Fragments on Forgotten Makes No. 66: The Jackson

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The other day I drove in the Sierra XR4i to haunts I knew so well years ago when schoolboy visits were paid to the aerodromes at Waddon and Kenley, getting lost because of post-war road changes. I was on my way to Purley, to talk with Mrs Lynch, whose father, Edwin Jackson, had built the Jackson cars. Cuttings, books and photographs relating to the Company have fortunately. been preserved, right back almost to the beginnings of this venture, which started in 1899.

Edwin Jackson was the engineer who had the idea of importing a de Dion-engined car to Bradford in Yorkshire, and later of making a few cars with 4 hp flat-twin Mytholm engines. In 1900 a move was made to London, where the first true Jacksons were later made, in Holland Park, with Jackson’s brother, before that, looking after sales of imported cars such as the Century, Buckmobile and Covert, from America. The Jackson cars appeared around 1903, based on Lacoste & Battmann chassis fitted with single-cylinder de Dion engines. You could have bought a 6 hp Jackson “Popular” for £175 or an 8 hp Jackson “Tourist” for £180. A Jackson Dogcart cost £195 but the Jackson-Covert was still listed in 1903 at £120. The appeal was clearly to the lower end of the market but Mobiloil used a small Jackson lorry around this time, and as early as January 1900 there was a Jackson doctor’s coupe.

Another venture was the Jackson three-wheeler, with channel-section frame having a tubular erection over its single back wheel, and powered by an 8 hp JAP engine. It ran on 750 x 85 wooden wheels and carried a three-seater “torpedo” body, the price being £120. The Jackson repertoire ran from brake-bodied cars to normally-seated cars, and included some exciting looking sports models, even when the long, high strapped-down bonnets covered only very small single-cylinder engines. However, variety seems to have paid off, if the claim to have received over 400 unsolicited testimonials rings true, and larger engines, like the 9/11 hp de Dion Bouton, were later used. Indeed, 30/40 hp lorries and a Liverpool ‘bus were other Jackson ventures, and by 1913 a 16 hp four-cylinder car was offered for £210, with tyres. The three-wheeler became the Jackson-Safety and just before the 1914-18 war Chapuis-Dornier power units were being installed in the light cars. An uncle, R Reynold-Jackson, was running this now prolific business, from premises in High Street, Notting Hill Gate.

By 1906, 296 Jacksons had been sold, cars were exported to Europe, India and Australia, and another line was the Jackson patent foot-starter. Good publicity had been obtained in various ways. A Jackson dogcart on de Nevers Octagon solid tyres was entered for the Hereford small-car trials at the turn of the century and the make was quite well represented at Brooklands, where in the opening season a 13.9 hp model won a “Junior Long” race. By 1908 Reynold-Jackson was racing a 6.2 hp model, clad in yellow coat and sleeves and brown cap. By 1909 there were enough cars of this kind about for a Jackson Cup race to be staged at the BARC Meeting of May 29th, confined to No. 8 Jacksons. Nine 6.2 hp cars entered, handicapped according to whether their de Dion engines had a stroke of 160 mm, 130 mm, or 120 mm, all having a bore of 100 mm. Reynold-Jackson had the biggest engine, so started from scratch, and this car could do the fs 1/2-mile at over 52 mph. The winner was C Macrae, at 381/4 mph, from S Hunt and R R Jackson. Lap speeds were under 50 mph but in 1910 this did not prevent BB Mash from taking second place in the second 50 mph Handicap at the October races, from Cummings’s 9.5 Martini, and in 1911 Jackson cars won two races at two different race meetings. S Hunt’s 13.9 hp Jackson winning the fastest, at 55 mph. (It is nice to know that one of the splendid silver cups awarded to the Company for its Brooklands victories is still in existence. . ) In fact, the Jackson Company would build racing cars to special order.

Nearer home, a small Jackson towed three horse-type carts up Ladbroke Grove. Besides de Dion engines, those by Aster and Peugeot were used, and Renault patents were adopted for the transmission, with direct top-gear and shaft final-drive. The “Black Demon” racing model had a sharply-pointed bonnet and a long-stroke 104 x 213 mm single-cylinder de Dion engine, and was listed at £265. The make took part in many speed events, a 100 x 150 mm Jackson running in the Beaulieu Hill Top event of 1908 for instance, and a 100 guineas model was ready by 1909. In 1913 Edwin Jackson opened a garage at Pangbourne and by 1915 the make that had been so successful was defunct, a war casualty. Reynold-Jackson turned to making motor scooters after the war, but they were not popular. He died in Bournemouth, at the age of 70.

In the 1930s Mr Jackson could have purchased a pre-war car of his manufacture but declined. However, at least two have survived, a circa 1904 9 hp four-seater owned by AJ Milbank of Forge Garage, Worcester Park, and a 1905 model at Thornton Heath. — William Boddy