1900 Lewis motor car

Someone at Lewis - let's guess either Vivian Lewis himself or workshop foreman Tom O'Grady - was a hoarder. Not an indiscriminate hoarder, but a hoarder in the most admirable way.

Nowhere is this hoarding tendency better displayed than in photograph 11. Although at first glance it appears to be just a busy scene in the Lewis factory in 1904, it is in fact a unique photograph: the only one known to capture  both the first Lewis motorcycle (the 1899 Lewis motor triplet) and the first Lewis car. By the date of the photograph, both vehicles were old enough to be considered relics.

If the engineless triplet requires some spotting (it is hanging in the rafters in right background), the first Lewis car is almost invisible. But we can make it out - or at least the tips of its rear springs - just to left of the knees of the man at the drill press in the middle of the photograph.

Just a glimpse of the first Lewis car The first Lewis car in 1902 trim

The photograph on the right shows the Lewis car as it was in 1902 (the original engine used in both the triplet and the car having been replaced by a 5 h.p. water-cooled unit), and we can see clearly the distinctive rear springing.

Of course unlike the "modern" cars featured in the photographs, the out-dated pioneer car was kept (almost) out of sight. When the photographer repositioned himself to capture Jack Carruthers at the vertical mill for photograph 10 the old girl was wheeled out of the way. Has she been left where she was, we would have seen her in the space between Jack and the car behind.

Car No. 1was kept in the Lewis company into the 1920s. It pops up in the strangest places: for example look at the far right of the photo of the Lewis employees, taken some time in the teens.

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Copyright Leon Mitchell 2008

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