View Full Version : H A HAMSHAW, Humberstone Gate, Leicester
30-09-2008, 3:03 PM
I'm looking for any information on H A HAMSHAWS, Coachbuilders of Humberstone Gate, Leicester.
My grandfather EDWARD HANKEY worked there in 1920's before moving to Aberystwyth in 1935.
The story in the family is that he drove a yellow Rolls Royce to Lord Lonsdale's estate in Cumbria. I guess this was quite a sight and epic journey in those days!!
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
30-09-2008, 6:37 PM
According to The National Archives (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=B6428), a great deal of information from 1880 to 1961 has been deposited with the Leicester Records Office (http://www.leics.gov.uk/index/community/museums/record_office.htm).
01-10-2008, 7:50 AM
Many thanks for that, I'll have to visit the LRO next time I'm that way and see what I can dig up.
02-10-2008, 9:59 PM
When I worked in Leicester (1962-1968) Hamshaws were in Welford Road, in what were then fairly modern garage premises. In fact my brother-in-law was a mechanic there around the same time. I imagine that this was the same company as the one in Humbsrtone Gate and that it had moved into new premises. But by the 1960s coachbuilding had morphed into bodyshop work! A lot less glamorous!
03-10-2008, 2:03 PM
[QUOTE=David Hankey;201838][I]I'm looking for any information on H A HAMSHAWS, Coachbuilders of Humberstone Gate, Leicester.
My grandfather EDWARD HANKEY worked there in 1920's before moving to Aberystwyth in 1935.
The story in the family is that he drove a yellow Rolls Royce to Lord Lonsdale's estate in Cumbria. I guess this was quite a sight and epic journey in those days!!Quote]
David, Hamshaws ,that is a famous old name in motoring circles here in Leicester .They were Morris (another famous old name ) dealers and had quite a few sites over town,for service ,sales and parts .Sadly now slipped away like lots of others,but even futher back they were coachbuilders,something I had 'nt known,till I Googled it.
" Est in 1865 ,Started motor body building in 1907 and ceased in 1926,they then became distributers of Morris,Riley and Vanden Plas Princess cars."
there are several mentions of bodies built for important clients on Rolls-Royce cars ,so that ties in nicely with your family story as your grandad was delivering it to Lord Lonsdale.
Hello, My name is Robert Eustaace and your request for information with regard to Hamshaws has prompted this reply.
i worked as an assistant Coach Trimmer at the Firm as a School leaver in 1957. I remember some of the people who worked there, and received much information from the Coach Trimmer whom I asisted.
The firm at that time was owned by the British Motor Corporation.
Coaches were made at the premises, and I beleive that Lord Lonsdale did business there.
I was told that the coach work had to be done in Lonsdale Yellow, which was the Lonsdale Family Livery.
If you would like to correspond, do so,
02-11-2008, 11:36 AM
Thank you all for your replies and snippets of information. I intend going to the Leicester Records Office as I have found some references to documents
to do with Hamshaws. Should prove very interesting.
i commenced work at hamshaws garage, at Humberstone Gate Leicester on leaving school in the month of August, 1957.
i wished to learn the Trade of Upholstry.
The Youth Employment Officer discouraged me from an aprenticeship with an Upholstry business as he said that he beleived the trade was about to go out of existance.
The reason he provided in his wisdom, was that the modern trend in furniture was toward mass produced tubilar and moulded fiber glass items, and therefore the skills of old were no longer of future use.
The works Manager was mr. Bill Stubley, and his Assistant was Roland Glover.
I was allocated the job of Assistant Coach Trimmer, and the Craftsman to teach me the work was Mr. Cliff Randal.
He had learnt the Trade from leaving school, and was an exellent Coach trimmer.
He provided me with many stories about the people who had worked there.
His favourite character was a past forman named Mr. Orme, who apparently was an ammature inventor
Another character he spoke of was a Mr. Dennis Reed.
Mr. Reed had been a member of The Leicester Secular Society, which had premises in Humberstone Gate.
The Trimming Shop was on the second floor.
also on the second floor was the Sign Writers Dept.
On the first floor was the Car Cleaning Area where a one armed man called Harry, who always had a pipe in his mouth, and a man called Stan Weekly,
he was balding with glasses and rode an old bicycle,worked.
Both Harry and Stan would be detailed to polish and groom any car that that salesmen intended to sell, and their work was immaculate.
Also on the First floor was the Store.
The store was manned by M.Jack Makepeace, he was only able to move around on walking sticks and would spend his time commanding the movements of his assistant, Mr. David Laurance. If you want more info. let me Know.
08-01-2009, 8:15 AM
Dear Oxo many thanks for your replies and how interesting to hear of your experiences especially after what the Youth Employment Officer had told you.
My real interest goes back to the 1920's when my grandfather was employed there and I am particularly interested to learn more about any business the company received from Lord Lonsdale.
I would appreciate any further details you might have on this front.
Hi David, Part 1
Reference the period 1920s.
I did not join the Firm untill 1957. though Mr. Clifford Randle had been employed there during that period.
The garage was situated between the Lewis arcade (which was acually a passage with steps leading ddown from the old lane at the rear to Humberstone Gate.)and the Manchester Working Men,club.
Humberstone Gate at the time was divded as a duel carriegeway, with raised concrete flower beds; these beds are now situated at the area of Lime Kiln Lock near the Abbey Park Road.
Directly opposit the building was The Bell Hotel, and situated in the central reservation was a Gentlemens subteranian lavatory. As a child, i remember there had also been a Tram stop there,on the central reservation, near the lavatory.
The main work, ie. Mechanics, Body work, Ellectrics and paintwork were done in a seperate building across the lane at the rear.
The head painters name was Charllie, The work had to be worked with wet and dry fine emery cloth between each layer untill the required finish had been achieved.The paint shop was on the Second floor.
On the first floor was the Body shop where the panel beaters would beat the sheet metal with rounded conical mallets.
They would sometimes have to make exhaust pipes and silencers.
these would be made of copper to restrict or dull the sound of the car engine, and were expensive.
The Head Craftsman in the Body shop,s name was Mr. Ted Tune, and his Assistant,s name was Mr. Bob Chesterton.
an Aprentice also worked with them. I do not remember his name but he rode a Norton Motor Cycle and was fond of visiting the Peak District on it.
On the Ground floor which was always on full veiw to the passing Public, who used the Lane as a short cut to Lewis,s and Marks and Spencers and frequented by a man with no legs, an accordienist, and a weight lifter.
was where the Grease Monkey, a man whose name was Mr. Len Weaver worked.
The team of Mechanics was too large to remember, I only have an immage of the Forman in my mind.
However I do remember Mr. Bob Allen, the Ellectricion on account of his untidy work bench; his boast was the inspite of the apparent chaos of his work space, he never lost his kit, and always able to find whatever was required.
Of interest to you reference the period of interest, is The Wheel Wright,s Gallery.
The Gallery was at First Floor level and overlooked the Mechanical Working Area. All the old Wheel making machinery was on the Gallery, but in 1957, it was nothing more than an Industrial Museum. If you want Part 2, let me know.
11-01-2009, 12:22 PM
Thanks for that, please post Part 2. I certainly remember the location of Hamshaws and some of the nearby properties such as the Bell Hotel and Lewis's on the corner with Gallowtree Gate.
thanks for the request for part two.
the coach trimmer, mr. clifford randal would sometimes provide information about the attiudes of the employees.
i was told that the greaser lived in syston street, at that time the longest street in leicester, and that his life style was simple and uncomplicated.
that he believed that all you needed to get through life was a coal fire in the grate, a few chairs to sit on and a rag rug on the floor.
he would often visit the nearby abbey park,with his wife and son, and they would make their way to a large tree near the canal.
the tree was the largest in that area of the park, and at that time, had a circular seat around it.
Len and his family percieved the tree as their own and would feel put out if others were sitting there.
so fond of the tree were the family that they spent their anual holidays there with sandwiches and a flask of tea.
another character was a welshman who worked in the paint shop.
he spent his spare time wandering the countryside at the weekends, and would often recite passages from the rubiat of omar kayham, he was also fond of beer.
at the time i worked there, coach building had ceased, however, coach chassis were brought from coventry to be built on.
the man who drove the chassis to leicester was harry grommit.
he would have to drive from coventry to leicester open to the weather.
i seem to remember him wearing a duffel coat and scarf and a sort of leather jacket without arms.
mr. clifford randal said that lord lonsdale had indroduced the lonsdale belt for boxing.
he once showed to me a wooden shield, it was about eight or ten inches in length and covered with different samples of paint.
he explained that the aprentices in the past would make the shields, then take them to the paint shop for a lick of paint.
over a period of time, a spectrum of colours would accumalate,
then they would be sanded down so that a marbling effect would develop.
anyway, mr. c. randal pointed out to me the lonsdale yellow that was a part of his shield.
i seem to remember that the lonsdale yellow was not a primary yellow, but had a tint on orange in it.
my first job in the trimming shop was to take stock of the upholstry materials
for the annual stock taking.
i was shown the old coach trimming books that were in the french language.
the materials were original, and dated back to when the premises made coaches.
if you require part 3 let me know. thankyou.
02-02-2009, 2:56 PM
David et al
I sent a copy of your memories to my brother-in-law Keith Essam who also worked at Hamshaws in the 1950s/60s. Here is the text of his reply which he is happy for me to publish
"Hi Tony, Many of the people refered to I remember well. Len Weaver
was the 'greaser' and did in fact live in Syston St. and generally
walked to Humberstone Gate to work, only getting a lift from a couple
of guys who lived in Thurmaston and Syston, didnt go away on
Holiday(tight git) and was as stated a lover of Abbey Park. Cliff
Randal the coach trimmer also lived in Syston. Harry Grommit, was the
company 'driver' collecting and delivering cars, chassis from
coventry(yes in all weathers) spare parts and and was the proud
driver of Hamshaws Austin Gypsy recovery vehicle, not many people
were allowed to use this,I think I only ever went out with on 2
trips,in 5 years that they had it whilst I was there before moving to
Leicester City Transport.Another guy that I worked with was called
Bob Pendleton,lived in Queniborough,who right up to retirement rode
and Ariel m/c with a box for a sidecar to and from work,he never
cleaned any of it only changed Oil and Plugs when necessary. Ive seen
him arrive for work looking like a snowman, if he took his wife out
she would sit on a folded mattress with several cushions for a seat
and a blanket over,often sharing the box with rabbits, chickens and
even Bobs Jack Russells. Memories Memories,
Hope that you find this of interest.
Hi there thanks for the last message, i believe that |I must have worked at Hamshaws at the same time as Tony Vines.
I remember the name Bob Pendleton, but can not remember who he was.
The Foreman s name who was in charge of the Mechanical Dept. was Norman, but can not be sure.
Mr. Clifford Randal did live at Syston, and he travelled to Leicester on the train.
At that time, it was possible to use the Railways locally.
There was a train station at the Belgrave Road where Sainsburys now stands.
You could take a train from Belgrave Road to the Humberstone Station situated opposite Saint Barnabas Road.
Or a train from Humberstone Road to London Road Station.
The Central Railway line to Birstal etc..
Clifford Randal was full of stories, one was about the Gypsies who would visit Holwell Mouth to collect the Spring water, as it was tinted with iron.
The Gypsies would use the water for their Herbal Remedies.
The other story was that the firm, H.A.Hamshaw had an association with Count Tolstoy of Russia, and that he had been married to a daughter of the owner.
Whether or not this is true, I am unable to verify, however, Clifford told me that there is a grave in Rearsby churchyard that has a Coach Wheel as a memorial, and that the grave contains the remains of ,I not sure whether he said Mr. H,A.Hamshaw or Count Tolstoy himself.
One of these days I may check this out.
He also said that was why one of the Pubs at Rearsby is called The Rearsby Wheel.
Some other information reference Rearsby is the origin of the Rearsby Loaf, but i shall not go into this unless you want me to as it does not concern the subject of H.A.Hamshaw.
I used to see some beautiful cars that were brought to the trimming shop.
One was an Austin Princess, which was used by the Directors of W.A.Wadkins, Woodwork Machinery Company of Leicester.
Another car that had a permanent place in the Trimming Shop was a Maroon Riley Pathfinder, and i regarded this car as one of the best for its looks and Finish.
The Riley Pathfinder was owned by Mr. Billy Butlin, and kept there permanently for his use whenever he came to Leicester.
It was never driven at any other time.
On the rare occasions when Mr. Billy Butlin did call at Leicester, Mr. Clifford Randal would have to accompany him whilst he drove it.
On the return of the car to the Trimming Shop, Clifford Randal would place some cigarettes on the Sewing Machine table.
The cigarettes had been given to him by Mr. Billy Butlin.
Clifford would pass them on to the other workers as he did not smoke.
Another car that I recall was a Riley Two Point Six.
It was impressive, and I believe belonged to the widow of a Lawyer.
The owner was always having it modified, it was full of mirrors, wing mirrors, driving mirrors and vanity mirrors.
Hope that you have found this of interest.
I am unable to provide further information as early the following year, I was put into the Baking Trade.
In those days your Parents decided what job you did and also took the trouble to find you one.
If you did not work they would think that there was something mentally wrong with you.
sorry but i forgot to mention Jock, who used to move the cars that were on the ground floor in the main, forward part,of the building, he was a very pleasent man and always polite and well behaved.
03-02-2009, 5:19 PM
As I said in my post above, it was my brother-in-law Keith Essam who worked there, not me. He was a mechanic.
thanks for the information. Keith Essam, not Tony Vines.
06-05-2010, 7:53 PM
Hi if you still there
I worked for hamshaws 1965-1980
i managed to find a 50th anniversary book if that helps
06-05-2010, 11:43 PM
Still here! As you will have read it was not me but my brother-in-law who worked at Hamshaws. Not sure whether he was still there in 1965 though. However I have forwarded your link to him (he is away at the moment) and he may comment. An interesting book to anyone who knew Hamshaws!
07-05-2010, 7:32 AM
Very interesting read, Roy, many thanks for sharing.
10-05-2010, 9:18 PM
My name is Roy Berrington
My first job when I left Roundhill School in August 1965 was at H A Hamshaws Parker Drive, I didn't really know about Humberstone Gate, I was in the Parts department, My manager was George Cross, it's a long time now but some of the folks I repember are:
George Conlin, a Driver, he was a characture, his hair was well greased and hated anyone to touch it, two things stuck in me mind with him, once, he had to collect something from London, he was gone two days, and returned saying he had sleped in the Morris 1000 van, couldn't find the place he had to go, and once he went to deliver a commercial gearbox, he had not tied it down and it had fell out the back of the van, because it was so heave and couldn't lift it back in, he stopped a bus going to Parker drive and rolled it on to the low step and the bus stopped out side to rollit off again.
Derrick Macullock (Mac), Sid Scothern, Colin Brown
Tom Low, Roger Sowerbutts, Terry Bodicote, Terry Heighton, William (Bill) Rouse,
Allen Hacket, he wrote a bit in the leicester mercury.
11-05-2010, 6:47 AM
1965 is well after the period my grandfather worked there as he left for Wales in 1935, however, the stories you relate are very interesting and I am sure those researching the Company will know some of the personnel you mention.
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