Alldays and Onions
Alldays and Onions, of Great Western and Matchless Works, Small Heath, Birmingham, was a manufacturer of motor lorries, cars and vans, cycles and motorcycles, complete outfits for foundries and workshops, hammers, fans, hearthes, forges, cranes, pulley blocks, etc.
The Alldays & Onions Pneumatic Engineering Co. of Birmingham, was a company founded in 1889 by the merger of the long established Onions (formed by John Onions in 1650) and William Allday & Co. (formed by William Allday in 1720) engineering companies. They became known for their engineering and blacksmithing equipment. Like many such companies at the time they turned to bicycle manufacture and sold a range under the Alldays name. They also started making motorcycles in 1903 under the Alldays-Matchless name; these had no connection with the London-based Matchless company, and in 1915 presumably following representations from them, the name was changed to Allon. Manufacture of these continued until 1927.
Edmund Allday had taken out patents concerned with the design of velocipedes as early as 1889, and in 1896 the company established a new cycle factory, at Matchless Works. As the company was already well-known for quality products, orders for cycles followed as soon as the company was ready. Adverts had been placed even before their cycle factory had been built. In December 1896, the company reported that cycles made from their patented corrugated steel tubing had proved so popular that they had been unable to supply the demand. At the Stanley Show that year one cycle from the huge order received from the British South Africa Company was shown resplendent in its red enamelled finish and complete with attachments to carry a rifle and a sword.
The War Office gave Alldays their first large government contract in 1898 which was rapidly followed by four more contracts and in February 1901 by the largest contract to be awarded to the company so far, for 800 cycles. One of the exhibits at the 1902 Stanley Show was a military cycle used by a Lieutenant Carus-Wilson during the Boer War. Records indicate he served with the 1st Battalion, the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and the ‘Composite Cyclist Corps’ and and sailed for South Africa in July 1902. He also served in WW1, but did not return from that war.
In 1898, the company produced its first car, the Traveller, a quadricycle made in private and commercial forms, steered by a wheel. It had an unsprung rear end, power generated by a 4 hp De Dion single-cylinder motor. However, series production did not start until 1903/4 with the 7 hp model. Larger commercial vehicles of up to 5 tons were also made in the years preceding the first World War and saw service during the conflict.
The Enfield Cycle Co. did nearly the same, Tricycles and Quadricycles with a De Dion Bouton engine.
By 1904 Enfield were building motor cars at their Hunt End factory in Redditch: initially a range of two models was marketed, both built on orthodox lines. The 6 hp two-seater had a De Dion single-cylinder engine and was, claimed the makers, specially constructed for heavy work and hilly districts; its specification included a three-speed gearbox and 'three brakes'. Prices started from £175.
The 10hp, which cost £300 (£325 with leather upholstery and 'Modele Riche' finish), was a twin-cylinder four-seater with a honeycomb radiator augmented by a water tank on the dashboard. Both cars had tubular chassis, that of the larger car being braced to stop the machine from folding in the middle.
Around 1905 The Enfield Cycle Co. choose to make their own cars, in stead of motorcycles following the successfull Quadricycle and the less successfull motorcycles.
While there was to much work on the motor cars there was less attention for the manufacturing of cycles and motorcycles, therefor in 1906 The Enfield Autocar Co was registered on 1 March to take over that portion of the Enfield Cycle Co, relating to the manufacture of motor cars.
The board consisted of:
|Albert Eadie, Chairman||Managing Director of the Eadie Manufacturing Company, Limited, and Director of the Enfield Cycle Company, Limited.|
|Lord Ernest Seymour||Chairman Directors of the Enfield Cycle Company, Limited, and Director the Metropolitan Bank (of England and Wales), Limited|
|George H. Cartland||Barrister-at-Law, Director of the Enfield Cycle Company, Limited, Chairman Directors of the Eadie Manufacturing Company, Limited|
|Thomas Evans||Chairman of Directors Ecco Works, Limited, Director of the Enfield Cycle Company, Limited|
|Robert W. Smith||Works Director of the Radio Manufacturing Company, Limited, and the Enfield Cycle Company, Limited, and Director of Works, Limited|
|E. H. Lancaster||Consulting Engineer to the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland|
The new company produced 8, 10 and 20hp models with shaft-drive. The now indepent of the parent company car-manufacturing operation began production of a more substantial range of cars, designed by E. H. Lancaster. These were a 4.1-liter 16/20hp and a 5.9-liter 24/30hp. Both had four- cylinder engines, pressed-steel chassis and live-axle final drive, there were three powerful metal-to-metal compression brakes, and the Enfield radiator incorporated 1200 round tubes for maximum cooling.
The Alldays and Onions company hit commercial success with the 1.6-litre, vertical-twin side-valve 10/12, which was made from 1905 to 1913. It was popular with commercial drivers and did well in period formula events and hill-climbs. A 16 hp 4-cylinder joined the lineup in 1906.
In 1907 Alldays and Onions merged with the car making part of Enfield, namely Enfield Autocar Co. Initially the two car making activities were kept separate and the cars made by the Enfield Autocar Co. at a new factory at Sparkbrook, Birmingham were still sold as 'Enfield', while the cars made by Alldays and Onions at the Matchless Works, Birmingham were sold under their own brand.
Shortly afterward, the range was rationalized, with most models being sold under both brand-names. The Alldays contribution to the equation was the well-established twin- and four-cylinders that put out 14 and 20 hp, always shaft-driven. A 30/35 hp six-cylinder was listed from 1911 to 1914, compressed-air starters being optional in 1911.
By 1912 Alldays and Oions acquired the Enfield Autocar Co including manufacturing rights and trade mark; the company had also established its own works for car manufacture; manufacture of the two types of car would be kept separate; Alldays motorcycles were also built.
By 1912 Alldays and Onions, which had been engaged in the general engineering trade for a long time, had more recently established separate works for car manufacture; It had also acquired the Enfield Autocar Co including manufacturing rights and trade mark; manufacture of the two types of car would be kept separate; motorcycles were also built.
In 1913, the 990 cc V-twin Midget cyclecar was introduced, featuring air cooling and shaft drive, selling at £138.10s. An 1100 cc 4-cylinder version with a bullnose radiator appeared in 1914, popular at the price of ₤175. Pair-cast side-valve four-cylinders rated at 12/14, 16/20, and 25/30 hp filled out the immediate pre-war offerings.
Sales of the Autolette during 1913 were encouraging enough for the company to launch a 9 hp four-cylinder variant at the end of the year, priced at £158 against the twin's £138; this model became the famous Nimble Nine in 1914, by which time the company was switching over to White & Poppe proprietary engines for the larger 14.3 hp and 18A hp cars. Unusually for the period, Enfield built their own bodies, adopting a pleasingly ungainly flush-sided torpedo line for 1914; special coachwork was normally supplied by Mulliners.
In 1914 a 35hp Enfield with a 26-seat bus body was put into service by Mid Cheshire Motor Bus Co. This bus ran for 10 years.
During WWI the production was changed to munition.
Shortly after the war rationalisation was carried to its logical conclusion, with Alldays and Enfield merging as Enfield-Allday Motors Limited, based at Sparkbrook. But in place of the modestly-priced, ultra-conservative family cars' of the pre-war era, the company proposed a complete breakaway from established canons of car design. Their 1919 Bullet was largely the work of A. W. Reeves, who had designed the famous 25hp RFC model Crossley; he was aided by A. C. Bertelli, Enfield-Allday's works manager.
The Bullet drew heavily on wartime aero-engine developments, and featured a five-cylinder radial engine mounted in a triangulated chassis carried on long cantilever springs. The gearbox was mounted at the apices of the chassis side-members, and the air-cooled engine could be rotated for servicing requirements by just undoing a couple of bolts. The power unit featured curious concentric inlet and exhaust valves,' claimed to give the maximum in efficiency, though 23 bhp from a 2.5-liter engine was hardly inspiring, even in 1919, as by now the development of the motor car was well under way.
All-up weight was said to be as low as 9.75 cwt, contributing to a 40 mpg petrol consumption, but the new car was too complex for economy of production. The price was originally £350, but this kept going up, as the design was unsuitable for mass production. Total output was perhaps four cars, and a larger 15hp version with a six-cylinder sleeve-valve engine and more orthodox chassis and suspension did not seem to have passed the artist's impression stage.
Bertelli hurriedly designed a replacement, a conventional four-cylinder car with inclined side valves, remarkable only for its quality of finish - 'Never before has such skill, material and fine workmanship been put into a light car', boasted the company. But once again, the design was not suited to economical production, and only a hundred or so of the 10/20 and 12/30 Enfield-Alldays were built.
In 1923 Enfield Alldays went public (Enfield-Allday Motors Limited) in an attempt to turn the tide, but soon after went in liquidation.
The Enfield Cycle Co purchased the release of the right to use the Enfield name from the liquidator of Enfield-Allday Motors Ltd.
Production ended in 1925 and the company's final factory, at Small Heath, Birmingham, closed down.
Read the article from the 1995 September Issue of MotorSport Magazine
Until recently Alldays and Onions had been conducted by a receiver and manager on behalf of the former debenture holders. In 1925, it was transferred by him to a new company, and the business from August 1925 continued under the name of New Alldays and Onions. The new board consisted of Sir William Mitchell Cotts and Mr A. T. Cocking.
By 1932 the company was largely owned by Mitchell Cotts and Co. and became a part of Mitchell Cotts and Co. in 1936.
In 1969 Mitchell Cotts combined the company with another of its subsidiaries, J. C. Peacock (Engineers) also involved in industrial fans, in a new company called Alldays Peacock.
In the 1980s Alldays Peacock was acquired by the Spire Group.
In 2005 Alldays Peacock was taken over by the Witt Group and still is a part now (2018). The WITT UK Group are world-renowned designers and manufacturers of industrial fans, and associated air movement solutions.