Author Topic: Villiers factory 1940s  (Read 652 times)

Offline john.k

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Villiers factory 1940s
« on: July 19, 2021, 04:03:25 AM »
Interesting U Tube photoessay of the Villiers factory ,Wolverhampton ,in the 1940s...assumed post WW2........Who woulda thunk they had so much precision manufacturing capability in a factory that turned out tinpot twostrokes and small stationary engine........they also made bicycle coaster hubs,---80,000 a week.....The whole factory seems spotlessly clean........big contrast to the Douglass factory in another of the series......If you have plenty of data,watch the Douglas story.....very interesting historic film ,interspersed with various boring old twits recalling this and that at great length.....

Offline R

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2021, 05:23:34 AM »
A link would have been good ?

,interspersed with various boring old twits recalling this and that at great length.....

Hey, I resemble that remark !

Offline mini-me

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2021, 12:09:57 PM »
An interesting  [but derogatory?] view of a factory that turned out millions of reliable small engines used all over the world and not just in two wheelers. [from down under?]

why shouldn't it be of a high standard? Go read about the Norton factory Bracebridge street days and its clapped out machinery and dirt.

« Last Edit: July 20, 2021, 12:14:05 PM by mini-me »

Offline Rex

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2021, 09:37:29 PM »
I think even that view of Norton was always over-stated.
Like the immortal story of the length of wood bracing the jig boring machine against the wall, and the machine never worked properly again down at Plumstead because the wood was missing.
A good p*ss-take against those who turned up in nice suits and ties and wrote articles far removed from reality of life in industrial settings.
Amazingly that little anecdote is  still trotted out now as "proof" of why the old British factories deserved to go down the pan.. 

Offline R

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2021, 11:35:24 PM »
Bert Hopwood himself tells, in print, one of those stories though, so they aren't all fiction. ?

He mentions that on one occasion he had to go to the James factory, in Greet.
They had in their care a number of automatic lathes, that were turning out numerous small items for various  parts as used in the AMC empire at the time.
He observed that they were turning out a lot of rejects, a LOT, and he enquired why they weren't adjusted so as to improve that reject rate.
They advised they weren't authorized to touch them, apart from feed them raw materials.
So on his return he recommended that they be allowed to do so.

6 months later, he was back there again.
And found that nothing had changed !
The reject rate was still of the order of 95% ....

Offline murdo

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2021, 07:50:33 AM »
Don't understand why a lot of people rubbish Villiers. I have had a few (still have one) over the years and found them to be, if looked after properly, to be a reliable engine and mostly easy starters. We had on our farm 2 and 4 stroke engines running pumps, air blowers and lawn mower as well as bikes. The Wolverhampton factory at one time employed over 2,000 people so they must have been doing something right. There was even a factory in Ballarat, Victoria in Australia that employed many locals in it's 20 acre factory.
Here is the utube.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xq2XfKCDA6k

Offline Rex

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2021, 09:18:55 AM »
And found that nothing had changed !
The reject rate was still of the order of 95% ....

Good old Bert was a bitter man in some respects, and his book reflects this.
A 95% reject rate? I'd call BS of the first order on that. AMC wasn't such a huge industrial conglomerate that that level of wastage could/would have continued without being noticed by someone.
I'd doubt that the James factory had anything other than manual lathes anyway, given that their absorption into AMC saved them from going under, and the factory had been run on a shoestring for decades.

Offline mini-me

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2021, 11:06:59 AM »
workers at AMC never  rated Norton productions very highly

Offline Rex

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2021, 10:01:19 AM »
Much the same as the BSA vs Triumph rivalry, I would say.
Given Norton's competition success over the decades and the high regard Nortons were held in, probably more than a little of the old green eyes from the South Londoners.

Offline TGR90B

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2021, 11:29:04 AM »
I loved Bert's book and have referenced it many times. His underlying bitterness is tempered with resignation of his ultimate ability. A thoroughly good man who, unfortunately, never had that arrogance, nastiness or drive to make him truly great; unlike Turner and a few.
Another great engineer who possibly didn't get the recognition he deserved was Doug Hele. Very similar in character to Bert Hopwood.
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Offline john.k

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2021, 11:51:38 AM »
A lot of the "I wuz there" stories are drivel too,made up by people who may have been there ,but didnt know what was going on.....exactly as the average worker has no clue of whats going on in the boardroom.......There has been a lot of drivel written about Leo Kuzmicki ,the Polish engineer who was working as a cleaner at Nortons......the true story is on the Rootes group website ,for those who dont know,after Norton he moved on to design the Hillman Imp,which was the first mass production car  engine to have cast in iron liners in an alloy block.

Offline mini-me

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2021, 12:34:59 PM »
Hillman Imp, yes. mmmmmmmmmm.

Offline TGR90B

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2021, 05:01:25 PM »
A young work colleague of mine bought a new Imp in the 60s and had nothing but trouble with it. The dealer couldn't fix it so he sold it and lost a fair bit of money. A cooling problem; I believe.
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Offline Rex

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2021, 05:27:28 PM »
If my memory is correct, wasn't the Imp another of those cars which were slow-sellers and problematic when launched, but gained popularity when the bugs were ironed out?
Quite an innovative car to come from the staid old Rootes Group too.

Offline TGR90B

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Re: Villiers factory 1940s
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2021, 07:33:23 PM »
Quite right Rex. From memory, something to do with government funding they had to be made in a Scottish factory. Unfortunately the incumbent workforce knew nothing at all about  making cars.
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