Pelham Street Works


The company moved here in February 1904 from Tempest Street when it became the Stevens Motor Manufacturing Company Limited. They purchased the old cycle works, on the southern corner of Pelham Street, and alongside Kimberley Street.

The location of the Stevens Motor Manufacturing Company Limited on the corner  of Pelham Street and Kimberley Street.

The front of the works in Pelham Street.

The factory  is not marked on the 1889 Ordnance Survey map and so must have been built a little later. On the south side of Pelham Street there were open fields until the area was redeveloped around 1890-91. The factory must have been built around this time.

Large numbers of petrol engines were made, including bicycle engines for Wearwell. Sales were initially high, and the company produced all kinds of engines, carburettors and gearboxes for a wide range of applications. Sadly sales fell, and on 17th March, 1907 a receiver was appointed to look after the the company's affairs.

It struggled on, and in 1908 began to produce frames and engines for its old customer Wearwell. Orders also came for motorcycle engines from Clyno of Thrapston. Stevens stayed there until 1909 when A. J. Stevens & Company Limited was formed, and the business moved to Retreat Street.

The factory was purchased by the Clyno Engineering Company, based at Thrapston, Northants. On 15th October, 1910 the business was transferred to Wolverhampton. Clyno extended the buildings, which today are known as Fort Works, and acquired the factory across the road.

After 20 successful years, Clyno went into liquidation, on 11th February 1929. Today Fort Works are occupied by the Turner Gear & Engineering Company.

A modern view of the works. The original frontage has been incorporated into the extended building.

Another modern view of the works. This time looking southwards along Kimberley Street.
Around 1907 'The London and Provincial Magazine' published an article describing the works, and the company's products. What follows is a transcript of the article:

One of the pioneers of the motor industry

It was the invention of the petrol motor that made possible the running, on all the roads of the world, of the self-propelled vehicle or automobile; and it is, possibly, with the help of the petrol motor that the conquest of the air will be achieved. The making of these motors was in England a few years ago an unknown industry. When the automobile was first taken up in this country; in other words, when a perverse government at length allowed it to be taken up; foreigners had gained an immense start in the perfecting of this engine, and we were dependent upon them for those we required. Yet the development of the industry in England has made such immense strides that it has caught up with and even, possibly, temporarily over-run the phenomenally increased demand for the article.

The main shop.

Wolverhampton was not behind in this new field of industry, and the first among the firms devoting their energies to this new branch of manufacture was that now known as the Stevens Motor Manufacturing Company Limited, now occupying premises in the west end of the town at the corner of Pelham Street and Kimberley Street, and running through to Merridale Street. The front building contains upstairs the general and private offices, while below are extensive stores for finished parts and fittings, the parts being, where possible, standardised and interchangeable. Beyond is the extensive and convenient workshop, with overhead driving shafts operating the various and usual engineering tools and machines, among which is noticeable No. 16 turret lathe by Alfred Herbert Ltd., the revolving turret being fitted with all the tools used consecutively on a given complex piece of work; other lathes, milling, slotting, drilling and boring machines are there, in fact, all the necessary adjuncts to an up-to-date and fully-equipped engineering shop. The power is derived from a

National Gas Engine in an engine room beyond, while the oil stores, the stock-room for the rough castings of iron, aluminium and other metals, and the testing room where every engine is brake-tested before going out, form other departments conveniently opening out into the main workshop. From 50 to 80 men are employed, and there is room for more, while land on two sides will allow for extension when necessary. The buildings at present cover an area of 2260 yards and the land on which they stand is freehold.

A corner of the main shop.

The general run of motors made by the firm are from single cylinder bicycle motors to 2-cylinder engines for Cars, boats, trolleys, etc. A number of 8 to 10hp. 4-cylinder engines were under construction at the time of our visit. A large part of the firm's trade is with the colonies, their motors being recognised as durable and dependable.

One 4-cylinder 16 to 18hp. motor had just been shipped for use on a launch on the Nile, while many are fitted to the trolleys used by railway inspectors in India and South America.

The Stevens Motor Manufacturing Co. are now making a portable petrol engine of special design capable of being used for manifold purposes such as driving pumps, dynamos, or other machines, including all kinds of farmers’ machinery, where they would be invaluable for working all manner of cutting and grinding machines. In respect to the firm's work in adapting the petrol motor to various uses, it may be said that they have built special engines for aeroplanes and dirigible balloons, one, the largest petrol engine turned out in Wolverhampton, being an 8-cylinder V type motor for a dirigible balloon. This engine, fitted with a loose copper water jacket and overhead valves, though of 120hp., only weighed 500 lbs.

It may be said that now the general stagnation in the motor trade has passed away, this firm's prospects are exceedingly bright, not only for their standard motors for cycles and carrs, but in view of the development of the portable engine type and possibly also the light engine for air machines. The works offer every facility for the building of chassis, etc., and, as we have said, are capable of extension.

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