Sand was key factor in Asquith car’s run

Asquith car, built in 1901 by Mr J H Asquith of the local machine tool firm
Asquith car, built in 1901 by Mr J H Asquith of the local machine tool firm

The explanation for the eight hours the Asquith automobile took in travelling from Halifax to Morecambe, has kindly been supplied by Mr John Swallow of Rishworth, a former employee of Asquith’s. (“Halifax-built Cars…”, YourSay 9 Nov. 2010)

The following extract comes from an undated article in the company magazine: “The eight hours occupied can easily be explained when it is pointed out that the occupants had to maintain a constant lookout for sand, which was generously applied to the driving belt when tackling an incline…” The same account gives more information about the car: “Other interesting features were the large burnished copper cylinder which served as a petrol tank, the acetylene lamps which resembled miniature searchlights in size if not in power, also the horn …. Special mention must be made of the radiator, which consisted of a series of tubes in spiral form.”

Some years ago, the late Ivor Aspinall (1931-2008) who lived for many years in Moor End Road, Halifax, made a private study of the motor industry in Calderdale.

Mr. Aspinall was full of praise for the early motor pioneers in this area. In 1983 he pointed out “You couldn’t go out and buy a set of sparking plugs or a carburettor. There were no specialists making clutches, gearboxes or steering gear. If you wanted any of these things you had to make it yourself. And if it blew up or set on fire you started all over again. There was a real spirit of adventure.” And, 110 years ago, there were virtually no good roads, no petrol stations, and no road-maps as such.

It seems that it was at Hipperholme the first motor vehicle was built in Calderdale. Its name was the Mytholm, and it was built by Thomas Potter Buckton. Thomas was born at West View, Boothtown, in 1869, son of Henry Buckton (1830-88), Master Tallow Chandler and Grocer, and his wife Mary Potter (1833-1925) from Ripon. Latterly, Henry lived at “Highfield,” Hipperholme. By 1891 Thomas was living with his widowed mother Mary at Victoria Terrace, Hipperholme, and listed as a Cycle Manufacturer; in 1897 he married Gertrude Rowley, of Rauceby, Lincs.

Between 1895 and 1900 Thomas produced several cars in his workshop - a three wheeler, a four-wheeler with tiller steering, and then a two-seater. In 1900 came another four-wheeler with pneumatic tyres. As his business grew, Thomas took on a Mr. Brown as partner, the concern becoming Buckton and Brown. In 1900 “Autocar” magazine reported a Mytholm delivered by road to a customer in Bristol, which involved a journey of 200 miles, taking 17 hours.

In 1901 Thomas is listed as “Motor Car maker” living at Moravian Terrace, Lightcliffe, working from home. His company was later taken over by the Yorkshire Motor Co., but some cars continued to be made at Hipperholme, using Mytholm engines.

Thomas lived latterly at North Lea, Lightcliffe; he died on 17 August 1913, aged 44. His widow Gertrude died at Harrogate in 1938.

Can any reader kindly identify Buckton’s partner, “Mr Brown”?

Elsewhere in Calderdale, several models were produced by F. W. Bond and Co., of Crowtrees Works, Rastrick, between 1922 and 1928. One of these was tested by Sir Malcolm Campbell (1885-1948), of racing and speed-trial fame, who suggested a number of improvements. In 1927 the Bond sports-car was highly recommended in by “Light Car and Cyclecar” magazine; but sadly, in 1928, all Bond production ceased, perhaps because of the Recession.

David C Glover