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Vulcan 1904

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Album name:frank / Threaded Hubcap Photos and Information
Filesize:8396 Bytes
Date added:Aug 17, 2007
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Frank   [Aug 17, 2007 at 01:12 PM]
Joseph Hampson from Wigan was in trade as a carpenter and cabinet maker. He had four sons and a daughter, and all the sons had connections with what was to become Vulcan.The name Vulcan comes principally from the Greek god Hephaestus, the patron of blacksmiths. To the Romans, Vulcan was the god of fire who in later years was deemed to have control over forges and metalwork like Hephaestus, the nearest Greek equivalent.

Joseph's eldest son, Thomas, was employed as a manual instructor by the Bolton Educational Department at the Technical College from 1896 to 1902. While there, he and his younger brother Joesph designed and built their first experimental motor vehicle. Some sources suggest that this vehicle was built as early as 1897 but this was most likely the year work started. A photograph of this car, dated 1899, shows the brothers seated in the vehicle. The "Wigan Reporter" reported in its 22nd September 1899 edition how Joseph Hampson was fined 40/- plus costs for driving a motor car to the danger of passengers.

Around 1901 Thomas Hampson, Joseph Hampson and E Hope floated a small company with premises in the Old Drill Hall, Yellow House Lane, Southport. By January 1902 the first production car was built and displayed at the Liverpool Cycle and Motor Show in February. This was a 4 hp single-cylinder voiturette with a Renault like bonnet. The engine was transversely mounted in a tubular frame and drove the rear wheels. It was priced at 130 guineas (£136 10 shillings). This vehicle was also displayed at the Automobile Show at the Agricultural Hall in May.

The January 1903 editions of "Automobile Journal" noted, under "new companies registered", that the Vulcan Motor & Engineering Company of Hawesside Street, Southport had been reformed as the Vulcan Motor Manufacturing & Engineering Company Ltd. with capital of £10,000 in £1 shares.

In early advertisements the Vulcan Motor & Engineering Company made much more of its trade accessories than its motor vehicles.

A March 1903 advertisement showed a completely revised Light Car. This had a wood frame, wooden artillery wheels and shaft drive. It could have either a 6.5 hp or 9 hp single-cylinder engine and cost either 165 or 175 guineas (£173 5 shillings or £177 15 shillings). One of the 6.5 hp cars took part in the September 1903 1000-mile Trial but had to retire after a collision on the second day.

Unusually, a tiller steered car was displayed at the Crystal Palace Show of February 1904 priced at £110. This seems to be a step back as the previous cars had steering wheels.

By now the name of Vulcan was becoming established outside of Lancashire. Sales during 1904 came to nearly £9,000, £17,000 in 1905 and around £43,000 in 1905/1906. This represents 35-40 cars in 1904, 50-60 in 1905 and 100-130 during 1906.

A new company was formed called the Vulcan Motor & Engineering Company (1906) Ltd. and more land was acquired at Rufford Road, Crossens, around three miles north of Southport and a new building erected. Thomas remained as managing director, with Walter Hamer as chairman and David Purves, John Hamer, Peter Gaskell and John Mawdsley as directors. No other member of the Hampson family ever served on the board. William Hampson who, like his father, was a first class joiner and cabinet maker, joined the company on 1906 initially as a Clerk of Works to the building of the new factory. He later took charge of the coachbuilding side of the business. Once completed, the new factory employed 700 men producing about 20 cars a week.

The remaining brother, Joshua, briefly worked at Vulcan before becoming chauffeur to the Duchess of Marlborough at Blenheim Palace. While there, he recommended a Vulcan Landualet as a replacement car.

Vulcan were by now selling cars to many countries including New Zealand, Australia, India, Canada, Africa, Malaya, Indonesia, Newfoundland, Ceylon, Spain and the West Indies. At one time consideration was given to setting up a second factory in New Zealand, Canada or Scotland but these came to nothing.

The new Crossens works was in full production by 1908, while Hawesside Street concentrated on coachwork, painting, trimming and finishing. In June 1908 a fire at Hawesside Street in the paint shop destroyed six completed cars and fifty-one bodies causing £4,000 worth of damage. The Crossens plant was again extended in 1911 and 1913 due to increased production. By now most production was centered at Crossens and Hawesside Street was used for testing and repairs.

During the Great War Vulcan, like most other motor manufacturers, turned to war work making limbers and aircraft frames. Contracts included De Havilland DH4, DH9 and DH9A. Around 600 ABC Dragonfly radial aero-engines were also produced during 1919. Other war work included mine-firing mechanisms and depth charge pistols for the Admiralty.

Thomas was well thought of by his employees and the company backed works football teams, boxing, works band and other such activities. In 1917 Thomas was made Lord Mayor of Southport. Vulcan built many houses for munitions workers with the help of government subsidies.Large profits made during 1916 led to suggestions of impropriety at the Crossens works and the brothers left the company. While still on war work, Vulcan found time to establish commercial vehicle production and after the war was in a better position to continue with commercials rather than private cars.The first post war car was a 15.9 hp model sometimes called a 15/20

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