In 1946 tractors were still not fitted with cabs or any form of
protection against the elements. On October 28th, 1946 we incorporated a new company, Tractor Supplies
Limited at 35 New Road, Peterborough to promote agricultural spare parts
sales for Tractor Spares Limited’s products on the east coast.
||This new company was managed by Mr. Frank Wootton. The company just
about paid its way. Frank Wootton had an idea: he found a local
blacksmith to weld together sheet metal to form a crude type of cab for
the local farmers. In March 1947 Tractor Supplies Limited registered a
trade mark "SUN-TRAC" for tractor cabs.
|In 1950 Mr. Wootton left the Company to become a preacher, so the
building was leased to Trackparts of Hatfield. Mr. Jack Gordon, their
managing director, was still accepting orders from farmers for cabs but
passed them on to Wolverhampton.
On 3rd December, 1953 we made an agreement with a small
company, A.Ward and Company (Wolverhampton) Limited, to design and
produce a good cab for Tractor Spares Limited.
In 1955 Trackparts decided the Peterborough Depot was not a viable
proposition and removed all their stocks. I sold the premises in 1956.
By 1956 Tractor Supplies Limited, operating from Chillington Fields, had
established themselves in the tractor cab market in a substantial way.
But our producers, A. Ward and Company(Wolverhampton) Limited, fell out with our
Mr. Sydney Dando and on September 1st, 1956 terminated the supply
contract and refused to supply any further cabs, going into
the business on their own account.
|Suddenly we had no products to sell, and, to embarrass
us further, had to pass all our repeat orders and accounts
over to Wards to handle direct.
I felt personally let down and extremely annoyed. I decided to take a
more active part in the survival of Tractor Supplies Limited. So, with a
few men, I started our own production at Strawberry Lane, in
9 new bays which Tractor Spares Limited still had under construction. With Mr. Walter Draht in the drawing office, I had to start designing and drawing all
new cabs. Expansion was rapid. I made a personal visit to see all the
Managing Directors of our lost customers with great success. Within
three to four years we became a threat to A. Ward and Company (Wolverhampton)
||In the early stages A. Ward and Company (Wolverhampton)
Limited had no
competition and expanded rapidly. It changed its name to Tractorvision
Limited, and moved its operation to Sidney Street off Penn Road (A. Ward
and Company (Fabrications) Limited, remained in Walsall Street).
their range, making cabs for Caterpillar and International Harvester,
John Deere, Fordson, Track Marshall, Euclid, Massey Ferguson, Blaw Knox,
Ransome, Boss, Hymac etc..
In 1962 Bowmaker Plant, Cannock bought Tractorvision Ltd., and
production was moved to the old Marston factory on Penn Road, the
building now occupied by the main Mercedes dealer.
1965 Tractorvision's Works Manager, Mr. David Thomas, together with a
financial backer, set up Cabcraft Limited, at Penkridge near Stafford. (Cabcraft's
story can be found on this website in the museum engineering hall).
|This meant that in or near Wolverhampton there were three manufacturers
of tractor cabs - which created competition!
|By 1968 Tractorvision had again outgrown its capacity in Wolverhampton
and moved to larger premises at Four Ashes on the Stafford Road. They
were instrumental in introducing combine harvester cabs complete with an
air filtration system. To meet new safety legislation, rigorous safety
precautions were built into the cabs. Drivers’ cabs had moved from being
a basic metal shell to a safe, comfortable, protective home for the
operator. But with the continuing need not only to widen the range but
also to introduce new features, design and development costs soared. The
company began losing money, the larger premises adding to Bowmaker’s
increasing losses. They decided to look for a buyer.
Tractor Supplies cab design had also become more sophisticated. We had
also become more efficient in production, each year making an improved
profit. We made cabs to fit almost very tractor available in this
A SUN-TRAC cab for the Caterpillar DW21.
A SUN-TRAC cab fitted to Tarmac's International
|So in 1969 I made Bowmakers an offer for Tractorvision, which they
accepted. Bowmakers insisted on the sale including "Clearview" who
produced shop windows using German aluminium rolled sections.
The premises at Four Ashes were far too large for Tractorvision and
Clearview, so I moved Clearview to Strawberry Lane and Tractor Supplies
Limited’s cab production to Four Ashes.
I also persuaded Mr. David Thomas
of Cabcraft to manage the cab production at Four Ashes. We changed the
name from Tractor Supplies Limited to Operator Control Cabs Limited.
|Operator Control Cabs had inherited the increased overheads and it was
a struggle to keep the creditors happy. Nevertheless I am sure, given
time, this would be achieved. But we did not get time because, in 1970,
through an oversight by our staff, a creditor’s postal petition to wind
up was overlooked.
On the subsequent publication of the notice, other
creditors and the tax authorities joined-in and the bank froze the
account on July 22nd.
A creditors meeting followed, which received a glowing
report on SUN-TRAC cabs over the last 24 years, each year
showing a £15,000 to £20,000 profit.
A SUN-TRAC cab fitted to an Aveling Barford GF Roller.
A SUN-TRAC cab fitted to a Ferguson tractor.
|A Birmingham firm of building contractors Messrs. David
Charles Limited, had just finished building Tractor Spares Limited’s new office block by Neachells Lane bridge. They
heard of the O.C.C. disaster and offered the liquidators £30,805 for the
I felt obliged to personally pay out all wages due, and all National
Insurance stamps due. I also had to meet a personal guarantee to Bowmakers, and to meet that had to sell the Watery Lane site to David
David Charles continued production of cabs until 1972.
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1940s and 1950s