NARRATIVES OF THE INDUSTRY.
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The Evolution of the Prominent Concerns in the British Commercial Vehicle Industry which have Made History by the Pursuit of a Progressive Policy.
RICHARD GARRETT AND SONS, LTD.
IN SETTING out to deal with the growth and development of Richard Garrett and Sons, Ltd., one is perforce compelled to delve very deeply into the past and to carry one's retrospection back to the era before the coming of the mechanical age when the company's activities were chiefly concerned with the production of sickles and scythes, the only agricultural tools then known.
It was, as a matter of fact, as long ago as 1778 that Richard Garrett, the great-great-grandfather of the present directors of the company, established the works at Leiston, from which the existing company, who occupy a prominent position
in the general engineering and boiler-making trades, have evolved.
The original productions of the company were followed in „the course of a few years by such implements as turnip cutters, chaff cutters, iron ploughs and harrows, and in the early part of the nr.neteenth. century they took upon themselves the task of building the first horse-power threshing machine. Their activities in connection with general agricultural tools progiessed in an uninterrupted manner for the next 30 or more years, and about 1840 the idea was conceived of employing steam power for certain agricultural tasks,
After patient and exhaustive experiments with this end in view, a set of steam threshing machinery was produced, and the company were amongst the first manufacturers to exhibit a set of this description at a public show in England, the occasion being an agricultural exhibition at Norwich. The knowledge of the company's manufacturing activities in: this direction ultimately spread to the Continent., and
many of the earliest steam threshing sets employed in Italy, Germany, Austria and other countries were (reduced in the Leiston works, which ever since the year I:, I have enjoyed one of the largest export trades in steam engines and threshers in the world. To such an extent did this branch of industry develop that the trade in smaller machinery manufactured prior to 1840 was eventually abandoned.
For the remaining years of the nineteenth century the energies of the company were concentrated on the production of agricultural machinery of all kinds, and, naturally enough, the various appliances which were produced for land tillage and such tasks improved in general design and construction as a greater knowledge of the requirements of the agriculturist was acquired. It can certainly be said that the company have always kept well abreast of the times in this direction ; in fact, it was incumbent upon them to do so since the supply of agricultural appliances formed the mainstay of their business.
A typical self-propelled engine which was built at this period is shown in the line illustration which accompanies this article. This "self-moving'' engine, as it was termed, was constructed in December, 1876, and was marketed for many of the following years. It was provided with a twospeed gear and, in the words of an old leaflet descriptive of its design, "for rounding corners an arrangement was provided for throwing the travelling wheels out of gear by means of a simple striking lever on either side and without recourse to the most objectionable jack-in-the-box' differential gearing, which has been proved so productive of unnecessary friction and of consequent breakages."
The first Garrett traction engine was built in 1898, and from this period the company became more intimately associated with road-transport vehicles. It was a few years later —1904 to wit—when Richard Garrett and Sons, Ltd., designed. their first undertype steam wagon, the general points of construction of which can be clearly seen in one of our illustrations. It will be observed that the layout of the chassis very closely resembles modern practice, although the boiler and engine mechanism occupy somewhat more space than is generally the case on the present-day wagon. This type of vehicle achieved a considerable measure of popularity for the company, who gave much attention to its construction for a number of years. Since that date they have marketed with success several types of steam wagon with capacities ranging from 3 to 6 tons, and as recently as 1922 brought out their latest undertype steam wagon in which many refinements necessitated by modern conditions of operation are incorporated.
A year or two before the war the company gave their earnest attention to the market which existed for electric vehicle?, and, after a thorough investigation of the possibilities of this type of transport unit in certain spheres of work, produced in 1913 a vehicle of this class. That this model has well maintained the reputation of the company cannot be disputed, for examples of the Garrett electric are to be found in use in all parts of the country, and particularly amongst municipal authorities, who have found that for certain local tasks this class of vehicle has no compeer. In 1916 the Leiston works of the company were extended and a well-designed factory equipped with modern machine tools built alongside the Leiston railway station, and shops were specially designed and laid out for the construction of the undertype steam wagon and the electric vehicle, the old factory being devoted entirely to the manufacture of power plant, engines and boilers. Since the introduction of the electric vehicle, their road-transport activities have been devoted to the advancement of the claims of this vehicle and also of the steam wagon, both of which are made in a wide range of sizes.
Richard Garrett and Sons, Ltd., are now operating as a branch of Agricultural and General Engineers, Ltd., a company who acquired the issued share capital in 1920. The major portion of their present-day activity, as in the earliest days of the company's formation, is devoted to meeting the many and varied needs of the agriculturist and, apart from read transpert vehicles, they manufacture threshing machines, clover hullers, mealie shellers, straw elevators, stackers, and last, but not least, certain types-of trailer.