Friday, 9 March 2012

Thames Ditton, Surrey, Auto Carriers (AC) Works, c1912

Thames Ditton, Surrey, Auto Carriers (AC) Works, circa 1912. AC Cars began in West Norwood in the dawn of the twentieth century, founded by the Weller brothers. Among their earliest designs was a neat three-wheeled car with one wheel behind the driver and two in front. On the front wheels a large parcel area was placed, thus making the car ideal as a delivery vehicle. This was called the 'Auto Carrier' and thus the AC marque was founded. In 1907 a passenger version appeared, where the driver and his passenger sat above the front wheels. Steering was by a tiller. This passenger version was known as the 'AC Sociable'. By 1911 the company had moved to Thames Ditton in Surrey. An early AC Sociable, registration number BH-1683, appears in many of the postcards of postcard publisher and photographer William Henry Applebee. Have a look at this post and this post for a look at his AC Sociable. Underneath the Google Street View you can see close-ups of Mr Applebee's AC Sociable. The postcard you can see here shows the Thames Ditton works shortly after they were founded. I am tempted to think that Mr Applebee came here to have his AC Sociable serviced and took a few photographs while this was being done. I assume the car you can see is an AC - they also made four-wheelers. Much later they became very famous for their sports cars including the mighty AC Cobra, all produced at the Thames Ditton Works. The building you can see on the Google Street View is clearly the same building as the one on the postcard, but it is much-altered. AC Cars are still in business but are not produced in Thames Ditton anymore.

Postcard by W H Applebee of Ashford. Click the postcard to enlarge. If you right-click the enlarged version you can save a 300dpi copy to your computer.
For more old photos you may care to visit the Sepia Saturday blog.





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Mr Applebee's AC Sociable from other postcards:


10 comments:

  1. Wikipedia mentions that they are now manufactured in Germany, that must be painful ...

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  2. the modern photos look so much more barren than the old ones. no trees for one thing, fewer signs of life.

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  3. The old AC cars look quite practical, unlike the sports cars.

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  4. A real horseless carriage! Riding as a passenger must have felt risky. Was it faster than a carriage? It's also amazing that so little seems to have changed along the street. A reminder that many places kept homes, pubs, etc. so close to industry.

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  5. An old boyfriend of mine had an AC Bristol. Were they also from this same company? I loved riding in that spiffy car. That was backing the early 60s.
    Nancy

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  6. A fascinating carriage that I had never seen before, The 'Teas' and 'Luncheons' sign is big enough. Theshame is that local councils often ban such signs today.

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  7. I have never seen a car like that, nor heard of AC's. These are really neat. I am glad to see that the old brick building is still standing and still in use. Thanks!

    Kathy M.

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  8. That is one amazing car, and what a great joy to take a ride in it.

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  9. I've always enjoyed the now and then photos. Think the area looked better in the vintage shot. I've never seen a car like this one - very neat!

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  10. Fantastic postcards and thank you for the info on the car, I hadn't heard of them.

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