In 1905 the Star Cycle Company began to produce a low-cost range of cars, initially under the ‘Starling’ name, adding a ‘Stuart’ model a year later. Star already produced high quality, expensive cars that were manufactured by the Star Engineering Company. In 1909 this company took over its parent company (The Star Cycle Company) and the manufacture of ‘Starling’ and ‘Stuart’ cars ceased. They were replaced by Briton cars, manufactured by the Briton Car Company under the direction of Edward Lisle Junior, the son of Star's founder. The new company had a capital of £50,000.

Stewart Street Works.

Briton started life in the company’s Stewart Street Works where the ‘Starling’ and ‘Stuart’ cars had been built. The same workforce was employed, and the first model, the two cylinder, 7 hp. (later increased to 10 hp.) ‘Little Briton’ soon appeared. It sold for 175 guineas. Other models quickly followed. There were four cylinder 12hp., 14hp., and 16hp. cars, and in 1912 a 4 cylinder version of the10hp. car replaced the original model.
Russell Jackson’s 10hp. Little Briton from 1910.

As seen at the Festival of Black Country Vehicles at the Black Country Living Museum.

The engine in Russell Jackson's Little Briton.
Another view of the engine in Russell Jackson's Little Briton.
Tony Chesters' 12hp. Little Briton from 1910. 

It is very original, including the body.

In 1912 the Briton Motor Company (1912) limited was formed and six acres of land were purchased between Lower Walsall Street and Horseley Fields. The site had previously been occupied by the northern half of Shrubbery Iron Works. The company built a new factory on the site, and moved there in 1913. The same year saw the introduction of the 10/12hp. and the 14/16hp. cars, and light commercial vehicles.


Lower Walsall Street Works.

The location of the original factory, which expanded to cover much of the site.

A plan of the factory from 1922, which then covered over 70,000 square feet.

The Briton factory site covered an area over 3 acres. The factory itself was extended to cover over 70,000 square feet. The main entrance and general offices fronted onto Lower Walsall Street. The two storey office block consisted of the following:
Ground Floor:  entrance foyer, manager's office, repairs and sundries office, a telephone box, and toilets.
First Floor:  four partitioned offices with glazed partitions, a storeroom, a telephone room, and ladies toilets.

Behind the office building was a lean-to boiler house with a Quorn boiler, which fed hot water to the factory.

On the left-hand side of the entrance was a two-storey brick building. The ground floor consisted of the saw mill, the rough stores, and a kitchen. On the first floor was the pattern shop, and foreman's office. Adjoining the building on the western side, was the engine house. It contained a 40 hp. Crossley gas engine, a dynamo supplying 100 amps at 460 volts, and a large accumulator. There were also men's and girl's toilets in the factory yard.

Next to the office building was the smaller of two factory buildings. It consisted of six bays, brick-built, with a north-light roof, measuring 135 feet by 133 feet. It had a floor area of 17,860 square feet. It housed the body shop, the paint shop, the varnish shop, and a stores. At the back was a petrol and oil store.

Behind was a larger brick-built factory building with six bays. It measured 252 feet by 180 feet and had a floor area of 44,500 square feet. It housed the testing house, the blacksmith's shop, the erecting shop, the engine and axle shop, the machine shop, the tool room, a stores, the clerks' offices, and a foreman's office.

At the back of the site along Lower Horseley Fields was the canteen and kitchen, and the drawing office. Nearby was the brick-built electric power house.

The London & North Western Railway ran alongside the eastern side of the site on a viaduct with nine arches. The arches were used as general stores and timber stores.

The machine shop.

Lower Walsall Street Works. Possibly in the late 1930s.

10/12hp., 4 cylinder, 68mm bore x 120mm stroke, 1,743c.c. at 1,000 rpm: Price in 1913
Standard chassis, pointed radiator 190 guineas
2 seater 235 guineas
4 seater 255 guineas
Special chassis, flat radiator 160 guineas
2 seater 175 guineas
4 seater 200 guineas
14/16hp., 4 cylinder, 80mm bore x 120mm stroke, 2,412c.c. at 1,000 rpm:  
Standard chassis, flat radiator 225 guineas
2 seater 310 guineas
4 seater 350 guineas
Special chassis, pointed radiator 180 guineas
2 seater 200 guineas
4 seater 220 guineas


A Little Briton outside the Whittington Inn. Courtesy of the late Charles Weight.
A Briton car seen in the Queenstown Motor Museum, Otago, South Island, New Zealand in 1978. Many Britons were exported to Australia and New Zealand, and many of them still survive.

Courtesy of the late Charles Weight.

Lord Montague of Beaulieu sold this Little Briton for £250 in 1962 to the Measham Motor Museum, near Tamworth. The last known owner is Mr. R. H. S. Long of Crowle.

This car would have been produced in Walsall Street Works.

Courtesy of the late Charles Weight.

Some interior views of
the Briton factories
The Doctor's Victoria 10hp. 2 cylinder car. It sold for £215 in 1911 complete with hood and screen.

An advert from 1913.

An advert showing some of the trophies won by Briton cars, including the following:

Saltburn, 1912, Silver Cup and 2 gold medals.

Saltburn Speed Trials, Gold Medal.

Brooklands - M.C. Handicap, Silver Cup.

Brooklands - Second Raglan Cup.

Manchester Reliability Trials, Gold Medal.

Coalport Hill, Gold Medal.

Irish Reliability Trials, Gold Medal.

Rosslare Speed Trials, 1913, Second.

Courtesy of Charles Weight.

An advert from 1913.

A 1911 four cylinder with dickey seat and folding hood.

Note the wide body, allowing three people to sit in what would otherwise be a two-seater; the dickey seat in use; and the paraffin head and sidelights.

Courtesy of the late Charles Weight.

The 1912 Briton models
This 1912 Briton is seen in Australia. Note the acetylene lamps and carbide water generator on the near side running board. This car was last heard of in 1967, owned by Philip Ironside of Toorak, Victoria.

Courtesy of the late Charles Weight.

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