Britain By Car - A Motoring History

Argyll

Lightbox ImageThe first - and last - location of the Argyll car factory.

Location    
Hozier Engineering Company Ltd, Hozier Street, Bridgeton

Date
c1899 – 1906 and 1915 -1928

Other locations
Alexandria, Strathclyde

Commentary
The roots of the company, that was to become one of Scotland’s most important car manufacturers, go back to around 1896, when Alexander Govan began to sell French cars in Glasgow. In 1899, he developed his own car, the Argyll, based on a Renault design.  It went into production in 1900 when Alexander Govan, with financial backing from Warren Smith of the National Telegraph Company, established the Hozier Engineering Company.   

The car sold well, and further and more powerful models were introduced. The Argyll developed a reputation of being more robust and sophisticated than many of its competitors, helped no doubt by successes in the 1901 Glasgow Trials and record-breaking runs from John O’Groats to Lands End.

By 1904, the company was producing 15 vehicles per week, making Argyll (as Paul Collins and Michael Stratton note) the first manufacturer in Europe with an output of more than 500 vehicles per year.

However, the layout of the Hozier factory was not suited to large-scale production, and in 1906, Alexander Govan moved the factory to a new purpose-built site in Alexandria, about 18 miles outside Glasgow.

Although the new factory in Alexandria met with initial success, the company was forced, within two years, into liquidation.  With a much reduced workforce, it changed its name to Argylls Ltd, but insufficient sales and a costly legal case resulted in a second liquidation - in 1914.

Lightbox Image

In 1915, the company returned to Bridgeton, but relatively few cars were made, although the company continued to show cars at Olympia until 1927. 

Reports indicate that the Argyll works at Bridgeton were finally closed in 1932.  

Further details    
• The Scottish Motor Industry, Michael Worthington Williams, Shire Publications Ltd, 1989