Lanchester Engine Co
Of the Armourer Mills, Montgomery Street, Sparkbrook, Birmingham
1895 Frederick Lanchester was one of the first English engineers to recognize the possibilities of the petrol-engine for light transport; a syndicate was formed early in 1895 for the purpose of building cars to his designs.
1895 Late in this year the first trials were made of his automobile.
1896 The first Lanchester car took to the road. This was a five-seater, chain driven, tiller-steered phaeton, fitted with a single-cylinder 5 h.p. 1,689cc air-cooled engine; it had epicyclic change-speed gears, tangent-spoke wire wheels with pneumatic tyres, and a wick carburettor, and there are claims that it was the first four-wheel petrol-driven car built entirely in the British Isles. (See image)
1897 Following its success a two-seat phaeton was constructed, fitted with an 8 h.p. horizontally-opposed two-cylinder air-cooled engine, live axle, worm drive, wire wheels, tiller steering, wick carburettor, magneto ignition, and epicyclic gear. (See image)
1898 Built the Spirit Passenger Phaeton, officially designated Lanchester Car Number Two with two-cylinder 8 h.p. engine and exhibited at the Richmond Show
1899 November 30th. The Lanchester Engine Co was formed by Frederick Lanchester with his brothers Frank Lanchester and George Herbert Lanchester. Company backed by James Whitfield and Allan Whitfield and a small group from Rudge-Whitworth. Assets of the company were twenty British and ten foreign patents, the 1895/97 car, a second car, the 'Gold Medal' phaeton and another car partly built. Charles Vernon Pugh, Chairman, with other directors John Pugh, Joseph Taylor, Hamilton Barnsley and James Whitfield.
1900 Archie Millership joins the company as a tester and later a demonstrator
1901 August. The first 10/12 hp production model was on the road. This was a two-cylinder 4,029cc air-cooled designed to run at 850 rpm for 10 h.p. Six were completed in the summer. They took part unofficially in the Glasgow Trials.
1901 Max R. Lawrence joins as Works Manager
1902 May. Details of the promotional run of Lanchester 10-hp cars from Worthing.
1902 Delivered a 10 h.p. car (Chassis No. 16) to Runyard Kipling
1903 January. At the 1903 Stanley Automobile Show they exhibited twelve of the 10 h.p. model.
1903 The carriage building section moved to the Alpha Works, Liverpool Street, Deritend under Archie Millership.
1903 May. Took part in the 1903 Glasgow to London Non-Stop Trial and the 10 h.p. Lanchester No. 5 gained maximum marks while No. 4 withdrew with a broken reverse gear.
1903 Built a small car to compete with the Oldsmobile and Stanley but it was not put in to production.
1903 Took over the adjoining premises of the Radix Works.
1903 June. Introduced the air-cooled two-cylinder 16 h.p. 4,500cc. Similar to 10 h.p. but bore increased from 5.25ins to 5.5ins. First shown at the 1903 Phoenix Park Trials.
1903 August. Released the optional 12 h.p. water-cooled engine - the 10 h.p. without cooling fans.
1903 October. Took part in the 1903 Southport Speed Trials where a private entry driven by Williamson was first in his 16 h.p.
1904 March. The directors declined to provide sufficient capital to service the products and the level of sales that were being achieved and the company went into receivership. For a period the company was run by the receiver. The Lanchester Motor Co was registered on 21 November as a private company, in reconstruction of the Lanchester Engine Co .
Between 1900 and 1905 they produced the 10 hp and 12 hp cars and three to four hundred were made.
See Lanchester Motor Co.
Sources of Information
- Biography of Frederick Lanchester, ODNB 
- F. W. Lanchester. The Life of an Engineer by P. W. Kingsford. Published 1960.
- The Lanchester Legacy by C. S. Clark. Published 1895.