Stewart Street Works
The works has an interesting past as it was previously
occupied by the Star Motor Company and Briton Cars.
By 1889 The Star Cycle Company purchased the factory in Stewart Street,
which previously could well have belonged to Hinde, Harrington &
Company, who produced 'Desideratum' bicycles.
In 1912 Briton
purchased six acres of land alongside the London & North Western
railway line between Lower Horseley Fields and Lower Walsall Street. The
company built new works on the site and moved there in 1913.
Charles Hayward had a sidecar manufacturing business in
Church Street and traded under the name of C. W. Hayward. He had an
arrangement with A.J.S. to produce their sidecars. Business was
extremely good and larger premises were sought for expansion. When
Briton moved to Lower Walsall Street he leased the Stewart Street works
from Star. The business thrived, producing sidecars for most of the
major manufacturers including Sunbeam. It became the largest sidecar
manufacturing plant in the world.
|A map of the works
from 1920. Courtesy of Trevor Davies.
In 1920 C. W. Hayward was taken over by A.J.S. as part
of its expansion programme. A.J.S. purchased the Stewart Street works
for £6,750 from the Star Engineering Company and allowed Hayward's to
continue trading under the company's original name. There was a sawmill and
joinery section, an enamelling section, a body building section and a
chassis department. The site occupied over 36,000 square feet.
The sidecars continued to sell extremely well and
Stewart Street works couldn't keep up with the demand. The company
decided that it had to increase production, and as there was no more
space available at Stewart Street for expansion, a new premises was
essential. In 1922 the Briton Car Company went into voluntary
liquidation. Their Lower Walsall Street works was put up for sale, and
Page & Sons, Estate Agents, sold the Walsall Street factory on October
3rd 1922 for £7,000 to A.J.S.
Sidecar production soon moved to Lower
Walsall Street and in 1923 A.J.S. began to produce wireless
receivers to cater for the new market which was made
possible by the formation of the BBC. The BBC was formed in
1922 and started regular broadcasts before the end of the
year. In 1925 part of the wireless department moved to
Stewart Street as sales were very high and extra space was
required to increase production. Initially only the wireless
cabinets and loudspeakers were produced here, but by
1927 sales had started to fall and the remaining parts of
the Wireless Department also moved here. Sales continued to
fall and in the middle of 1928 production ceased. On 30th
October, 1928 the factory was sold to the Symphony Gramophone
Company Limited for £15,375. Symphony purchased the the
whole of the works, the machinery, and all of the
remaining A.J.S. wireless spares, using them in its range of
radiograms and portable receivers.
Sadly the company only had a short life. The
Symphony Gramophone and Radio Company Limited went into
liquidation on 17th March, 1930. Henry Morgan of 54 New
Broad Street, London was appointed as liquidator. The
company's assets were duly sold including the factory, which
was purchased by Birmingham estate agents Thomas Foden Flint
and Alfred Edward Jones. It sold for £1,175. Since that time
the buildings have been occupied by many companies including
C. and B. Smith Limited, ironfounders; and Wright & Pedley
Although the back part of the works is still
in use today, the front building now appears to be empty.
The following section is a pictorial
tour of the works in three parts. It contains a large number of
photographs and so may be slow to download.
|Some of the works photos are from the collection of the
late Geoff Stevens, who kindly allowed us to use them, the
others are courtesy of Ray Jones.
|Return to the
list of factories