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British Industrial History

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Electric Vehicle Co

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2017. Front door of the company's first proper offices. Captain Locock rented offices in Bedford Chambers. (Image: Mick Hamer).

Electric Vehicle Company[1]

Previously Electric Van, Wagon and Omnibus Co.

8 March 1905 Incorporated as Motor Omnibus and Waggon Co, company number 83,846.[2] Company does no business under this name. The company was registered by the Motor Car Emporium.[3]

28 January 1907. Name changed to Electric Van Wagon and Omnibus Co. Dr Edward Lehwess and Captain Edward Locock become directors. Lehwess draws £420 in expenses just to change the company name.[4]

March 1907. At the first international commercial vehicle motor show, held at Olympia, the Electric Van Wagon and Omnibus Co’s display includes a light electric van, two 1-ton vans, a five ton heavy wagon that can run 35 miles on a single charge and an electric ambulance.[5] All these vehicles were powered by American batteries, from the Gould Storage Battery Corporation of Depew, New York State.[6] The company’s registered offices are at 14-15 Bedford Chambers, Covent Garden, offices rented to Locock.

8 May 1907. The company signs a contract to supply the London Electrobus Co with 50 electrobuses.[7] The company’s address is Trafalgar Buildings, Northumberland Avenue.

11 November 1907. Eastbourne Borough Council considers a proposal from the Electric Van Wagon and Omnibus about running electrobuses in the town.[8]

January 1908. The Electric Van Wagon and Omnibus Co is listed in the London telephone directory at 1 Earl Street, Westminster, SW.

12 February 1908. The Electric Van Wagon and Omnibuses Co is renamed the Electric Vehicle Co.

March 1908 The Electric Vehicle Co, of Whitehall House, Charing Cross, announces that it has sold 14 electrobuses to Brighton[9] and a further 50 electrobus chassis to the London Electrobus Co.[10]

14 April 1908. The Electric Vehicle Co signs a contract to supply 125 electrobuses to the London Electrobus Co.

19 April 1908. Brighton’s first electrobus is delivered on Easter Sunday. The Electric Vehicle Co hosts a lavish reception for the press at Brighton’s Hotel Metropole to celebrate the event.[11]

Under pressure from the local councils to cut motor bus noise the Brighton, Hove and Preston United Omnibus Co bought four electrobuses from the Electric Vehicle Co in 1908 and 1909 and built a new garage and charging station to maintain its growing fleet.[12]

19 June 1908. The Electric Vehicle Co applies for a licence to run electrobuses in Eastbourne. The application is turned down.[13]

July 1908. The London telephone directory lists two addresses for the Electric Vehicle Co: 1 Earl Street, and 158a Norwood Road, West Norwood.

July 1908. Two directors of the Electric Vehicle Co, Jack Darwen and Edward Lehwess tour England in an electrobus trying to drum up business. The tour takes in Cheltenham, Loughborough, Oxford and York.

November 1908. The trade press reports that the Electric Vehicle Co is to supply Railless Electric Traction, a pioneering trolleybus company, with battery-powered buses.[14]

1908 The Electric Vehicle Co exhibited at the 1908 Motor Show an electrically-propelled touring car. The Tudor Accumulator Co manufactured special traction cells for this purpose.

November 1909. The Electric Vehicle Co has a display of electric vehicles at the motor show.[15]

1910. The Electric Vehicle Co’s registered address is now 14-16 Cockspur Street, London SW. There are two directors: Edward Lehwess and Horace Thornton. Its paid-up capital is £22,855. [16]

April 1910. The Electric Vehicle Co handles eight second-hand London electrobuses. The International Motor Traffic Syndicate, a company that Lehwess admitted was his trading name, buys eight electrobuses from London for £800. It sells them to the Electric Vehicle Co for an undisclosed sum, which sells them on to the Brighton, Hove and Preston United bus company for £3,411.

1912. The Electric Vehicle Co is no longer listed in the London telephone directory

17 April 1913. The Electric Vehicles Co is renamed the Mechanical and General Inventions Co.[17]

Addresses: 79 Salisbury House 14-15 Bedford Chambers, Covent Garden, WC Trafalgar Buildings, Northumberland Avenue 1 Earl Street, Westminster, SW 158a Norwood Road, West Norwood Whitehall House, Charing Cross 11 Long Acre 10 Charles Street 39 Duke Street, EC 3

See Also


Sources of Information

  • A Most Deliberate Swindle by Mick Hamer. 2017. ISBN: 978-1910453-42-1
  1. Mick Hamer - December 2017
  2. Investors’ Guardian, 18 March 1905, p. 273. Companies House still has a file for the company in its archives, but it has been weeded to the point of irrelevance
  3. Automotor Journal, 7 December 1907, p. 1781
  4. Automotor Journal, 7 December 1907, p. 1781
  5. Commercial Motor, 28 February 1907, p. 579
  6. Motor Traction, 16 March 1907, p. 303
  7. London Electrobus Company, annual report, dated 27 November 1907.
  8. Minutes of Motor Omnibus Committee, 11 November 1907, East Sussex Record Office
  9. Commercial Motor, 19 March 1908, p. 39
  10. Automotor Journal, 21 March 1908, p. 387
  11. Mick Hamer, A Most Deliberate Swindle, RedDoor, 2017, p. 116
  12. The Electrician, 25 June 1909, p. 421.
  13. Minutes of Motor Omnibus Committee, 19 June 1908, East Sussex Record Office
  14. Commercial Motor, 5 November 1908, p. 168
  15. The Times, 17 November 1909, p. 17
  16. Garke’s Manual of Electrical Undertakings, 1911, p. 1185
  17. The National Archives, J 13/8025, affidavit of Official Receiver, 6 July 1921