By: Lisa Harper
Here at Stoneacre we're proud of our Yorkshire standing; we have around twenty dealerships dotted around the county and our head office is based in Thorne, South Yorkshire. So to celebrate Yorkshire day we’re taking a look at how Yorkshire has influenced motoring success. From the part Yorkshire has played in automobile production, to past and present Yorkshire racetracks, as well as celebrating some of the finest motoring personalities from the county.
Jowett Cars Ltd Bradford
Brothers Benjamin and William Jowett originally set up their company in 1901 with the aim of producing bicycles. However, they soon diversified their efforts and started producing car engines. They officially got their first premises located on Back Burlington Street in Bradford from 1904 and started to develop a prototype vehicle. They also started producing engines for Scott’s motorcycles based in Shipley.
By 1910 Jowett put their first light vehicle into production, with twelve cars produced and sold by 1911.
Progress steadily continued until WW1 when production switched from cars to munitions. This meant it wasn’t until the ‘20s and ‘30s that Jowett really started to make its mark. They launched multiple new models including the ‘Jowett Seven’, ‘Jowett Long Four’, ‘Jowett Kestrel’ and the ‘Jowett Weasel’. In 1922 they exhibited vehicles at the London Motor Show and put Bradford on the motoring map. Even the metropolitan police were fans having multiple Jowett cars within their force into the ‘30s.
WW2 brought about another diversification as priorities switched once again to ammunition production. At the end of the war Jowett brought out the ‘Bradford Van’ and a faster vehicle the ‘Jowett Javelin’. However, the introduction of a 25% car tax cut in 1953 meant larger companies could mass produce cheap cars and smaller companies like Jowett could no longer compete.
Briggs Motor Bodies
Briggs was a motor body parts originally set-up by Walter O’Briggs in 1909 in Detroit. After success in America, he opened up two sites in the UK in 1930, one at Dagenham, Southampton and one in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. They originally produced car body parts for small-scale manufacturers including Jowetts. They were eventually taken over by Ford Motor Company and production levels were scaled up. This meant that by 1959 the Doncaster base was the first plant in Europe to mass-produce cars from start-to-finish.
David Brown and Aston Martin
David Brown started out in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire specialising in the production of gear systems and by 1921 was the world’s largest manufacturer of worm gears. In 1936 production diversified with the manufacture of tractors beginning at their new Meltham site.
However it was in 1947 that things really got exciting. As a fan of motor racing, David Brown jumped at the chance to buy a prestigious motor company ‘Aston Martin’ after seeing an advert in the paper. A year later he bought Lagonda to secure two motoring dynasties.
David Brown is largely credited with making Aston Martin what it is today and his name lives on today in any car carrying the ‘DB’ title.
McLaren has recently taken control of a new fifty million pound facility in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. This brand new McLaren Composites Technology Centre will be key to the continuing production of McLaren. The centre will create the Monocage chassis, a carbon fibre chassis used throughout the entire range of McLaren road cars.
This is a striking investment in Yorkshire and sees a positive move for McLaren as they take control of chassis development; full production is expected to be up and running by 2020.
While he may have grown up in Farnham, Surrey, John Michael Hawthorn, the UK’s first Formula 1 champion driver was actually born in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. He achieved prestigious success winning the 1955 24 hours Le Mans racing for Jaguar followed by his impressive win of the F1 championship in 1958 racing for Ferrari.
Mike was known for racing wearing a bow tie and was even nicknamed ‘Papillon’ or butterfly by French reporters. Tragically Mike had a car accident and passed away mere months after retiring from professional racing.
The renowned motoring journalist and presenter was born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. He started writing for local papers and later moved into motoring journalism. However, 1988 was the pivotal moment of his career when he became one of the new presenters of Top Gear. He enjoyed twelve years presenting before deciding to take a break.
Clarkson re-joined the programme in 2002 following a format overhaul and continued until the controversial fallout with a producer in 2015. Not letting this stop him, Clarkson was soon back on our screen with co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond in Amazon’s ‘Grand Tour’.
Abbie Eaton is a rising star on the racetrack. From Hull, Abbie started racing at just ten years old in karting championships. By 2007 she had completed her first season in race cars in the SAXMAX championship and progressed to adult racing in 2009, at the age of 17. She won the Class B championship outright, winning 15 out of the 18 races she participated in. Following a couple of years struggling with funding, Eaton was back at the top in 2014 winning the Mazda MX5 Supercup Champion.
More recently Abbie was the test driver of the ‘Grand Tour’ for the second season, gaining the job as she was one of the fastest and most dynamic drivers tested. Abbie is also continuing to compete, concentrating on GT races throughout 2018.
North Yorkshire is home to two prestigous tracks:
- Croft Circuit, North Yorkshire – is still home to a number of races throughout the year including Rallycross and a specialist Nostalgia race. Records of the first race date back to 1920s, however, it was after WW2 that it became a significant motorsport venue.
- Oliver’s Mount, North Yorkshire – has the prestige of being England’s only natural motorbike road race track and has been likened to a ‘miniature TT by the seaside’. The first event was held in 1946 and people continue to attend races in record numbers.
While many racetracks have fallen by the wayside in its heyday, Yorkshire was home to a fair few tracks:
- Brough Circuit, East Yorkshire - 1949-1957
- Catterick Circuit, North Yorkshire - 1958-1963
- Elvington, Yorkshire – 1962
- Full Sutton Circuit, Yorkshire – 1958
- Linton-On-Ouse, Yorkshire – 1960-1961
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