80 years ago

It was the evening of November 14th, 1940, and the German intruders had just watched the heaviest air raid yet seen in the war. There was virtually no opposition as the planes made their bombing runs in the crowded air space over the target. Down below was the object of it all, Coventry! Certainly Coventry was the heart of the British motor industry, also a major centre for machine tools and light engineering. It wasn’t a large city, either, with a population of only 125,000-odd in 1940. In fact, Coventry was so small that the raiders scarcely had to aim. They’d hit something for sure. The “something” included Alvis, Riley, Armstrong-Siddeley, Daimler & BSA, Lea-Francis, Humber/Hillman, SS Cars (Jaguar), Standard Triumph, also Morris Motors big engine and body plants. Alfred Herbert Limited was another, famed for its machine tools. Most were clustered within the city proper, which took some doing with a community as small as Coventry. “The Daimler” was a 10 minute walk from the central station, Morris Motors body plant was even closer, just next door to the depot. Coventry wasn’t big and spread out like an American city though it is now with the UK’s brand of urban development. Not all the plants were giants, carrying names of international fame. If Rover, Rootes and Riley took a pounding that night, so did many of the smaller outfits, older plants for the most part, unfamiliar as well but with origins back to the dawn of the British motor industry when Coventry was also a center for bicycles, machinery and carriages including Charlesworth Motor Bodies Limited.

(An extract from Bulletin 376, from Best of Old Car Weekly by Rolland Jerry)

For a current film by the Herbert on YouTube..


and clips from the BBC archive…


Author: alvisarchive

Driving Alvis cars since 1964 and the website since 2012

One thought on “80 years ago”

  1. Details of Smith-Clarke’s efforts both with Alvis and the Coventry hospitals are included in my biography: Coventry, Alvis and the Iron Lung’. I have copies of the German plan of the City with most of the factories marked. However, Alvis aero engine plant was relatively new and was not marked, escaping bombing.

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