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 Limited.

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.

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