Scootacar made by Hunslet Engine Co (Photo - Andrew Johnson)
A Brief History of Car Manufacturing in LeedsAll | Appleyard of Leeds | Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co | Day - Leeds | Dougill's Engineering | Electromobile (Leeds) | Ginetta | Glover's Motors | Greenwood & Batley | Hunslet Engine Co | Rice & Co | Rodley | Sterling Engineering | West Leeds Motor Co
Were there any cars made in Leeds? The simple answer to this is YES. It gets rather more complex as the majority of the vehicle makers in Leeds were involved with commercial and military vehicles. In the early days of motoring we also find several small firms in little back street garages that might once have been the local smithy turning their hands to vehicle production. In some cases there is little more than a reference in an old trade directory to tell of these firms and below we list some of the firms found in the directories available online through the Graces Guide website.
Appleyard of Leeds
At one point Appleyard of Leeds' North Street garage was Europe's largest single floor garage and employed over 1000 people. The company sold and serviced several car brands. It is also worth mentioning on our pages as for a time the garage undertook coachbuilding work. They advertised van, ambulance and mobile shop bodies.
Below - 1954 advert for Appleyard's Coachwork (Photo - Graces Guide).
At least one Appleyard bodied ambulance survived and can occasionally be seen at vintage vehicle and traction engine rallys. This vehicle was built for Bristol's Ambulance Service on a Morris LD1 chassis in 1954. It was used as an ambulance until 1972 and was sold to a firm that leased vehicles to the film industry. Now privately owned it was extensively restored to its original condition in the 1990s.
Above - Preserved Appleyard bodied ambulance THU 639 (Photo from its owner Patrick Honey)
During World War 2 Appleyards also constructed aircraft parts for Blackburn alongside neighbouring engineering firm Thomas Green whose works were also situated on North Street.
Amonst the car marques sold by Appleyard's, which also included the various Leyland brands, were Rolls Royce and Bentley. At one time it was commonplace for Rolls Royce and Bentley vehicles to receive bodies handbuilt by small coachbuilding firms and many of the vehicles sold by Appleyards would have received bodies from Rippon Brothers of Huddersfield, a company that Appleyard went on to purchase in the 1970s.
Internal Website Links
If road vehicles is your thing, the next size up on our site is our page on bus making in Leeds
As well as the Hunslet vehicle used in the Alien film we have a list of Leeds built items in films
External Website Links
Much of the information on this site was found in Graces Guide online material on Britain's industial heritage.
The Leodis website has several images relating to Appleyard of Leeds
This article was produced by Kris Ward and Andrew Johnson, any feedback or contributions about the Leeds engine making industry would be greatly appreciated.
Page last modified: 19 June 2021
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