A Brief History of Mann's Patent Steam Cart & Wagon Company
The story starts in January 1894 with the formation of the company Mann and Charlesworth. James Mann and Sidney Charlesworth were both well trained, both having been employed at the nearby works of J & H McLaren. In addition, Mann had spent some time with Marshalls of Gainsborough, and Charlesworth with Garretts of Leiston. In the early years of the new company, a variety of traditional steam traction-engine related products emerged from the works. In addition, Mann and Charlesworth introduced their ingenious single-eccentric reversing gear in July 1894, which became one of their trademarks. In 1898, Mann and Charlesworth built their first steam cart.
The steam cart was a very important development, as it was Britain's first load-carrying overtype machine, a configuration later used by many others, for example, Foden. The Mann vehicle was the catalyst for a new range of road vehicles that would sustain the company for more than thirty years, and make them one of the leading suppliers of steam wagons in Britain. Charlesworth left the partnership in 1898 and by September 1899 the organisation called Mann's Patent Steam Cart and Wagon Company was registered. The success of the patent wagon was such that Mann decided to construct a new works on Pepper Road, Hunslet, Leeds and the move was complete by December 1901. The large, modern, well-equipped works was an ambitious move and was initially very successful. The period up to and including the First World War was the heyday of the company. The company's main products were their 3-ton and 5-ton wagon, however, these were produced in a whole range of variations, including; Articulated 6-wheeler, Gully cleaning wagon, Brewers wagon, Bus bodied wagon, Municipal dustcart, Street watering wagon, Tar spraying wagon, Tipping wagon, and many more.
Advert from 1920
Steam wagon with tipper, 1907 catalogue illustration, (images courtesy of Graces Guide)
In addition, the company produced a range of tractors for both road and agricultural use. Another popular product for municipal use was their lightweight patching roller, used for road repair. In 1924 the company introduced their superb Mann Express wagon, with shaft drive, high-speed engine and fully enclosed cab. Unfortunately, this wagon was not a commercial success and by 1926 Mann's Patent Steam Cart and Wagon Company was in trouble. Despite attempts to provide additional finance, it was not possible to save the company, and in 1929 the works closed completely.
The former works on Pepper Road, Hunslet survives to this day and is still in use as an engineering facility, the most complete remaining example of one of the former Leeds engine works. A blue plaque on the front of the building tells of the former role of the building
The former Mann works on Pepper Street seen in recent times. (Photos Kris Ward)
External Website Links
Graces Guide page about Mann
Hunslet Remembered's page about the Pepper Road area
Wikia page about Mann with history and list of preserved engines
Pease, J. (2005). The History of Mann's Patent Steam Cart and Wagon Company. Landmark Publishing, Ashbourne, UK. ISBN 1-84306-205-4.Look for this book on Amazon*
* These links are provided to help readers search for often rare books on the subject and to promote any books available, we are under no commercial incentives for this.
This article was written by John Pease, author of the above book.
Page last modified: 24 February 2021
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