Fragments of Forgotten Makes

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No. 16: Angus-Sanderson

On the way to Scotland last year for the R.A.C. Rally, I took the opportunity of stopping in Newcastle to call on Mr. T. C. H. Sanderson, a wine importer, whose late father was responsible for building the Angus-Sanderson car in that city.

The idea of going into motor-car manufacture was conceived by the firm of Sir Wm. Angus, Sanderson and Co., to expand their coachbuilding business and find work for employees who would be returned from the front at the end of the First World War.

Mr. Sanderson had served his apprenticeship with Henry Angus in London and in France before the war, and in company with Sir William Angus had built up a considerable business, as agents for such makes as Rolls-Royce, Armstrong Whitworth, Dodge Bros., Swift, etc., apart from their coachbuilding activities. The first six or eight Angus-Sandersons were built in 1919 at the company’s factory in St. Thomas’ Street, Newcastle-uponTyne, in a building which Mr. Sanderson had erected in 1911, and which today houses Horace Adams, who are agents for Vauxhall cars, etc. It is, however, threatened with demolition to make way for expansion of the College. Afterwards production was transferred to a disused shell factory at Birtley. Incidentally, theN.U.T. motorcycles were also built at the St. Thomas’ Street works, under Hugh Mason, until they moved to Benwell.

The Angus-Sanderson was an assembled job, the four-cylinder side-valve engine being supplied by Tylers, the front axle by Mechin of Glasgow, the gearbox and back axle by Wrigley, the electrics by Lucas and the radiator by Serck. Naturally, Sir Wm. Angus, Sanderson and Co. made their own bodywork.

For a time an unusual front axle with the ball races and plain thrust bearings of the front wheel forming a sort of remote swivel was used but later a normal H-section axle was substituted. At first the Tyler engine didn’t mate up too well with the Wrigley gearbox and the carden shaft was apt to break, so a leather spider universal was hastily devised. A distinguishing feature of the Angus-Sanderson was its wavy disc wheels; these were supplied by Sankey but proved unduly frail and were soon abandoned.

The early cars had straight-tooth back axles but these were too noisy and were soon changed for a spiral-bevel axle.

Suspension was ½-elliptic in front, cantilever behind, and the clutch was a leather cone which was somewhat inaccessible; and consequently didn’t receive the attention it required, with the result that it became fierce and destroyed axle shafts at the rate of one every 2,500 miles or so.

The brakes were rod-operated and the back axle fully-floating, which at least made it easy to punch out a broken half-shaft.

An unusual feature was the manner in which two tall thin 6-volt batteries were accommodated inside a foot-ramp which was provided for the comfort of the back-seat passengers. The gravity petrol tank incorporated a reserve compartment which was the reason for the two filler orifices on the car’s scuttle. Ricardo sent some of his slipper pistons up for trial but they got wet, a white powder formed on them, and as this was virtually emery powder its removal did little to enhance the fit of this unusual piston in the bores! Thus the stolid, handsome Angus-Sanderson. It came on the market in 1919 and by 1921 the impact of the Morris at undercut prices killed it off, although not before cars had been supplied to the Princess Royal and to S. F. Edge. Mr. Sanderson refused to follow the general tendency of all save Morris to increase prices, pegging the cost of his car at £450 in spite of rising costs. For a few more years Tylers, who had supplied the engines, carried on assembling the cars at Hendon, as Angus-Sanderson (1921) Ltd. Doyle gives the year of demise as 1927.

In its day the Angus-Sanderson had been partly mass-produced and the Birtley factory was a sizeable one.

During the 1914/18 war„ before car production was visualised, Angus, Sanderson and Co. built aeroplanes on the ground now occupied by College buildings in Newcastle. These included Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 fighters (the ” Big Ack “), the remarkable A.W. F.K.10 quadruplanes, and, later, the extremely successful Bristol Fighters. Armstrong Whitworth themselves built their aeroplanes in the old skating rink, as Hawkers did in a disused rink at Kingston-upon-Thames. The R.A.F. used to test fly these aeroplanes on Town Moor and Duke’s Moor, and you can still see, if you care to look, the big swing gates which were erected so that the aeroplanes could be taxied across the road from one flying ground to the other. Mr. Sanderson, senior, died only three years ago. His son recalls the old days of the Angus-Sanderson very clearly and also speaks with affection of contemporary small cars such as the G.N. He tells a splendid story of how they once took an N.U.T. motorcycle to the sand races at St. Andrews and on the way Freddie Dixon’s Harley Davidson combination simply shot past them. However, Dixon didn’t know the more direct route used by the N.U.T. rider and consequently was astonished to find that the N.U.T. had arrived before his Harley—Freddie thereupon decided he must find more speed and spent the night before the races pulling down his engine while the N.U.T. chaps slept with a clear conscience. But that is really more of a story for the V.M.C.C. Bulletin than for MOTOR SPORT.—W. B.