Presto Gear Cases

The Presto Gear Case & Components Company had been formed by 1896 as can be seen from the following advert from the Star catalogue of that year.

Courtesy of David Evans.

The gear cases were reasonably easy to fit as can be seen from the 1896 instructions:

Courtesy of David Evans.

The gear cases could be ordered for almost any machine as can be seen from the 1896 order form:

Courtesy of David Evans.

The following description is from the 1897 edition of the "Illustrated Towns of England Business Review of Wolverhampton".

Presto Gear Case and Components Company Limited, Frederick Street.

The Presto Gear Case and Components Company, Limited, recently known as The Presto Gear Case Company, is in the enjoyment of such favour from the cycling public, as to have necessitated the formation of a limited company to enable them to satisfactorily cope with the increasing demand for their gear cases and component parts, which are well-known and eagerly sought after throughout the whole extent of cycledom. Contemporary with the formation of the new Company, large works have been erected and equipped on a scale and in a manner calculated to in every way fulfil the requirements which may be brought to hear upon this highly-popular firm. Perhaps the best-known production of this firm is the "Presto" gear case (Bate's patent, 1381), a gear case combines all the advantages of others, whilst it is free from any one of their various defects. The most, notable advantages of this gear case are perfect fit (they are easily fitted by two screws only, are detachable at will, the chain and chain wheels are accessible at any moment, secures freedom from vibration, does not reverberate the sound of the running chain, is dust-proof, and does not look unsightly. Surely these are commendations which must force themselves upon all lovers of the "wheel" and it these numerous advantages which have secured for the "Presto" gear case manufacturers such world-wide popularity. In addition to this the Presto Gear Case and Components Company, Limited, manufacture, cycle accessories of every description, the quality and make of which secure for them a rapidly increasing demand. They are agents for Dunlop, Warwick, Beeston and Clincher tyres, and keep large stocks of steel balls, tube nipples, etc.. To attain such pre-eminence necessitates judicious and skilful management, considerable experience and tact, coupled with a practical knowledge of the requirements of the trade and their patrons, and it is to their thorough conception of the foregoing that the Presto Gear Case and Components Company, Limited, owe their great popularity. At their works in Frederick Street, a large number of hands are busily engaged in the manufacture of these cases and accessories, and this firm is an important factor among the industrial community of the township. A firm which has such a hold upon public favour as is enjoyed by the one under present review, is bound not only to sustain its present position, but to make a great headway

A Presto Gear Case shown in its closed and open position. It was easily fitted by just two screws, and quickly and easily removed for oiling or repairs.

The location of the Presto factory.

An advert from 1898. Courtesy of David Evans.

By 1911 the company had premises in Owen Road as can be seen from the advert below:

An advert from 1911.
During the First World War, Presto began to concentrate on the production of parts for vehicle manufacturers, as can be seen in the advert below, from 1917.

An advert from 1920.

The company ceased trading in the late 1920s. It still existed in 1927, but was possibly closed after the take-over by Guy Motors in 1928. At that time the Stewart Street factory was rented to C. & B. Smith, Ironfounders. It was put-up for sale at auction in July 1929 along with the Star factories in Frederick Street and Pountney Street. No bids for the Presto factory were made at the auction, which was held in the Victoria Hotel, Wolverhampton. After the auction, C. & B. Smith made an offer of £450  for the factory, which was accepted.

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