The Cowey car

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Sir,

I was interested to see Jeffrey Lee’s letter regarding the Cowey car that belonged to his father. Not living far from Kew, I did take the trouble once to find can where the vehicles were made. Near the railway station is a little cobbled street off Station Avenue running almost parallel with the railway line. Along it are a number of workshops, including one fairly substantial brick building split up into bays, with enamelled numbers above each bay. This was the home of the Cowey car, and at the time of my visit, there were still one or two people working for another maany, who had once worked at Cowey’s, or whose relations had done so. One elderly lady had had an old Cowey at the bottom of her garden for many years, and eventually decided to ask one or two people formerly employed at the factory if they would like it for rebuilding, but at tho time (about 1964) nobody was interested, so what was perhaps the last surviving car was broken.

I am fairly certain that this site was previously occupied by F. C. Blake, who had formerly been in Hammersmith, and who made the Blake car, and Blake electrical equipment for motors, but when this company vacated the premises I have no idea. Experiments with the Cowey pneumatic suspension commenced about 1909 when both a Daimler 28/32 h.p. and a Crossley 40 h.p. were fitted with such suspension units and taken for a spin around the Kew area by The Autocar reps. These units took the place of the conventional leaf springs, and at the time were being developed as bolt-on goodies to any make of vehicle. Ideas of a similar nature, hut probably intended for the Cowes light car, were patented in 1912 and by 1913 the system had been modified to use a car’s existing mad springs in addition to the pneumatic units. However, whether road springs were incorporated in the layout or not, the complete conversion of individual cars was not a success due to the cost involved, and it was not until 1914 that the design of a complete car incorporating the Cowey suspension was put on sale to the public, which of course was then curtailed by the interruption of the War.

The Cowey car was not continued after the War, but the well-known speedometer was amongst a number of other motoring accessories manufactured for a few more years.

Esher DAVID HALES