A Brief History of the Argyll Motor Car

By John Campbell Watson
With additional material by the Motoring Heritage Centre in Alexandria

The Age Before Cars

Many years ago, in a world without motor cars, people rarely travelled, Britain was a different place. However, changes were on the way.

Scotland had a long tradition in being in the forefront of road transport development In 1784 (60 years before the first trains were in use) William Murdock built a self propelled steam carriage. 50 years later The Steam Carriage Company of Scotland started a regular road service between Glasgow and Paisley.

By the 1820's road building techniques had been advanced by John Louden Macadam, John Thompson invented the pneumatic tyre, but John Boyd Dunlop improved on the design, giving more comfort to the cyclist

This laid the foundation of the Automobile which in its original form was little more than two bicycles bolted together, a 'Quadricycle" a design which the Argyll Car Factory developed upon. This was the dawn of Scottish motoring.

In the Beginning

Three companies dominated the early years of motor car development, These were known as the 3 A's namely Arrol-Johnston, Albion and Argyll. Arrol-Johnston's factory in Paisley was backed by Sir William Arrol whose company had constructed the Forth Railway Bridge. George Johnston, the head of his company, had produced some eccentric designs and after a disastrous fire in 1901 the company struggled to survive. It later reformed and became Scotland's major producer. Albion was formed in 1899 by two engineers from the Arrol-Johnston company i.e.. Blackwood Murray & Norman Fulton.

They produced both commercial vehicles and motor cars until 1914. Then the unprofitable manufacture of cars ceased and they concentrated on making trucks and lorries.

The Argyll Car

It all started with a man named Alexander Govan. He was a self made man, his father was a "Tenter" a cloth stretcher at a Blantyre Mill near Glasgow. He was born in 1869 in very humble circumstances and when the family moved to Bridgeton a suburb of Glasgow, he grew up in the dark poverty ridden tenement slums of the area. When he was old enough Alex started work in a Mill there. At night, however, he studied at the West of Scotland Technical College, where he excelled and gained distinction

In 1893 at the age of 24, he went into partnership with his brother in law one John Worton, manufacturing a bicycle called the "Worvan". This however was a critical time for the cycle industry in general, for within a year many cycle manufacturers had gone bankrupt by over estimating the market demand.

In consequence, Govan closed down the "Worvan" works and moved to Redditch in Worcestershire to work for The Eadie Manufacturing Company, a light engineering works making various components and industrial machines.

In May 1897, The Eadie Mfg Co. imported three cars from the Continent, namely a Vallee, a Mors and a Benz, all of which were subsequently taken apart, from which the Eadie Co. built their own car in which Alex Govan was principally involved.

In Spring 1899 Alex decided to return home to Scotland and took a job as the Sales Representative of Charles Churchill and Co., the Machine Tool manufacturers

In August of the same year, The Scottish Manufacturing Company making components for the cycle manufacturers and headed by a Mr William A Smith was wound up

The said Mr Smith and the liquidators were looking for a suitable manager to reconstruct the firm, and Alex Govan was the man they chose.

William A. Smith was a successful entrepreneur; he was Vice Chairman of the National Telephone Company, a Director of Bryant & May (the match people) and a Director of The United Alkali Company. In all, a very astute business man. He had negotiated the control of all British Patent Rights to Telephones, Phonographs and Gramophones. He now decided to enter the Motor Car industry, and would prove to be well suited to this new advanced industry, particularly with his knowledge of Patent Law. Thus in October 1899, Alex Govan took over the management of The Scottish Manufacturing Co. in Hozier Street, Glasgow, and renamed it The Hozier Engineering Company, for tool making, car repairing and car assembly Within a few months the firm produced the first Argyll "Voiturette".
In March 1900 the new company became Limited, with a Capital of £15000. Alex Govan was appointed Manager for 5 years at a salary of £360 plus 10% of the profits until his salary reached £500 and 5% of the profits thereafter.

William A. Smith was appointed Chairman of the company, holding 1000 shares and John Worton (Alex's brother in law) was made Secretary, holding 500 shares.

'The largest individual shareholder was a Mr. Robert Pattison, a chemical manufacturer from the Vale of Leven and a personal friend of Smith's.

Alex Govans new car at the Hozier factory was based on the machine he had evolved at Redditch. It certainly had many of the features of the Continental "Voiturette" and had been likened to the French shaft-drive Renault. Louis Renault, however, took no legal action against Govan. No doubt William Smith with his experience in Patent Litigation, had advised the company well.

Nevertheless, Renault must have insisted that Govan must design his own gearbox for the Hozier Company's first Patent No. 5946, which was a gearbox Patent for the improvements in driving gear for motor vehicles and the like.

In view of this, it follows that a new design gearbox was evolved and was used on all subsequent cars produced up to 1909.

The 1899 Argyll "Voiturette" was produced at a rock bottom price of 155 Guineas. It was unlike the design of any other cars such as those made by Johnston and other local manufacturers, who basically motorised horse drawn carriages. Instead, Govan designed his horseless carriage around a tubular frame similar to that found on a bicycle, since his firm was ideally suited to make such frames. The "Voiturette" was fitted with a 2.75 h.p. De Dion engine, with a water cooled radiator, electric ignition and a carburettor by Longuemare. The engine was placed at the front of the car coupled by a drive shaft to the rear wheels via a clutch and gearbox. The gearbox gave three forward speeds of approximately 18, 12 and 6 miles per hour respectively and a slow reverse. The vehicle was stopped by a hand brake on the motor shaft, in addition to a hand brake fitted to each of the rear driving wheels.

During 1900 nearly a hundred of the 2.75 h.p. "Voiturettes" were manufactured and sold. At first the Argyll car was only known of locally, but thanks to the reliability trials of 1901 the Argyll was talked about as a car of the future.

In 1901 a new Argyll was introduced by lengthening the chassis and providing a 4 seat body with a 5 h.p. engine. By 1902 the "Voiturette" was dropped in favour of the Argyll Light Car" which offered 3 types of engine and 4 types of body. During this period the company claimed to manufacture more cars than any other concern in Britain, i.e. 30 vehicles per week.

The expansion of the company was phenomenal, the Scottish Motoring Journal "Motor World" claimed that the Argyll gearbox was one of the most important factors in the Argyll success. Thus, the Argyll became known as a car of reliability and, to emphasise these points, publicity became an important part of the company's strategy.

Success followed success in subsequent performance and reliability tests and in 1904 Govan travelled to Europe arid America to look at car production techniques.

In Detroit he saw the new Packard plant, which was then the largest car manufacturer in the world, and the mass production techniques of '[he National Cash Register Company.

With all this in mind, he brought back ideas that he hoped to use in a new modern factory. Standardisation of parts was to be the aim, but not mass production, a concept yet to be applied to car making. He hoped that by manufacturing standard parts in large quantities he could produce a cheaper car. In this way, each piece of motor car could be made on a special tool, rather than on a jig or blueprint, and would remain standard and unmodified for at least a few seasons. Even so, each part had to be hand fitted and each car hand built.

By this time it was obvious that the Hozier Works were not large enough to cope with plans for increased production to meet current and future demands. It was decided, therefore, to build a new modern factory under the name of Argyll Motors Ltd., with Smith and Govan having a majority shareholding. In 1905 work began on the new home for the Argyll Car Company at a site in Alexandria, a medium size town some twenty miles to the North of Glasgow and one mile from Balloch at the South end of Loch Lomond and the mouth of the River Leven.

The new Works were of breathtaking size, covering a site of 24 acres. The plant, with its administrative building, workshops and power house containing seven direct drive dynamos took just over a year to complete.

This in itself was quite a remarkable feat, bearing in mind that there was little or no mechanical machinery such as excavators or bulldozers available at that time.

For a factory, it was an impressive work of architecture, with its hand wrought red sandstone frontage and tower with a brilliant white clock face surmounted by a gilt dome.

The front entrance was magnificently carved, with a grand marble staircase inside leading to the upper floor of the building.

The front drive had broad wide pavements, green arid gold painted railings and ornamental gates to match.

It is reported that the grand staircase of marble imported from Italy and built by Italian workers was a copy of one in the Paris Opera House.

The cost of the building, etc. was £250,000 - the dome alone, encased in gold leaf, amounted to £2,000 - and another £250,000 for production and other start-up costs, making a total of £500,000, being a fair sum of money in those days.

The new Alexandria Works were officially opened on June 26th 1906 by Lord Montague of Beaulieu, who arrived by special train and was greeted by 1,600 workers gathered at the front of the building to hear the inaugural speeches.

At the time of opening, Govan said that one of his aims was to make the conditions of labour as comfortable a possible. Thus the welfare of the employees was considered by providing all departments with hot and cold water and lockers for their neat overalls which were provided for them by the company.
There was a well appointed restaurant in which well cooked meals were available at convenient hours.

In addition, facilities were provided for leisure activities such as cycling, football clubs, rifle clubs, ambulance classes and a male voice choir.

Once the firm was fully operational, the Works for a time had the highest production irate in Europe by producing sixty cars per week.

They employed some 1500 workers, many in skilled occupations of mechanics, coach builders, coach trimmers and French polishers (mainly women). Shipyard workers were even known to change their allegiance.

It is worth noting that in 1907 Argyll had two apprentice mechanics working at the same bench - they were John Logie Baird of Helensburgh and Oliver Hutchinson of Belfast. They became great friends, both entering the Army in the 1914-18 War. They met again later and worked on what was then the dream of television. Each played his own part, Baird being the brains and Hutchinson the energy.

The first successful demonstration of TV in 1926 showed Hutchinson's face.

On May 17th 1907 Govan took some business colleagues to lunch at the Grosvenor' Restaurant in Gordon Street, Glasgow, and whilst there he fell ill. He went home and in Helensburgh ten days later he died of cerebral haemorrhage. He was buried on 29th May.

On Govan's death, Andrew Morris Thomson, Govan's young assistant, stepped into his shoes. An engineer by training, he had studied at St. Andrew's University and at the Royal College of Science in London. However, the Directors thought Thomson was too young to take over and later in 1907 Eustace Watson, the Manager of Argyll's London Showroom, was appointed as Managing Director.

Govan's death was a severe blow to the company, for as Managing Director he must have been aware of what was going to happen in the next few months or so. Not only was economic recession just around the corner, but some £32000 worth of parts were going to be scrapped because of the immense improvement attained in the construction of the past season's cars. It was found to be impossible to standardise parts and keep designs up-to-date. The plant was becoming unworkable. However, in 1907 the company, under the control of Eustace Watson, continued to turn out quality cars. It produced two new models -a 10/12 and a 12/16. The 12/16 model had four cylinders cast in one block, quite a technical achievement at that time. A year later, in 1908, the prestigious Argyll 40 was introduced, the first car to be made with an entirely French Aster designed engine. It gained a class win in the Scottish Reliability trials. In spite of all this, however, the company was on shaky ground, since they had accrued outstanding debts of' £36000. At an Extraordinary General Meeting held at the Masonic Hall in West Regent Street, Glasgow, on 14th July 1908 a Resolution was passed that the company be wound up voluntarily.

However, the liquidators recommended that the company should be reconstructed rather than wound up, for it was worth more as a going concern than if its assets were sold

Eustace Watson, the M.D. at the time spoke as hopefully as ever of putting Argylls into a satisfactory condition. This was not to be, for some months later the liquidators appointed a new Managing Director, one John Smart Matthews who was put up by the Dunlop Tyre Company, one of Argyll's main creditors.

Matthews had much to do, for in February 1909 the shareholders received a circular from him giving them details of a new company the liquidators had decided to form, namely Argyll Ltd. The first shareholders meeting of the new company was in March1909.

John Matthews had made a mark on the company, for in November of the same year a profit was reported from the sale of 100 cars.

Whilst he may have been forced to work for Argyll by the Dunlop Company, he nevertheless put his heart and soul into the company and in the following year he introduced an entirely new range of cars.
John Matthews had been sitting in the Managing Director's chair at Alexandria for only eight months when he was visited by an inventor, Peter Burt.

Burt showed Matthews the model of a new engine he had designed, which he hoped would revolutionise the motor car. Argyll, like many other manufacturers, had been testing a number of different types of engine. Their aim was to find a silent, vibrationless engine with sufficient torque to reduce awkward gear changing to the minimum. The Peter Burt engine appeared to be far more advanced and sophisticated than Daimler's and other manufacturers' designs.

Peter Burt and John Matthews respected each other, Matthews as the businessman and Burt as the engineer. Burt was born in Glasgow in 1856, the son of an engineer. His credentials were impeccable.

In 1881 he established his own business, The Acme Machine Company. Two special branches of the business developed - one for the manufacture of domestic laundry equipment and the other for the manufacture of internal combustion engines. Peter Burt was very much the Victorian inventor, inventing and manufacturing such things as washing machines, mangles, perambulators, stoves, mincing machines and even ice cream freezers, though it was the Acme clothes wringer that earned the company a deserved reputation. It was called "the wringer of the age".

The patent files of the Acme Company bulged with every type of invention. It was even reported that Peter Burt's Father had made a motor car engine running off town gas.

Thus when Burt's Patents Division presented Argyll with a new original and almost flawless design of car engine it was no wonder that John Matthews was impressed. It was decided, therefore, to build a test engine as quickly as possible, using an existing 15 h.p. Argyll poppet valve engine with as many standard parts as possible.

The new engine was to be called the 15/30. Argyll's new sleeve-valve engine was first shown at Olympia in 1911 with a chassis that had revolutionary 4 wheel brakes fitted.

It was now eighteen months since the Argyll experimental car made its first trial run from Alexandria to London non-stop.

In 1910 Argyll Ltd. turned in a profit of £2171. In 1911 this figure increased to £6649, but at the A.G.M. of that year the Board of Directors was accused of failing to cash in on the general upturn of global car sales. Balance Sheets showed that there was less ready cash available i.e. £61000 in 1910, £23000 in 1911 (in fact, by 1912 cash available had dropped to £12000 with profits down to £3500.)

The company was turning out a few hundred cars per year in a factory designed to produce at least two thousand cars per year.

The workforce was half of that originally planned by Alex Govan and there was a great deal of spare factory space given over to storing cars.

To make matters worse, Argyll's major competitor, Arrol-Johnston, were able to sell more cars, as their cheap new 15.9 h.p model was proving to be very successful. At this time Arrol-Johnston made only one model, whereas Argyll made six. Nevertheless, Argyll Ltd. maintained their tradition of producing well built high quality machines. They were visually attractive, their engines and chassis matching the quality of their coach work. Indeed, from 1911 their car prices included many features for which other manufacturers made a charge. The sleeve-valve 15/30 at just over £500 was the most popular car, but its cost rose by £125 over two years, whilst its competitor, the 15.9 Arrol-Johnston, was selling at £375. It follows, therefore, that Argyll's costs were beginning to rise at an alarming rate. Sales needed to be increased and the quality and reliability of their cars had to be forcefully demonstrated to the public. So in 1913 record breaking attempts were made with the 15/30 sleeve-valve engine at the Brooklands Race Track in Surrey. The Brooklands model developed 45 b.h.p. against the standard model's 32 b.h.p.
W.G. Scott, Argyll's test engineer, (later a famous driver at Brooklands) drove the car alternately with his co-driver l.C. Hornsted in three hour shifts. The car ran continuously without problems, averaging 72.59 m.p.h.

The new 15/30 Argyll broke world records and its achievements were reported nationally. A fine achievement in all, but what was outstanding about the record breaking success was that the car had been built by a company which had no previous experience in track work or speed records. Such success at the Brooklands Trials added much needed prestige to the company. In spite of all this success, however, the year 1913 was disappointing, only showing a slight increase in profits for the company.

In consequence, three new Directors were appointed to the Board, their main job to investigate the finances of the company. By March 1914 Argyll share prices dropped alarmingly to an all-time low. History was repeating itself - it was 1908 all over again. Debenture holders were unimpressed and unwilling to support the company any longer. It was on the cards,therefore, that a take-over could possibly save the firm.

There were rumours of a deal with Arrol-Johnston. They undoubtedly had the money, but their recent move to new premises in Dumfries was unlikely to encourage them to take on another factory which was over a hundred miles away.

Attempts were made to strike a deal with Darracq, where John Matthews would retain the Bridgeton Argyll factory, with its manufacturing outlets, body shops and service department, together with Patent rights of the sleeve-valve engine. However, the Bank of Scotland, Argyll's major creditor, was unwilling to give its approval. It claimed that the company had been living off it for many years and felt that the time had now come to take the opportunity of reclaiming its money.

At this point, in May 1914, John Matthews resigned as Managing Director but still remained as a Board Director.

At a meeting of the shareholders on June 16th 1914 it was decided to liquidate the company, with R.W. Blackman, the then Chairman of only five months, as liquidator. Presiding at the meeting, Blackman claimed that, in hindsight, the company should have confined its energies and capital to the production of a standard car, rather than producing a number of different models. John Matthews made a short aggressive statement claiming that the Chairman's report was flawed with inaccuracies and that the task of restoring the company was "child's play" compared with that of the reconstruction of 1909. More interestingly, Matthews claimed that, in fact, the Board had blocked the original Darracq offer of £120000 for the Alexandria factory and two-thirds of the machinery therein, despite the fact that the offer had been increased by a further £20000.

It was at this point that Matthews resigned from the Board. He felt that a disinterested investigation would reveal a different story. The motion for liquidation was nevertheless carried out, but not before William Smith, the company's Chairman up to the 1909 crash, who was in attendance, had claimed that the management were not fit to run a hen coop! Perhaps he was right. Notwithstanding, the die was cast and Argyll Ltd. went into liquidation.

It is ironic that, had they been able to stave off their creditors for another six weeks or so, in all probability the first World War with its huge demand for vehicles of all types would have saved them and Scotland might yet have had a motor car factory.

Footnote

On October 15th 1915 a small paragraph appeared in the motoring press to the effect that John Brimlow, Argyll's ex-Service Manager, had bought from the Receiver the old Argyll Bridgeton Works with its service and bodybuilding facilities. He proposed to carry on servicing Argyll cars and manufacturing spare parts for same. Well over three thousand cars had been made in the fifteen year life of the company and in 1917 business was sufficiently good for a new Argyll Motor Company to be formed. Its ultimate intention was to reintroduce the Argyll car after the war.

John Brimlow set up his business with a capital of £50000, of which £15000 was his own stake.

His co-directors included some of his colleagues from Alexandria and in 1920 the company was in the position to again offer a car for sale. The old 15/30 car was redesigned and a year later it was reviewed by Motor World magazine. The new car's most notable feature was its pulling power in top gear at a maximum speed of 47 m.p.h.

However, the car did not outshine its cheaper competitors and, as a result, only eleven of the £900 15/30 Argyll cars were produced. Other well known similar makes at the time were the [lumber 15.9 selling at £850, the Talbot-Darracq at £895 and the Arrol-Johnston at a paltry £600.

In 1921 the re-formed Argyll company exhibited at Olympia - but this was for the last time. In 1922 the company introduced a new l2 h.p. model. In 1926 a new sports car appeared. and at the 1927 show at Olympia, a 50 hp car was announced, but it never appeared. From that year the Bridgeton factory returned to servicing the old Argyll cars. By now, John Brimlow and his brother Charles owned most of the company's capital, with a John Anderson owning the vast majority of the remaining worthless shares. There were debts of over £35000 and on the 17th November 1932 Brimlow was appointed liquidator and the works were closed. However, the Argyll Motor Company was not finally wound up until 1963, for John and his brother Charles had lost all interest in it.

This was, therefore, the very last nail in the coffin for the Argyll motor car.

Notwithstanding, there can be little doubt that the Argyll concern was one of the most colourful car companies in Britain.

In many ways the Argylls were ahead of their time, technically and in the field of public relations, with their palatial factory and test grounds, and their Oxford Street showrooms with instructresses to teach the ladies how to drive their new Argyll.

The Beginning and the End

Hozier Engineering Company Ltd (1899-1905)

Bridgeton, Glasgow

Alexander Govan General Manager 1899-1905


Argyll Motors Ltd (1905-1909)

Alexandria, Dumbartonshire

Alexander Govan Managing Director 1905-1907

Andrew Thomson Managing Director 1907

Eustace Watson Managing Director 1907-1909


Argyll Ltd (1909/1914)

John Matthews Managing Director 1909-1914

In the 15 years of development and production of the Argylls, beginning with the "Voiturettes" up to prestigious limousines, some 3000 cars were produced, including vehicles such as Fire Engines, Taxicabs, Sports Cars and Racing Cars for Brooklands. At one period vehicle production figures were the highest in Britain and only surpassed by that of the Ford Motor Company of America.

After the failure of the company in 1914, John Brimlow, Argyll’s Service Manager acquired the old Bridgeton works to service and maintain existing Argyll cars.

A new re-formed Argyll Motor Co. was set up in 1917 with a view to producing cars after the war. In 1920 some new cars were introduced, only to be outpriced by competitors in due course, and resulting in the company finally closing down in 1932.

Epilogue

Following the closure of the Argyll factory in June 1914, it was taken over by Armstrong Whitworth in October of the same year for the production of munitions.

It was later taken over by the Ministry of Munitions in 1916 and was locally known as the "Gun Works". No guns were made, however, only shells.

On the cessation of hostilities in November 1918, the factory closed and remained empty until 1926.

In 1926 a company known as Scottish Amalgamated Silks took over the factory. The company had two mills in England and intended to produce artificial silk in Alexandria.

However, only a nucleus of staff was actually employed and early in 1929, after complaints, the company's books were seized and the business was closed down. Some of the Directors were arrested and found guilty of fraud.

Once again the factory remained empty until 1935, when the Admiralty took it over for the production of torpedoes. Thus it became known as the "Torpedo Factory" - to give it its full name, the Royal Navy Torpedo Factory (RNTF). The factory produced torpedoes throughout the second World War and up to the 1950's, the Korean War and the Suez crisis.

During the 1960's the RNTF participated in a hush-hush project in connection with the "Chevelaine" underwater weapon. Work on this project was just completed when the Government closed the factory down and transferred all work to Weymouth. The closure took place in 1969.

The Plessey Electronic Company were the next company to take the factory over in 1970, lured into the area by Government grants. Plessey took over all the assets of the factory. They planned to make traffic control equipment, to take advantage of the expected expansion of the motorway network in the U.K. In

May 1970 Plessey had begun to employ about 30 people. By August the same year the number had risen to 200. However, within weeks of employing these people the security of their positions was not evident. 'The company had begun dismantling machines and the workers discovered that visitors to the factory had indeed been machine buyers. Their stay in Alexandria was short and unhappy. They pulled out within twenty-four months, but not before the workforce had staged a stubborn "sit in" unsuccessfully trying to prevent the closure of the factory and the transfer of the work down south.

After the departure of Plessey a number of small companies set up in various parts of the factory, which became known as the Alexandria Industrial Estate. The majority failed but a few prospered. The unused factory was eventually sold to a London-based company who did nothing to maintain the fabric of this "listed building".

After many years of deterioration, detailed planning consent was given for redevelopment as a shopping centre for fashion and other goods to be sold at prices 40% to 60% below those in the high street. The new centre, known as Loch Lomond Factory Outlets, was opened in the Spring of 1997. A plaque marking its official opening was unveiled by H R H The Princess Royal in August 1998.

Over twenty shops are now provided, with a substantial food court area, crèche and play scheme. A Motoring Heritage Centre is also included, where models of Argyll cars are on view. 'The original frontage of the building - and the majestic marble staircase - have been restored to their former beauty. The cost of the new centre was around £6 million - compared with the original cost of £250,000.

A Personal Note

I was born in Alexandria on the 3rd March 1919 at 20 King Edward Street, literally in the shadow of what was once the Argyll Motor Works.

I left Scotland with my Mother and Father to live in Cork, Southern Ireland, where my Father was the Night Shift Superintendent at the Ford Motor Company works.

This was the time of the "Troubles" in Ireland with the Sinn Fein patriots on the one side and the "Black and Tans" from England on the other side. Very troublesome times indeed, as no doubt some other's may recall.

It was during this period my Father met Donald McPherson, who was chief of the Drawing Office at Fords.

Donald, his Wife and Daughter became very close friends with us and it transpired that Donald had previously worked at the Argyll Motor Co. in Alexandria.

The interesting point was that he had worked in the Drawing Office on the next Drawing Board to none other than James Logie Baird. A very small world indeed.

Some nine years later we moved to Manchester as a result of my Father having been transferred to the Ford factory at Trafford Park.

After two years in Manchester we moved to Luton, Bedfordshire, where my Father took charge of the Gearbox Production Dept. at Vauxhall Motors Ltd and where I subsequently served an Indentured Apprenticeship.

At this time the McPherson family, who had previously moved from Cork to Fords at Dagenham ham, relocated to Luton,where Donald worked in the Planning Dept. at Vauxhall Motors. It was at this time Donald gave me a book of Four Figure Mathematical Tables which carried his signature dated Glasgow 1902. There is no doubt that he had used these tables whilst at the Argyll works. I still have the book, which I have used frequently during my own engineering career.

In 1936 my parents moved to Birmingham where I joined them in 1938 and where I have lived, worked and retired since then.

will not bore the reader further with my comings and goings, only to say that during all this time and up to the present I have kept in close touch with some members of my family in Alexandria, with regular visits whenever possible.

Over the years I have heard many stories of the Argyll works, from its beginnings as a Car Factory, then a Munitions Factory, a Silk works, a Torpedo factory and so on.

As a matter of interest my Mother worked at the "Gun Works" for a period during the 1914/18 Great War. It was here that my Mother met my Father who had enlisted in The Highland Light Infantry but was deemed more useful to the war effort as a skilled Marine Engineer.

My Father was born in Belfast of lrish/Scottish parents, he served an Indentured Apprenticeship at Harland and Wolffs and worked on the building of the engines of the ill-fated, unsinkable Titanic.

Towards the completion of the ship, tie was offered an onboard position as 16th Engineer'.

It goes without saying he did not take the offer, had he done so it is most unlikely that I would be around today.

However, during the course of my life I have seldom come across anyone outside the Vale, or its immediate surroundings, who had heard of the Argyll Motor Works let alone an Alexandria in Scotland.

This, particularly as I consider myself to be a Scot and proud of it, has prompted me to produce this booklet, mainly for my own benefit and satisfaction, and for anyone who might be interested I make no claim to being a writer, I have simply copied and condensed the information available at the time, thanks to the authors previously mentioned in the foreword.



John Campbell Watson
Birmingham 1998

© John Campbell Watson and the Motoring Heritage Centre1998.
Reproduced by permission of John Campbell Watson and the Motoring Heritage Centre.
All rights reserved.
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