The Rover Co.
of Meteor Works, Lode Lane, Birmingham
Rover was a British manufacturer of bicycles, motorcycles and
1905 The name was changed in November from the Rover Cycle Co to the Rover
WWI. During the First World War, they made motorcycles, lorries to Maudslay
designs and not having a suitable one of their own, cars to a Sunbeam
They acquired a factory at Tyseley
The business was not very successful during the 1920s, and did not pay
a dividend from 1923 until the mid 1930s.
1926 J. K. Starley is MD.
In 1929 there was a change of management with Spencer Wilks coming in from
as general manager. He set about reorganising the company and moving it
up market to cater for people who wanted something "superior" to and Austin.
1930 He was joined by his brother Maurice Wilks, who had also been at Hillman as chief engineer. Spencer Wilks stayed with the company until 1962 and
his brother until 1963.
1932 E. Ransom Harrison (Chairman) and H. Rowe Graham.
In the late 1930s, in anticipation of potential hostilities which would
become World War II, the British government started a re-armament programme
and as part of this "Shadow Factories" were built. These were paid for
by the government but staffed and run by private companies. Two were run
by Rover, one at Acocks Green, Birmingham, started operation in 1937, and
a second, larger one at Solihull, started in 1940. Both were employed making
aero engines and airframes. The original main works at Helen Street, Coventry,
was severely damaged by bombing in 1940 and 1941, and never regained full
1940 In early 1940 Rover were approached by the government to support Frank
Whittle in developing the gas turbine engine. Whittle's company, Power
Jets had no production facilities and the intention was for Rover to take
the design and develop it for mass production. Whittle himself was not
pleased by this and did not like design changes made without his approval
but the first test engines to the W2B design were built in a disused cotton
mill in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, in October 1941.
1942 Rolls-Royce took an interest in the new technology and an agreement
was reached in 1942 that they would take over the engines and Barnoldswick
works and in exchange Rover would get the contract for making Meteor
tank engines which actually continued until 1964.
After the Second World War, the company abandoned Helen Street and bought
the two Shadow Factories. Acocks Green carried on for a while making Meteor
engines for tanks and Solihull became the new centre for vehicles with
production resuming in 1947 and would become the home of the Land Rover.
1947 E. Ransom Harrison (Chairman),
1954 E. Ransom Harrison retires due to ill health and H. Rowe Graham is
1956 H. Rowe Graham (Chairman)
1958 Spencer Wilks is Chairman.
1964 69th AGM. L. G. T. Farmer is Chairman.
1965 Bid for Alvis
In 1967, Rover became part of the Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC), which
already owned Triumph.
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