, added to which a major council – the City of Birmingham (an important Edison customer) – raised concerns with the company about whether it was right to import vehicles when so many ex-servicemen were out of work. As a result, Edison agreed that the 25 vehicles it had won a tender to supply would be built in Britain. The batteries would still be imported.
In January 1919 Electricars Limited was set up in Birmingham, apparently as a wholly-owned Edison subsidiary, with J F Monnot as the managing director (he also being the head of Edison Accumulators Limited). It would import Edison chassis, but also build vehicles to Edison designs. Within a year it was producing vehicles designed, as well as built, in the UK.
In November 1920 Edison sold the manufacturing operation to British investors but remained a significant shareholder. Sales appear to have been strong, with a claim that 250 vehicles had been built or imported in Electricar’s first year. The company progressed through various premises in Birmingham over a fairly short period, until in 1938 it settled in Webb Lane, Hall Green – practically the countryside before the Second World War.
When Edison designs were built (presumably under licence) they carried the Electricars brand – so a Detroit design, normally branded as an Edison, would be marketed as an Electricars in the UK. These ‘Edisons’ remained in the catalogue until 1928.
The early range included the W type, using imported Walker components, and the Walker balanced drive arrangement was employed in one and five ton models. Intermediate weight models employed two motors. By 1929 the standard drive arrangement across the range was a single motor transmitting power through a worm-driven live rear axle.
Faced with intense competition from Garrett and others, in 1921 Monnot had conversations with one of Garrett’s directors about whether Electricars might join the AGE combine of which Garrett was a member. These overtures came to nothing and in the long run Electricars prospered from electrics far better than Garrett.
Electricars soon focussed on the municipal market, producing increasingly specialised vehicles – especially for refuse collection. By the early 1930s they ranged from a compact 30 cwt chassis right up to a 7 ton six-wheeler. All these machines were built with a similar basic layout to petrol lorries, with pressed steel frames, a series-wound motor under the cab, and a prop shaft connecting to a fully-floating rear axle.
Electricars was also building up a sizeable business in industrial trucks for use in factories. Some of this industrial truck design crept into its road vehicles, as evidenced by a compact lorry with a crude enclosed cab and flat-bed body operated by Tate & Lyle. It had small solid-tyred wheels, the battery under the cab and the motor in the wheelbase driving a live rear axle.
Sheffield bought a number of Electricars as refuse collectors, with a variety of modern bodywork. There is evidence that Electricars supplied the city with at least one Shefflex-bodied AEC Monarch chassis converted to run on battery power.
The non-municipal markets were not entirely ignored. Its 30 cwt chassis was bought by Midland Counties Dairies to deliver milk out of churns.
In 1928 Electricars announced a new one ton model which strongly resembled contemporary normal control petrol machines. The batteries were housed under the bonnet, with a motor under the driver’s seat and an overhead worm final drive. The advertised price (presumably for the chassis only) was £325. Midland Counties Dairies bought some of these for milk delivery although their high-mounted flat-bed bodywork does not look especially convenient for the job in spite of the 16 inch step height into the cab.
In the 1930s a ten cwt model entered the new market for lightweight local deliveries, not just of milk but also bread, laundry and soft drinks.
A particularly unusual light van was a 1935 CY2 model, fitted with an ‘Airline’ body. Behind the cab the profile curved down to the tail, and the vehicle was used as a demonstrator for the company. After a while it was sold to a local dairy, and surprisingly retained a body which had a lot of style but very little space for any cargo. Perhaps that’s why the dairy owner’s wife used it for shopping trips while petrol rationing was in force.
An important step was taken at the beginning of 1933 when Electromobile was acquired. This firm was a small rival in the municipal market for larger vehicles. Three years later Associated Electric Vehicle Manufacturers (AEVM) was created by Young Accumulators as a means to acquire Electricars and Morrison, along with Hants Electric Chassis, a distributor.
At the time of their amalgamation Electricars and Morrison were responsible for 70% of electric vehicle production by value in the UK. The headquarters at the start were at Hall Green. Over a few years the Electricars range focussed on larger models, whilst Morrison concentrated on the lighter end of the market.
In 1941 AEVM was bought by Crompton Parkinson, a large electrical engineering company. Further product rationalisation took place and the following year a new brand name was announced: Morrison-Electricar. Over time, the Youngs accumulator brand gave way to ‘Crompton’. Incidentally, before it merged with Parkinson, Crompton had produced battery powered double-deck buses in 1909 and had also made innovations in electric vehicle design.
The City of Birmingham was an enthusiastic customer for its local products, acquiring 262 Midlands-built battery-electrics between 1919 and 1948, most of them Electricars. To take a snapshot, in 1935 it was running 148 electric refuse collectors which handled almost 92% of all refuse picked up in the city.
In 1938 the council’s Salvage Department put into service the first of an order for 72 new refuse collectors based on the Electricars DV4 chassis. These were evolutionary rather than revolutionary. They retained a side loading arrangement, without compaction, and the load was tipped out by raising a hydraulic ram on the vehicle at the council’s incineration and generating plant.
Production was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War and the need to fulfil wartime contracts, but continued on and off. The chassis were completed in Birmingham and then sent to the Morrison works outside Leicester where the cab and body were fitted. The last Electricars DV4 was completed in 1944. The Hall Green factory closed that year and AEVM was wound up, although the Electricars name survived as part of Morrison-Electricar.
The story of Electromobile is quite complex. The original British firm of this name was established in London around 1900 to supply cars. Starting out with imported French Krieger machines, from 1902 the company produced its own designs, aimed at a wealthy clientele. The chassis were built by Greenwood & Batley of Leeds and the bodies were by the Gloucester Carriage & Wagon company, among others. This market declined as firms like Daimler and Rolls-Royce began producing reliable and luxurious petrol cars and by 1910 the firm was making London taxis.
The name re-emerged around 1914, when Electromobiles Limited was established in Leeds. The plan was to use chassis from nearby Greenwood & Batley on their own 15 cwt design and also import electrics from America made by Commercial Truck (CT). CT was based in Philadelphia, and was taken over by Walker in 1928. Whether the Greenwood & Batley link signifies any connection with the earlier London business is unclear.
In 1916 the firm announced it had secured exclusive rights to market the Urban range of American vehicles, covering payloads ranging from 10 cwt to three tons. Urbans were built by the Kentucky Wagon Manufacturing Company of Louisville but production ended in 1918.
The following year Electromobile became the sole UK distributor of CT electrics. The chassis were imported as kits for assembly at the Leeds works. However war conditions made importation more and more difficult, so Electromobile started to build CTs under licence.
The design emphasis was on simplicity. Heavier models were four-wheel drive with a motor mounted on each wheel. The motors were interchangeable front and rear and side to side, as were the springs and the axle forgings. It was claimed there were fewer parts on these four-wheel drive machines than on many competitors’ two-wheel drive units.
The two tonner was, in fact, front wheel drive with a very simple trailing axle. The batteries were housed in a compartment behind the cab. On this and other models, ergonomics was definitely not a consideration. A photograph of the five tonner in Marshall’s 1925 overview of the manufacturers shows a very robust looking tipper with a rudimentary cab perched ahead of the front wheels and reached by tiny and inconveniently placed steps.
On the other hand, Electromobiles were designed to be rugged and suitable for work in tough conditions. A four-wheel drive five ton tipper, sent for a long-term trial with the City of Birmingham for refuse collection, was kept for several months to see how it could handle wintry conditions. It had a shed-like cab with room for the driver and four others and the firm happily claimed that it could be safely overloaded by fifty per cent!
Throughout the 1920s Electromobile supplied a modest number of vehicles to municipalities and commercial enterprises, but does not seem to have been able to achieve the sales of fleets of machines achieved by competitors like Electricars and Garrett. By 1929 the company could offer a range from 10 cwt to ten tons.
In around 1921 the company moved to larger premises in Otley, a small town north west of Leeds. The site was next to a railway and this might have influenced the choice of site because Electromobile started manufacturing small electric rail shunters. In addition it also produced a variety of battery-electric industrial trucks and mobile cranes – plus a small number of petrol-driven vehicles.
The sad death of Charles Conradi, its energetic managing director, from tuberculosis in 1928, and the impact of the depression left Electromobile seriously weakened and it was taken over by Electricars in 1933 after which production soon ended.
Elite Electric Vehicles of Cardiff imported vehicles manufactured in Germany, beginning in 1922. The range encompassed models with payloads from 8 cwt to five tons, and various motor configurations. The smallest was a three-wheel machine with the motor above the front driving wheel.
The oddest was an electric horse. The tractive unit had a rigid front axle with the motor fitted within in. Thus for steering, the whole axle had to pivot. Retractable legs were employed to support this unit until it was a connected to whatever two wheeled body was selected. This could be a refuse collector, a street sweeper, or even a street washer fitted with a giant rotating squeegee. The vehicle was also fitted with auxiliary steering, so it could be controlled by the driver walking beside the machine.
The Erewash Electric Vehicle Company was set up by the Hartshorn bodybuilding company of Heanor, Nottinghamshire, in 1935 and named after the local river (pronounced ‘Erra-wash’).
Its first model, a 15 cwt milk float, was specifically designed to handle steep gradients (of which there are a lot in that part of the country). It was offered at £294 complete and featured a foot operated speed control.
This looked pretty conventional but in 1937 it unveiled a truly bizarre-looking one ton streamlined van with a Hartshorn body. As well as swooping lines it featured a sliding door in the front panel to speed up deliveries. The batteries were not very conveniently located under trap doors inside the body and the rear axle was a double reduction unit which seems a complex and expensive choice. The customer was Clark’s Dyeworks of nearby Retford.
The company failed to make an impact on the already crowded market for lighter vehicles and ceased trading in 1940.
Richard Garrett & Sons was founded in 1778 as a maker of agricultural machinery. Based in the small town of Leiston in Suffolk, the company progressed from steam-powered farm equipment in the 19th century to building its first steam wagon in 1904 and was one of the biggest producers of these. It decided to enter the battery-electric market around 1915 with plans for a five ton payload machine. In response to interest from the Great Eastern Railway this eventually turned into a 3½ ton payload flat-bed lorry that was tried out in Norwich.
Two years later series production began with three models – the No. 3 (1½ tons payload), the No. 4 (2½ tons) and the No.5 (3½ tons). The decision to share components across the range meant that the 1½ tonner was considerably heavier that it needed to be to carry its intended payload. On each model the motor was mounted transversely ahead of the rear axle, driving a chain connected to a differential cross shaft which had roller chains to propel each rear wheel.
The batteries were mounted in boxes on rails in the wheelbase to facilitate inspection. A special truck could be wheeled against each battery box, the discharged cells slid out, and then a second truck could bring a fresh battery to be slid in.
The First World War put an end to several of Garrett’s most important export markets for agricultural equipment. Russia was in turmoil after the revolution, central European markets had turned nationalist in their buying policies, and the impossibility of delivering machinery far overseas opened up opportunities to American suppliers. Faced with an 80% collapse in sales of some products, in 1919 Garrett joined several other venerable firms to create Amalgamated & General Engineers (AGE).
The aim was to create a British entity with the scale to compete internationally with the growing American firms. One aspect was centralising sales at corporate headquarters in London. This proved both a heavy overhead and also misguided because the techniques used by salesmen to sell electrics they did not understand much about led to accusations of miss-selling. These arose since vehicles failed to achieve the performance and range claimed for them.
The UK market for electrics did not reach the scale enthusiastic firms banked on. Electricars and Newton both entered the fray in 1920 and the latter in particular was prepared to fight hard for orders. In this climate to get any orders meant heavy price cutting and when the full costs were taken into account many Garrett vehicles were sold at a loss. It did not help that AGE had insisted that vehicles should be built for stock instead of to order. The lack of interest in these from customers added another burden to the balance sheet.
A 2½ tonner was added in 1921 using the same design philosophy as the Nos. 3, 4 and 5. That year an entirely new model, the 1½ ton C, was introduced which lay much emphasis on reducing unladen weight. It had a Bull motor (made within the AGE group) driving a prop shaft to a worm drive on a Timken Detroit rear axle. Its chassis was 15 cwt lighter than that of a No. 3.
In spite of these advances just seven were sold. The G was more successful. This also had the more modern running unit layout and was aimed principally at the refuse collection market. A variant was the articulated GT which was connected to a refuse collector semi-trailer, the single example of which went to the City of Norwich.
The G sold quite well, ultimate achieving 26 sales. Overall, Garrett’s output was modest; its best year for producing battery vehicles was 1923 when it sold 40 of all types. In the following four years it sold only 56 battery-electrics and there was a debate within the management about whether to abandon the market. In the meantime Garrett had started building trolleybuses and sold 50 in two years.
A two ton model unveiled in 1925 was offered with the option of having kerbside control so it could be operated by someone walking along the pavement – aimed at door to door delivery work. This extraordinary set up involved having a detachable vertically-mounted steering wheel and a traction lever connecting up with the main controls. It is not clear whether there were any fail-safe arrangements, and it was even fitted to the giant GT sent to Norwich.
However there was a sensational swansong to Garrett’s electric vehicle interlude, the GTZ. This vehicle was built in response to Glasgow Corporation’s ambitious plan to have a system for quietly collecting refuse at night from tenements south of the River Clyde and then incinerating most of it at a new plant in Govan to generate electricity.
In order to produce a vehicle that met the city’s exacting requirements Garrett came up with a highly advanced machine. The chassis height was very low to enable a custom-made side-loading body to be fitted that was easy to load from the kerb. The batteries were contained in a box above the frame and behind the front axle. The space available for batteries would not accommodate standard Chloride batteries (Garrett’s favoured supplier) but Tudor was prepared to supply cells of a non-standard size. The cab was mounted ahead of the front axle and set reasonably low.
The prototype was completed in February 1927 and featured a single-person cab (cabin would be a better description), but the production vehicles that followed later in the year had a full-width cab with space for the crew.
The fleet was built up to the point where the Govan plant was officially opened in April 1928. Laden dustcarts would drive up a ramp to a shed where each would stop alongside an open hatch. An overhead crane would hoist up one side of the body to discharge its load into the hatch. Metal debris would be separated from the load and the remainder burned.
By 1930, 46 GTZs had been delivered to Glasgow, all of them with a low body. Deliveries from 1931 featured a taller body, still working on the same principle, with room for the bulkier refuse that was becoming the norm.
By 1934 Glasgow wanted pneumatic tyres on new deliveries which meant the bodywork had to be adapted so that sideways discharge was possible without it fouling on the larger tyres. Garrett also supplied the corporation with kits to retrofit the existing fleet to take pneumatics.
The last four GTZs were supplied in 1937 and carried a more modern-looking cab. There was a good deal of weight saving in the components in order to reduce their Road Tax burden, but this came at the expense of durability. There was only one other customer; nearby Paisley bought a pair with an arrangement to use the Govan works.
The Glasgow GTZ fleet ultimate numbered 65 vehicles. They proved to be very durable and were well-liked by the corporation and the refuse collectors. Although they were purchased to be able to operate quietly at night, in practice they worked double shifts (always having a spare set of charged batteries ready to be inserted in ten minutes), meaning that they accumulated millions of miles between them.
By the late 1930s the reducing purchase and operating costs of diesel and petrol driven vehicles became inescapable and reluctantly Glasgow moved away from electrics. Indeed, one additional GTZ was supplied with a Blackstone diesel engine. That said, a small fleet of extra electrics was was built by Metrovick pre-war on similar lines to the GTZs, and another by Tilling-Stevens post-war.
The nature of refuse became increasingly bulky over the years and thought was given to fitting them with compactor bodies to extend their lives but this came to nothing. The last of them were retired as late as 1964, even though the Govan generating plant was shut in 1960.
The GTZ chapter includes the point where AGE collapsed in 1932. Thanks, among other things, to poor management at the top the combine had not achieved the promised savings, sales growth or profits. When working capital ran out it fell into receivership.
Richard Garrett was taken over by Beyer Peacock, the Manchester-based engineering firm, which slimmed down operations considerably. Output tailed off and the Garrett name disappeared. Between 1917 and 1937 Garrett produced just 243 electric vehicles, and only 31 after 1928 (all but two being the GTZs). And over 60% of the total were to five customers, all municipalities: Glasgow (67), Birmingham (26), Hackney (25), Sheffield (21) and Norwich (11).
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