Just like today’s car industry, Abingdon, as an assembly plant, would have been totally reliant upon its suppliers. Many of those who today are referred to as tier one can be easily identified, such as Lucas for everything electrical, Dunlop for tyres and Triplex for glass. Less visible are the tier two suppliers feeding, for example, castings, forgings and pressings into the next stage of the process; but one which can be identified is Smethwick Drop Forgings because they clearly identified their work with their initials within an oval.
Floated in 1936, following liquidation of the Bean Car Company, of which they formed a part, they employed 1000 workers during the war under the Ministry of Supply. At the end of war work they quickly transitioned to small component automotive work, specialising in connecting rods.
So far, I have identified the steering box drop arm and the hub steering arms.
Their distinctive logo is always followed by a number which identifies the pair of dies used, presumably for traceability. Mine are both 1; a second pair 2 would only have been made to increase production, unlikely, or when the first ones were worn out. Returning to connecting rods, there is no indication that they forged the ones in my early TC engine, but did the ones I have taken from a Wolseley 4/44.
They were absorbed into GKN in 1963, transferred to United Engineering Steels in 1986 and continued to forge components until four years ago when sadly they joined an ever-growing list of traditional Black Country firms that closed their doors.
Ed’s note: Thanks to Bob Lyell for an informative little article.
For the benefit of our overseas readers, ‘The Black Country’ is an area, west of Birmingham, England, which rose to prominence during the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Its factories emitted vast amounts of pollution, hence the name ‘The Black Country’.