SHEW Vehicles

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SHEW Vehicles

Apropos Michael Worthington-Williams’ letter on page 338 of the March issue, the photograph taken on February 3rd 1910 is reproduced from a newspaper cutting, from which the following fresh facts emerge about the petrol-driven vehicles made at Scaham Harbour Engine Works. Mr. E. Saunders was employed as a draughtsman at Lord Londonderry’s engine works in Foundry Road, Scaham, before the first world war. He remembers that E.G. Allison of Sunderland was appointed works manager about 1905-1906, and started to build petrol-driven vehicles. Known locally as Scaham “Sedan” Cars, the vehicles were of a freak design and never a practical success. The photograph shows an 18-20 h.p. wagon with unique articulated chassis, which gave a turning circle of 23 feet. It weighed two tons, had a speed of 15 m.p.h. and a petrol consumption of 8 m.p.g.

The surviving SHEW is fitted with a’ two-cylinder Forman engine of 15 h.p. 110 nun. bore x 130 mm. stroke, engine number 87, has three forward and reverse gears, and final drive by side chains. The existing car was discovered in the grounds of Lord Londonderry’s estate at Wynyard Park, County Durham, by Mr. George F. Kendrew in 1956. To prolong its useful life on the estate, the car had been equipped with solid rubber tyres, and a light “flat u-uck” body fitted in. place of the rear seats, before it teas finally pensioned off in 1914. Mr. Kendrew surmised that the initial letters SHEW on the radiator probably stood for Seaham Harbour Engine Works, and thought it feasible that this car was built as an experiment before 1905. He rebuilt the four-seater touring body as a double phaeton, to be consistent with a claimed 1904 date. The dating was provisionally accepted by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, which enabled Mr. Kendrew to participate in the 1957 Veteran Car Run to Brighton.

The Veteran Car Club was never able to find a single contemporary piece of evidence to show that Seaham Harbour Engine Works produced a petrol-driven vehicle. However, they found good reason to believe that it could not have been made as early as 1904. On the chassis frame was bond the trade mark of Rubcry, Owen and Co., and it teas established that this firm was simply RuberY and Co., until about October 1905. The 1906 tYlv Forman engine, and the fact that the Registration Number BR 211 is an issue of about May 1906, eventually led Research Historian Dennis Field to date the car as 1906.

‘The strong resemblence between the vehicle photographed in 1910 and the 1906 car, proves beyond reasonable doubt that both originated from the Seaham works. I lost track of the car’ owned by the late Mr. Kendrew, when it was sold out of the area, and would be pleased to receive news of its present whereabouts. Hartlepool RORY G. SINCLAIR