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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Standard Triumph Monument

At 12 noon on 16 April 2000, a monument to Standard Triumph was unveiled on Herald Avenue, on the site of the old Canley factory in the outskirts of Coventry, just behind the Standard Triumph Recreation Club – the last remaining original building of the factory complex. The unveiling was performed jointly by the Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of the City of Coventry, Cllr Mrs Joan Wright, and Harry Webster CBE. Cllr Wright was herself a past employee at Canley and Harry Webster was their chief engineer from 1954 to 1968. 

Honorary president, Graham Robson (who ran Standard Triumph’s motorsport department from 1962-1965), was master of ceremonies on the day and TR Register chairman, Ian Evans, gave a vote of thanks to all the contributors. Dave Lewis and Chris Cunnington, who between them made the whole project possible, were presented with an inscribed piece of lead crystal as a sincere thank-you from the TR Register.

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