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Lucas Industries plc

Lucas Industries plc

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Lucas Industries plc was a famous British manufacturer of components for the motor industry and aerospace
Aerospace
Aerospace comprises the atmosphere of Earth and surrounding space. Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space...

 industry. It was based in Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in the City of London within the United Kingdom. , the Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$3.7495 trillion, making it the fourth-largest stock exchange in the world by this measurement...

 and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index
FTSE 100 Index
The FTSE 100 Index, also called FTSE 100, FTSE, or, informally, the footsie , is a share index of the 100 most highly capitalised UK companies listed on the London Stock Exchange....

. In August 1996, Lucas merged with the American Varity Corporation to form LucasVarity plc.

The Lucas trademark is currently owned by TRW Automotive
TRW Automotive
TRW Automotive , headquartered in Livonia, Michigan, USA, is a major global supplier of automotive systems, modules and components to automotive original equipment manufacturers and related aftermarkets....

 and is licensed to Elta Lighting for aftermarket auto parts in the United Kingdom.

Foundation


In 1850s the jobless father of six, (Joseph) sold paraffin oil from a barrow cart around the streets of Hockley, The company was then founded by Joseph Lucas
Joseph Lucas
Joseph Lucas was a lamp manufacturer and the founder of Lucas Industries.-Career:Born in Carver Street, Hockley, Birmingham, in Birmingham's famous Jewellery Quarter and educated at a local Church Sunday School, Joseph Lucas was apprenticed to H. & G.R...

 in 1860 with his son Harry, joining his father around 1872, aged 17. Initially called Joseph Lucas & Son from 1882 it was based in Little King Street, later Great King Street Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

. At first it made general pressed metal merchandise including plant pot holders, scoops and buckets and later in 1875 lamps
Lantern
A lantern is a portable lighting device or mounted light fixture used to illuminate broad areas. Lanterns may also be used for signaling, as 'torches', or as general light sources outdoors . Low light level varieties are used for decoration. The term "lantern" is also used more generically to...

 for ships, later moving into oil and acetylene
Acetylene
Acetylene is the chemical compound with the formula C2H2. It is a hydrocarbon and the simplest alkyne. This colorless gas is widely used as a fuel and a chemical building block. It is unstable in pure form and thus is usually handled as a solution.As an alkyne, acetylene is unsaturated because...

 lamps for bicycle
Bicycle
A bicycle, also known as a bike, pushbike or cycle, is a human-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist, or bicyclist....

s from 1879.

In 1902, what by then had become Joseph Lucas Ltd, incorporated in 1898, started making automotive electrical components such as magnetos
Magneto (electrical)
A magneto is an electrical generator that uses permanent magnets to produce alternating current.Magnetos adapted to produce pulses of high voltage are used in the ignition systems of some gasoline-powered internal combustion engines to provide power to the spark plugs...

, alternators, windscreen wipers, horns, lighting, wiring and starter motors. The company started its main growth in 1914 with a contract to supply the Morris Motor Company
Morris Motor Company
The Morris Motor Company was a British car manufacturing company. After the incorporation of the company into larger corporations, the Morris name remained in use as a marque until 1984 when British Leyland's Austin Rover Group decided to concentrate on the more popular Austin marque...

 with electrical equipment. During the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 Lucas made shells
Shell (projectile)
A shell is a payload-carrying projectile, which, as opposed to shot, contains an explosive or other filling, though modern usage sometimes includes large solid projectiles properly termed shot . Solid shot may contain a pyrotechnic compound if a tracer or spotting charge is used...

 and fuses, as well as electrical equipment for military vehicles.


Expansion


After the First World War the firm expanded rapidly, branching out into products such as braking systems and diesel systems for the automotive industry and hydraulic actuators and electronic engine control systems for the aerospace industry. In 1926 they gained an exclusive contract with Austin
Austin Motor Company
The Austin Motor Company was a British manufacturer of automobiles. The company was founded in 1905 and merged in 1952 into the British Motor Corporation Ltd. The marque Austin was used until 1987...

. Around 1930, Lucas and Smiths established a trading agreement to avoid competition in each other's markets. During the 1920s and 1930s Lucas grew rapidly by taking over a number of their competitors such as Rotax and C.A.Vandervell (CAV). During WW2 Lucas were engaged by Rover to work on the combustion and fuel systems for the Whittle
Frank Whittle
Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, Hon FRAeS was a British Royal Air Force engineer officer. He is credited with independently inventing the turbojet engine Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, Hon FRAeS (1 June 1907 – 9 August 1996) was a British Royal Air...

 jet engine project
Power Jets W.1
|-See also:-Bibliography:*Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9*Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London. Studio Editions Ltd, 1998...

 making the burners. This came about due to their experience of sheet metal manufacture and CAV for the pumps and injectors.
In the 1950s (exact dates needed) they started a semiconductor manufacturing plant to make rectifiers and transistors.

Lucas Plan


In 1976, the militant workforce within Lucas Aerospace were facing significant layoffs. Under the leadership of Mike Cooley
Mike Cooley
Mike Cooley is an Irish-born engineer and former trade union leader, best known for his involvement in workplace activism at the British company Lucas Aerospace in the late 1970s. In 1981, he was a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award. Cooley was born in Tuam, Ireland, and studied engineering...

, they developed the Lucas Plan to convert the company from arms to the manufacture of socially useful products, and save jobs. The plan was not put into place but it is claimed that the associated industrial action
Industrial action
Industrial action or job action refers collectively to any measure taken by trade unions or other organised labour meant to reduce productivity in a workplace. Quite often it is used and interpreted as a euphemism for strike, but the scope is much wider...

 saved some jobs.

LucasVarity


In August 1996, Lucas Industries plc merged with the North American Varity
Varity
Varity was a former farm equipment company, created in 1986 from the remains of Massey-Ferguson Limited of Toronto, Ontario. Varity also owned Perkins Engines headquartered in Peterborough England and Kelsey-Hayes Group of Companies headquartered in Romulus, Michigan...

 Corporation to form LucasVarity
LucasVarity
LucasVarity plc was a UK automotive parts manufacturer, created by a merger of the British Lucas Industries plc, and the North American Varity Corporation in August 1996.-Foundation:...

 plc. Its specific history is covered on the LucasVarity page but for the sake of continuity key aspects of the old Lucas business histories to date, particularly that referring to CAV and Lucas Diesel Systems are still included here.

CAV


CAV Ltd was headquartered in Acton
Acton, London
Acton is a district of west London, England, located in the London Borough of Ealing. It is situated west of Charing Cross.At the time of the 2001 census, Acton, comprising the wards of East Acton, Acton Central, South Acton and Southfield, had a population of 53,689 people...

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 making diesel fuel injection equipment for diesel engine manufacturers worldwide and electrical equipment for commercial and military vehicles.

The company was formed by Charles Anthony Vandervell (1870–1955), making accumulators
Rechargeable battery
A rechargeable battery or storage battery is a group of one or more electrochemical cells. They are known as secondary cells because their electrochemical reactions are electrically reversible. Rechargeable batteries come in many different shapes and sizes, ranging anything from a button cell to...

, electric carriage lamps, and switchboards in Willesden
Willesden
Willesden is an area in North West London which forms part of the London Borough of Brent. It is situated 5 miles north west of Charing Cross...

.

In 1904 the firm, moved to Warple Way, Acton
Acton, London
Acton is a district of west London, England, located in the London Borough of Ealing. It is situated west of Charing Cross.At the time of the 2001 census, Acton, comprising the wards of East Acton, Acton Central, South Acton and Southfield, had a population of 53,689 people...

. The firm pioneered the dynamo-charged battery principle and in 1911 it produced the world's first lighting system used on a double-decker bus
Double-decker bus
A double-decker bus is a bus that has two storeys or 'decks'. Global usage of this type of bus is more common in outer touring than in its intra-urban transportion role. Double-decker buses are also commonly found in certain parts of Europe, Asia, and former British colonies and protectorates...

. By 1918 1,000 employees were making vehicle electrics and aircraft magnetos. Wireless
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 components were also made from 1923.

In 1926 CAV was bought by Lucas. In 1931, CAV in partnership with Robert Bosch Ltd.
Robert Bosch
Robert Bosch was a German industrialist, engineer and inventor, founder of Robert Bosch GmbH.-Biography:...

, became CAV-Bosch Ltd and began making fuel injection pumps for the diesel industry and later fuel systems for aircraft. Lucas bought Bosch's interest out in 1937 and it became CAV Ltd in 1939. In 1978 the company's name became Lucas CAV. In 1980 the Acton factory employed around 3,000 people making heavy duty electric equipment for commercial vehicles, by this time high volume diesel fuel injection manufacturing had been relocated to larger modern factories in Kent, Suffolk, Gloucestershire and many countries throughout the world. Acton continued to make low volume specialist pumps for the military and for Gardner engines.

The electrical business was sold to US company Prestolite Electric
Prestolite Electric
Prestolite Electric Incorporated is a global manufacturer and supplier of alternators, starters, electrical equipment, and services to the transportation, industrial, military, marine, agricultural and construction industries...

 in 1998 and remained at Acton until relocating to nearby Greenford in 2005.

The diesel fuel injection equipment research, engineering and manufacturing business known in later years as Lucas Diesel Systems Ltd continues at all of the world wide sites (with the exception of those in Japan and South Carolina, USA which had closed by this time) and since 2000 has been owned by Delphi Inc
Delphi (auto parts)
Delphi Automotive PLC is an automotive parts company headquartered in Troy, Michigan, USA. Delphi is one of the world's largest automotive parts manufacturers and has approximately 146,600 employees ....

, a USA based automotive parts and systems manufacturer. The name has been changed to Delphi and the business is a major part of the Delphi Powertrain Division.

World wide dieselfuel injection business sites: England - Gillingham, Kent; Park Royal, London; Sudbury, Suffolk; Stonehouse, Gloucestershire. France - Blois and La Rochelle. Brazil - São Paulo. Mexico - Saltillo. Spain - Sant Cugat, Barcelona. Turkey - Ismir. India - Mannure, Chennai. Korea - Changwon, Busan.

Girling


The company started as a car brake manufacturer after, in 1925, Albert H. Girling (also co-founder of Franks-Girling Universal Postage) patented a wedge actuated braking system. In 1929 he sold the patent rights to the New Hudson
New Hudson (company)
New Hudson was a British engineering and motorcycle manufacturing company from Birmingham.They built motorcycles and pedal cycles from 1903 until the early 1930s, when the company changed to the manufacture of Girling brakes. The Girling interests were sold to Lucas in 1943 and the company went...

 company. Girling later developed disc brake
Disc brake
The disc brake or disk brake is a device for slowing or stopping the rotation of a wheel while it is in motion.A brake disc is usually made of cast iron, but may in some cases be made of composites such as reinforced carbon–carbon or ceramic matrix composites. This is connected to the wheel and/or...

s, which were very successful on racing cars from the early 1950s to the 1970s. Girling brakes had the quirk of using natural rubber (later nitrile
Nitrile
A nitrile is any organic compound that has a -C≡N functional group. The prefix cyano- is used interchangeably with the term nitrile in industrial literature. Nitriles are found in many useful compounds, one example being super glue .Inorganic compounds containing the -C≡N group are not called...

) seals, which caused difficulties for some American owners of British cars because of incompatibility with U.S. brake fluids.

Girling brake manufacture was taken over by Lucas in 1938, but the patent remained held by New Hudson until this in turn was purchased by Lucas in 1943. Lucas then moved their Bendix
Bendix
- People :* Bendix Hallenstein - New Zealand businessman* Henry Bendix - fictional character from Wildstorm comics* John E. Bendix - American Civil War and New York Guard general* Max Bendix - American composer, conductor, violinist* Reinhard Bendix - sociologist...

 brake and Luvax shock absorber interests into a new division which became Girling Ltd. Girling products included:
  • Brake
    Brake
    A brake is a mechanical device which inhibits motion. Its opposite component is a clutch. The rest of this article is dedicated to various types of vehicular brakes....

     systems.
  • Clutch
    Clutch
    A clutch is a mechanical device which provides for the transmission of power from one component to another...

     systems
  • Shock absorber
    Shock absorber
    A shock absorber is a mechanical device designed to smooth out or damp shock impulse, and dissipate kinetic energy. It is a type of dashpot.-Nomenclature:...

    s

Rotax


(Lucas Rotax has no connection with Rotax
Rotax
BRP-Powertrain GmbH & Co KG , commonly known simply as Rotax, is an Austrian engine manufacturer. It develops and produces four-stroke and advanced two-stroke engines for Bombardier Recreational Products products as well as for motorcycles, karts,...

 the Austrian engine maker)


Rotax went through several name changes and manufacturing locations, the last of these being the former premises of the Edison Phonograph Company in Willesden
Willesden
Willesden is an area in North West London which forms part of the London Borough of Brent. It is situated 5 miles north west of Charing Cross...

, west London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1913. Initially a motor cycle accessory business, Rotax began to specialise in aircraft components after the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. After an initial proposal for Lucas and Rotax to jointly take over CAV, Lucas decided in 1926 to take over both companies.

In 1956 Lucas Rotax opened a new plant in the new town of Hemel Hempstead
Hemel Hempstead
Hemel Hempstead is a town in Hertfordshire in the East of England, to the north west of London and part of the Greater London Urban Area. The population at the 2001 Census was 81,143 ....

 to the north of London. Lucas Rotax was later renamed Lucas Aerospace. By the 1970s the company had 15 plants at various locations.

Aerospace


Based in the Park Royal Industrial Estate, London next to a Soy Sauce factory and opposite Lucas Rotax, this facility provided components for BAE systems, principally for the Stingray Torpedo Project. A strike in the 1980s in the "Drive for 35" caused by the AEU and supported by Ken Livingstone, combined with a recession in the Far East, led to the closure of the site.

Simms


In 1913 Frederick Richard Simms
Frederick Richard Simms
Frederick Richard Simms was a British mechanical engineer, businessman, prolific inventor and motor industry pioneer. Simms coined the words "petrol" and "motorcar"...

 started Simms Motor Units Ltd, which in the First World War became the principal supplier of magnetos to the armed forces. In 1920 the company took over a former piano factory in East Finchley
East Finchley
East Finchley is a suburb in the London Borough of Barnet, in north London, and situated north-west of Charing Cross. Geographically it is somewhat separate from the rest of Finchley, with North Finchley and West Finchley to the north, and Finchley Central to the west.- History :The land on which...

, north London
North London
North London is the northern part of London, England. It is an imprecise description and the area it covers is defined differently for a range of purposes. Common to these definitions is that it includes districts located north of the River Thames and is used in comparison with South...

. During the 1930s the factory developed a range of Diesel fuel injectors. In the Second World War the company again became the principal supplier of magnetos for aircraft and tanks, also supplying dynamo
Dynamo
- Engineering :* Dynamo, a magnetic device originally used as an electric generator* Dynamo theory, a theory relating to magnetic fields of celestial bodies* Solar dynamo, the physical process that generates the Sun's magnetic field- Software :...

s, starter motors
Automobile self starter
A starter motor is an electric motor for rotating an internal-combustion engine so as to initiate the engine's operation under its own power.- History :...

, lights, pumps, nozzles, spark plug
Spark plug
A spark plug is an electrical device that fits into the cylinder head of some internal combustion engines and ignites compressed fuels such as aerosol, gasoline, ethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas by means of an electric spark.Spark plugs have an insulated central electrode which is connected by...

s and coils.

The East Finchley factory continued to expand after the war, eventually reaching 300000 square feet (27,870.9 m²), and the company took over many other firms. Simms Motor Units was itself taken over by Lucas in 1968 and integrated within the CAV division. Manufacturing in East Finchley was steadily run down and the factory closed in 1991 to be redeveloped for housing. It is commemorated by Simms Gardens and Lucas Gardens.

Cross-licensing agreements


In the 1920s Lucas signed a number of cross licensing agreements with Bosch, Delco and most of the other automotive electrical equipment manufacturers in Europe and North America. In addition, these agreements included a non-competitive clause agreeing that Lucas would not sell any electrical equipment in their countries and they would not sell electrical equipment in Great Britain. By the mid 1930s Lucas had a virtual monopoly of automotive electrical equipment in Great Britain.

With a monopoly in place, Lucas proceeded to supply electrical equipment that was commonly cited as the best reason not to buy a British car.

King of the Road



Harry Lucas designed a hub lamp for use in a high bicycle in 1879 and named the oil lamp "King of the Road". This name would come to be associated with the manufactured products of Lucas Companies, into the present day. However, Lucas did not use the "King of the Road" epithet for every lamp manufactured. They only used this name on their most prestigious and usually highest priced lamps and goods. This naming format would last until the 1920s when the "King of the Road" wording was pressed into the outer edge of the small "lion and torch" button motifs that frequently decorated the tops of both bicycle and motor-car lamps. The public were encouraged by Lucas to refer to every Lucas lamp as a "King of the Road", but strictly speaking, this is quite wrong, as most lamps throughout the 20th century possessed either a name, a number, or both.

Joseph Lucas, the founder of Lucas Industries was humorously known as the Prince of Darkness in North America, because of the electrical problems common in Lucas-equipped cars, especially British Leyland products. Whether the fault lay with Lucas or British Leyland cost-cutting is disputed. As Joseph Lucas died in 1902 and British Leyland was only formed in 1968, some 66 years later, this title is undeserved. This perception could also be connected with early supply problems of "King of the Road" lighting products within the North American Markets during the early 1900s or this could also be attributed to the reputation that the company used small gauge wiring in vehicles which tended to wear out or corrode quickly. Interestingly, Joseph and Harry Lucas formed a joint stock corporation with the New Departure Bell Co., of America in 1896, so that Lucas designed bicycle lamps could be manufactured in America to avoid import duties.

Further reading



External links