The history of the Wolseley motor company began far away from the UK shores, in Sydney, Australia.

It was there where a young man by the name of Frederick York Wolseley made his first steps in the business world establishing a factory to manufacture sheep shearing equipment.

From the early days of the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company Limited in 1887, things moved very fast - so fast that just nine years later Wolseley had taken his company to the UK and was running a car manufacturing plant in the “ motor city” of Birmingham, in the Midlands of England.

Wolseley had the good luck or fortune to call upon the talents of a young man by the name of Herbert Austin to work on the designs of his early prototypes and production models during the critical formative years of the company.

Austin was destined for bigger and better things, forming his own company which would grow to become among the leading UK car manufacturing conglomerates .

Still trading as an ofshoot of the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Company, the Wolseley Motor Company enjoyed some early success, selling close to one hundred cars during its early years.

Despite his encouraging start, Wolseley decided the automobile business was not for him, selling out to the Sheffield based engineering giant, Vickers Son and Maxim Limited, who eventually evolved their car production disvion to become the Rover Group,

After the sale of his auto manufacturing division, Frederick Wolseley returned to concentrating his talents and energies on the development and manufacture of sheep shearing equipment, eventually diversifying into producing a wide range of agricultural machinery.

In the meantime, Vickers Son and Maxim Limited continued to consolidate their car manufacturing interests.

The powers at be at Vickers liked the name so much that in 1914 they took the deciison to consolidate their car production activities under the umbrella of the Wolseley Motor Company.

In the years preceding and immediately after the end of World War I Wolseley began to expand their operations across the world selling their cars in the United States as well as establishing a working relationship with a massive shipbuilding concern in Japan, which gradually developed to become Isuzu Motors.

During the early Twenties, the Vickers Son and Maxim Limited, now known as just plain “Vickers” continued their massive expansion, which they eventually discovered in 1926 that they didn’t have the finance at their disposal to continue to operate such an enormous diversification.

<

Financially vulnerable, Wolseley found themselves facing the chilling prospect of bankruptcy.

That was the moment that UK auto magnate, William Morris, ever looking to expand his business, had been waiting for.

Morris swifty struck up a deal that absorbed Wolseley into his group, wasting very little time in transferring production to his extensive Ward End Works operated by in Birmingham.

Over the next ten years, Wolseley was gradually absorbed into the Morris Motor Company, becoming a subsidiary in 1935.

Three years later a full-fledged division of the Nuffield Organisation alongside the Morris Motor Company as well as a number of other Nuffield acquisitions, among them Riley Motors company.

With the Second World War behind them, Morris and Wolseley production was consolidated into a massive, state of the art production unit situated in Cowley, in Oxfordshire.

Got a question, a comment, a suggestion or an offer??? - FEEL FREE TO CONTACT US ANYTIME!!

A guide to acquiring, restoring and maintaining UK or European Classic Cars of the Fifties and Sixties- as well as a recollection of the iconic cars of the era and the visionaries that produced them.

Modify

Take me back to the home page.