Sir John Black (Obituary)

Black, Sir John Paul (1895–1965), motor vehicle manufacturer, was born on 10 February 1895 at Kingston upon Thames. Black was educated locally and studied law, which brought out an aptitude for clear-cut decisions that was further developed in the First World War, during which he attained the rank of captain. In 1919 Black was recruited by the Hillman motor car marque in Coventry. He soon became joint managing director, with Spencer Wilks. Their success led to Hillman’s being taken over by Rootes Ltd, a move which prompted both to resign in 1929.

Black joined the Standard Motor Company the same year, at the invitation of its founder, Reginald Maudslay. The marque was in dire financial straits and Black, who became general manager in 1930, set about restoring the company’s fortunes. He ended the costly in-house manufacture of components and started to introduce mass production techniques. Black also brought in Edward Grinham from Humber as chief engineer; he was able to interpret Black’s ideas for stylish and competitively priced models, especially in the Flying Standard series. By 1939 total car production had reached 50,000 units a year, making Standard Coventry’s largest motor car manufacturer and earning the marque a place in the ‘Big Six’ league of leading British-based producers. Although Black did not officially become managing director until Maudslay’s death in December 1934, he was effectively in command from the start.
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A Visit Back To Standard Triumph, Canley

A Visit Back To Standard Triumph, Canley. 

It has always been on the ‘bucket list’ to visit Coventry and, in particular, the site where the Standard Triumph factory once stood. The site is now a retail park with a large Sainsburys, fast food outlets and offices however, amongst the newer builds one original feature still remains – the Standard Triumph Recreation Club – and it was this we wanted to see.
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I Remember Cash’s Lane

In the ’20s, I remember the Standard Motor Company being situated in Cash’s Lane, bordered by the canal, O’Brien cycle factory, Foleshill Road, and Cash’s Lane, where Kwikfit tyre fitters is now.

I was born and lived in Arthur Street which at that time was a cul-de- sac. Test drivers from the Standard used to drive a chassis with only an engine, windscreen, and seat, out on the roads, and several of them used to come to Arthur Street to make adjustments, to brakes, etc.

I remember the smell of the new exhaust pipes, and when we inquisitive kids asked what they were doing, they used to explain to us instead of telling us to clear off.

They also told us to buy Standards when we were old enough because we knew they would be good, having seen how good they were before the bodies were put on. This ended when the Standard moved to Canley.

After I left School, I worked for a small engineering firm which made components for the bigger car firms, and I machined brake shackles, and also made brake abutments for Standard.

Years later I drove Standard 12s, Standard Roadsters and Vanguards, they were indeed, like the test-driver had said, good cars.

I hasten to point out that they were not my cars, I drove them in the course of my job.

William H Underwood, Shilton, near Coventry.

Kinnond, Brenda and Jack

My husband worked at the Standard for 36 years. He started when he was 14 at Banner Lane and was tranferred to Canley after one year. He worked as an engine fitter for another two years and then he went into the navy.

He really enjoyed his time there and when he was demobbed he had more or less decided to go back into the navy and sign on for longer.

Before really deciding he went into the Standard to see his friends and the foreman said to him “we have a job here for you Jack whenever you want to start”, so he went back and worked for 36 years altogether.

He saw many changes there working on Vanguard, Spitfire, Herald and many different types of engines.

I started there in 1952 packing parts for cars to be made in Australia, New Zealand, India. Then I moved to the trim shop and was there for 18 years altogether.

Our first (new) car was a Triumph Herald 12/50 in which I learned to drive. We were both made redundant in 1980 when the Standard closed.

Unfortunately Jack passed away in 2002 but he would have enjoyed reading your article as I did. I am sure he would have written to you but he would have done it better as he always seemed to have a story to tell about the Standard or the navy.

Brenda Kinnond, Coundon.

Alan Savage

I left Broadway School in 1937 at the age of 14. I got a job straight away at Standard’s service/spares division opposite the cinema in Fletchamstead.

In the repairs department I was to collect and file on tallies all the piecework, with the respective details of work done and wage claim in cash. From these the respective repair jobs were costed up. On occasions it required chasing up jobs as customers waited for their bills.

We had two trips to London service departments per year – travelling by company bus (Social Dept). The London crew visited us in return and we played cricket and football matches together – they were free and wonderful days out.

We were given the chance of a tour of London by the Londoners.

Captain Black – as he was then known (later elevated to Sir John Black) was the big boss of the company. He was a stickler for discipline but a very fair man. I graduated to costing and sometimes estimating and invoicing.

Called into the army in 1942, I served until 1947. Returning to the Standard I went back to my old job but some time later to spares – or scheduling parts.

 We became Standard Triumph and I well remember travelling by bus to Banner Lane to view the new Herald car.

However, in about 1976 the whole situation had changed. The motor trade was going downhill, production at Canley had stopped and the company requested volunteers for redundancy. I volunteered and departed.

By then I had been with the company for 39 years which included my five years in the army – agreed by the company as counting towards retirement benefits.

Standard also had a fine boxing team and I enjoyed many displays at Canley and Banner Lane. I enjoyed my time at Standard.

Alan Savage,  Southam.

Canley Works

THE STANDARD Canley works came to be built when the founder of the company, Reginald Maudslay, felt he needed to break away from restricted sites at Bishopsgate Green and Much Park Street.

A series of A-framed sheds were constructed in 1915, the three earliest being fronted by a substantial red brick office building, the Ivy Cottage. In these workshops large numbers of First World War fighter planes were produced before the Armistice.

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