Did you know that the Jowett Car Company resided in Oak Mills on Station Road and just around the corner on Clayton Lane replica M.G. motor parts were being machined?
In 1947, the Jowett Motor Group Company came to Clayton. They purchased Oak Mills for £50,000 and used the building as a spares department. Following this, because the premises were so large, rough castings and engine gearbox casings were made. In 1949, a service department was introduced and later the manufacturer of the Jowett Jupiter steel body frame went into production. Incidentally the Jowett Jupiter sports car won its class three times at Le Mans. Clayton was a noisy place in the late 1940’s/early 1950’s. The term “Sheater” was a name given to panel beaters who shaped the cars to their finished appearance. Because every car was built by hand each example was slightly different from the one that went before. There were around 100 people who worked at the plant; from the office staff to the shop floor. The main Jowett works was situated at Five Lane Ends on the site now occupied by Morrisons and Enterprise Five. This is where the car and Bradford Van were made. The Jowett Bradford Van was favoured by small trades because of its strength and reliability. The engine was unique in that the cylinders of the engine were horizontally opposed and laid flat at opposite sides of the crankshaft. This design was used by Volkswagen but differed in the way that the engine was cooled.
The Jowett Javelin was a saloon car of a sleek shape and a classical aerodynamic design. Doctor Hardaker of the Cowgill Surgery owned one and would often be seen driving it around the village visiting his patients. In 1952, before the age of two-tone horns, sirens, flashing lights and blue rotating beacons on cars, he was called upon to make a life or death drive from Clayton to the children’s hospital in Manningham. So, ignoring road signs, traffic lights, mounting the kerb on several occasions etc, he travelled at break neck speeds through Bradford to get a four year old boy treated for horrendous burns to his upper torso. The child, now a man, survives to this day, being in his early sixties and a grateful recipient of the commitment made by the G.P. in his hour of need. The quote followed “A great man in a great car”!
Car production historically was confined to the South of England in the great manufacturing plants of Coventry and Oxford but for over fifty years Jowett churned out its own beast. Sadly in 1954 the firm closed its doors to manufacture blaming the difficulties of obtaining steel and raw materials. Because Jowett’s was a huge employer there was mass unemployment around the area as well as the loss of a Bradford institution. The works in Clayton was closed and sold to the wool marketing board in the early 1950’s. The Wool Marketing Board closed down in Clayton in October 1999 and shortly afterwards the huge Victorian structure was demolished and left to the annals of our great British past. To the young and folk new to the area, the building was bordered by Station Road/Nursery Road/Oak Street and Oakleigh Avenue. The area in the middle is now a new housing complex. Pinfold and Jacobs Croft are street name references to the past when sheep were kept there.
For further information of the life and times of the Jowett car industry, pay a visit to Bradford’s Industrial Museum on Moorside Road in Eccleshill where you will see a display of Jowett motor cars.
In direct contrast to the Jowett Corporation a small local firm took over a joiners shop on Tenter Hill in the mid 1970’s vacated by Storey and Lee, the funeral directors. Their name was Holroyd and Hall who was commissioned by MG cars to produce a sports car body made of ash and called the MGTF. Working with technical drawings they machined and assembled body parts to strict specifications. The overall dimensions being roughly six feet long by four feet wide and three feet high. Then the “Body Tub”, as it was known, would be sent to MG where they would mount it on a steel chassis twelve feet long. After assembling all the other components, including fitting a 1700cc engine, a £12,000 price tag would be slapped on the windscreen. Towards the end of the 1980’s the company had run up some debt but were bought out by Naylor Motors who took the enterprise to Dudley Hill in the early 1990’s.