Halley Motors Ltd

halley lorry ww1

Halley Industrial Motors Ltd of Yoker, Glasgow began making steam lorries in 1901 before changing to petrol lorries in 1906.

By 1914 several models were available from 1 to 6 tons and up to 40 seat passenger chassis.

They began supplying lorries to the War Office at the outbreak of the First World War.

By the middle of 1916, the cost of each lorry was 725 [63,540 in 2019]. Maximum capacity at the Yoker factory was 10 lorries per week. Availability of raw materials and skilled labour meant only 2.5 lorries per week were built and by May 1916 only 250 lorries had been supplied.

Completed lorries were driven to London (Kempton Park Vehicle Reception Park). The drivers stopped at Manchester where they caught a train back to Glasgow and Manchester based drivers continued to London and caught a train back to Manchester.

In May 1916, the Ministry of Munitions decided that the company would be of greater value producing munitions than lorries.

A contract was duly signed to produce 60-pdr shells.

The contract was for 110,000 shells to be delivered by 31 December 1916 at the rate of 4,000 per week delivered to the nearest railway station. The cost of each shell was 1.01.06d [93.40 in 2020]. The contract for all 110,000 shells was thus worth 2,365,000 [205,133,218].

Now consider the cost of the estimated 1,730,000 shells used during the first week of the Battle of the Somme, and the 4,250,000 used during the first 10 days of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passendaele).halley lorry

It is an indication of where priorities were that to achieve that to produce that number of shells, the Ministry of Munitions spent 85,000 [7,371,933] building Halley another factory on the adjacent land. Investment in munitions was guaranteed but had never been available to increase lorry production.

The Ministry of Munitions contracts allowed for price rises in the event of wage increases determined by the ‘Fair Wages Clause’ and included a clause regarding the use of unskilled labour

“It is a condition of this contract that any directions of the Ministry of Munitions as to the percentage of women operatives to be employed, or as to the number of skilled or semi-skilled male operatives to be employed shall be complied with.”

This was to prevent unscrupulous employers from profiteering by using unskilled labour and to try to keep the Trade Unions on side and minimise the risk of strike action over the use of unskilled or women labour.

Production of 60-pdr shells continued until 31 January 1919 following the cancellation of the automatically renewing contracts on 18 November 1918 when the cost of each shell had risen to 2.06.00 [132.75].

At termination of the contract, Halley Motors, along with all other contractors whose premises had been extended at War Office expense, were able to purchase the new factory, supposedly at cost price, but in reality at a very reduced price as there were no other buyers.

After the war, Halley resumed commercial vehicle production, concentrating on just one model. Based on the 3-ton chassis, it tried to compete unsuccessfully with the thousands of War Surplus Subsidy lorries that were being sold at ridiculously low prices.

Costing 900 [52,299] against 120 [6,973] for a ‘good runner’ from Slough Dump Disposal Sales, new sales were always going to be difficult and in 1922 the company began producing forward control and half-cab versions, aimed at the Municipal market.

halley lorriesIn 1926 the company needed re-financing and structuring to remain viable and in 1931 it needed rescuing again and was saved by the

North British Locomotive Company.

By 1934, the model range had expanded to encompass 4 to 13-ton chassis, but this was not enough to save the company, which entered liquidation in 1935.

It was bought by Albion Motors Ltd who retained the buildings for their own expansion and sold the goodwill and spare parts of the company and no further lorries were built under the Halley name.

The final Halley built was a fire engine for Clydebank Fire Brigade.