Typical of many Companies established at the turn of the century to supply the newly developing Motor Industry was the Ryknield Engine Co. Ltd., named after the Roman Road passing through Burton-on-Trent where the Company was based. The firm was opened in 1903 with £30,000 capital and was welcomed in Burton-on-Trent as an alternative industry in a town monopolised by brewing. There was a comprehensive description of the works, and the machinery installed, in the Burton, Ashby and Coalville Guardian of April 18th 1903, when it was stated that the aim was to produce a 12-h.p. petrol-driven car and a steam-powered light van.
It is difficult to trace any evidence of the steam vehicle but the petrol-driven car is well recorded. Specification included a vertical two-cylinder engine of 12-h.p., with mechanically-operated valves, in a pressed steel frame, driving through a patented clutch and three-speed gearbox to a bevel-geared live rear axle. Weight was 14 cwt. Several patents were taken out by the Ryknield Engine Co. Ltd., one being the “Ryknield Patent Steering”, described as consisting of two nuts fitting upon a triple start screw thread and adjustable for wear by screwing up a wedge bolt which altered the distance between the two nuts. Another patent was the “Duplex Clutch”, which consisted of two cone clutches, sandwiching the flywheel which on disengagement parted from each other thus, “eliminating end-thrust on the crankshaft”.
This car was entered for the Crystal Palace Reliability Trials of September 1903, but seems to have been a non-starter. A 16-h.p. fourcylinder car was planned in 1904 and in 1905 it is on record that Leeds Corporation took delivery of two Ryknield chassis and fitted them with double-decked ‘bus bodies. By 1911 350 cars are recorded as being completed but the Company then went into liquidation and was re-formed as Baguley Cars Ltd., Mr. Baguley being the Engineering Manager who had joined the Company from Bagnalls Locomotive Works, Stafford. This fact was significant, as in 1912 the Company started producing petrol-driven light railway engines, an introduction to the present Company’s activities of producing diesel locomotives. These petrol-driven locomotives appear in the Company’s order books as having been exported all over the world and this experience obviously influenced the car production and a tourer was produced for the Argentine market in 1913. A Baguley Car was also exhibited at the Olympia Show of 1913.
The outbreak of war found the firm producing Rail Cars for the fighting services and the French Government, but in 1915 cars were produced with a torpedo tourer body (Chassis 601-2-3), and exported to Canada and Australia. Chassis number 604 is recorded as having an ambulance body. The Company was involved in 1915 in experiments to produce a “Land Ship”, or a “Tank”. Trials of such a vehicle were carried out on hills near Burton and it was fitted with steel cutters to negotiate barbed wire entanglements. This prototype was eventually produced in quantity by Fosters of Lincoln and introduced on the Somme in 1916. There is no record of any car production after 1919, when a limousine was produced with wire wheels (Chassis 1133, 4, 5, 6), but the Company’s successors, Baguley Drewry Ltd., continue to produce diesel-engined locomotives for the world markets in addition to operating as general engineers.
I am indebted to Mr. W. Souster, present Manager of Baguley Drewry Limited, Burton-on-Trent for providing access to Company records in order that I may produce the above story of the Ryknield Car. The present company would be very pleased to hear of the existence of any of their cars anywhere in the world or of the survival of any components. – C. W. GASKIN