Top 10 SMITHS Speedometer Customers 1904-1905

After supplying a speedometer to King Edward VII's Mercedes-Simplex in 1904, SMITHS included the statement 'As supplied to H.M. the King' on all their advertising.  This, and an increased demand for 'Speed Indicators' generally, resulted in a boom of orders between 1904 and 1905.  In fact, between August 1904 and November 1905, SMITHS fitted approximately 1,300 'speed indicators'.

Original SMITHS records give details of the top 10 customers between 1904 and 1905.  Included in the list are brands that still exist today.  The top 10 were:

  1. Gamages - After starting life as a watch repair shop in 1878, Gamages became a large department store in London.  They purchased 90 'speed indicators' believed to be for specific customer requests and to sell in their shop.  Gamages closed in 1972;
  2. Wallis & Watson - They were electrical engineers based in Leeds and purchased 69 'speed indicators' to fit onto their customer's vehicles;
  3. J. A. Lawton & Co (coachbuilders) - Founded in 1870 and based in Liverpool, the company expanded to also build car bodies.  In the early 1900s they opened a factory in London.  They purchased 40 'speed indicators';
  4. FIAT - It is possible that the 25 'speed indicators' supplied to the Italian Car Manufacturer were for the Fiat 60 HP, of which 86 were produced between 1903 and 1907;
  5. Hooper & Co (coachbuilders) - Based in London, they purchased 23 'speed indicators'.  During World War II, the company made aeroplanes, and in 1939 they became part of the Daimler Motor Co;
  6. Daimler Motor Co - The UK Daimler Motor Company (not to be confused with the German Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft) was founded in Coventry in 1896 and purchased 16 'speed indicators).  The company was acquired by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in 1910;
  7. Rolls & Co - Charles Stewart Rolls (an English born Welshman) started a motor agency at Lillie Hall in Fulham in 1902.  His association with Henry Royce started when he agreed to handle the whole output of Royce Ltd cars, supplying the bodywork and selling the complete car to the public.  The company purchased 12 'speed indicators';
  8. London Motor Garage - As an automobile retailer, they also purchased 12 'speed indicators';
  9. Jarrott & Letts - Another automobile retailer who also purchased 12;
  10. Argyll Motors - One of the first Scottish motor car marque manufacturers, founded in 1899 as Hozier Engineering Co in Glasgow.  They purchased 12 'speed indicators' to fit on their range of 4 motor cars (10-12, 14-16, 16-20, and 26-30 h.p. models with shaft-drive);

The growth in demand for 'speed indicators'  during this period resulted in a new factory premises being established in Hagden Lane, Watford.  This was the beginning of a incredible history of designing and manufacturing gauges for Cars, Motorcycles, Boats and Industry.

For further information on SMITHS history or Speedometers for Cars or Motorcycles, please view the dedicated sections on our website, or contact us via:

Phone: +44 1639 732200

Email: info@caigauge.com

Via our website


Reference Documents

'A Long Time In Making - The History of Smiths', James Nye (Oxford University Press, 2014)

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Tags: Argyll MotorsAutomobile HistoryDaimler Motor CoFIATFIAT 60 HPGamagesRolls & CosmithsSpeed IndicatorsSpeedometer

Categories: Case Histories

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