Papers of the Rover Cycle Company Ltd.

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Board minutes of Rover Company Ltd. and its predecessors, including J. K. Starley and Company Ltd., cycle manufacturers, 1890-1996; Rover Cycle Company Ltd (Rover Company Ltd. from 1905), 1896-1909; Rover Company Ltd., 1909-1972; indexes to the minutes, 1958-1972; Rover Company executive directors' minutes, 1961-1966; executive directors' attendance book; minutes of Rover Executive Manufacturing Committee, 1973; Rover Cycle Company Ltd./Rover Company Ltd. shareholders' minutes 1896-1972; directors' minutes, 1937-1959; Rover Gas Turbines Ltd. records, 1953-1972; Rover Trustees Ltd., 1952-1956; Row Wood Estate Ltd., 1952-1956; Private ledgers of J. K. Starley & Co. Ltd., 1890-1896; Rover Cycle Co. Ltd., 1896-1903; Rover Co. Ltd.,1906-1916; Assets and Liabilities, 1906-1931; Stocktaking/audit memoranda files, 1931-1933, 1940-1941; annual accounts, 1932-4, 1936-57; files relating to bonus payments, 1934, 1936, 1942, 1943; Rover SDI [Rover 3500] car project: cost estimates, 1971; rates register, 1954-1978; various publications including Rover Magazine, 1945-1946; Rover News, 1961-1967; Rover Cycle Co. Ltd./Rover Co. Ltd. seal book, 1896-1949; register of property leases, conveyances and transfers relating to property in Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Warwick and elsewhere, 1891-1941; Ministry of Supply Factory, Acocks Green, Birmingham, 1951-1958; Rover official press-cutting binders, 1950-1962; photo albums of factories, 1961-1966; records relating to Alvis Ltd., 1966-1971; .

Administrative / Biographical History

The Rover Cycle Company Ltd. was founded in 1877 as a partnership between John Kemp Starley and William Sutton. The company originally manufactured cycles and motor cycles. By 1906 the company was making cars and the name changed to The Rover Company Limited. In 1933 the company came under new management from the Wilks Brothers. Until 1935, the MG company had been the sole property of Lord Nuffield. However, in that year he sold the company together with Wolseley and his other interests to Morris Motors Ltd. as part of a general rationalisation of the Morris companies, forming the Nuffield Organisation.

In 1965, Rover bought the small Alvis company of Coventry, maker of hand-built luxury cars as well as military vehicles. In 1966, Rover was in turn bought by the expanding Lancashire based truck maker, Leyland, which already owned Standard Triumph. In 1968, a grand alliance of Britain's motor industry was created when the Leyland group merged with Britain's largest marker of popular cars, British Motor Corporation (BMC), which produced Austin, Morris, MG and other makes. BMC had previously allied itself with the Jaguar company. Within the Leyland hierarchy, Rover was eventually merged with Triumph and Jaguar as a maker of upmarket specialist cars. In 1975, Leyland was nationalised.

In 1986, Sir Graham Day was appointed as chairman of British Leyland. He quickly renamed the company Rover Group and began a programme of moving the company and its products upmarket, away from mass-produced cars. In his role, Sir Graham set about completing a privatisation programme which saw many of British Leyland's subsidiaries (including Jaguar) being sold. In 1988, this was finally accomplished with the sale of Rover Group to British Aerospace. After six years in the ownership of British Aerospace, in early 1994, the Rover Group was taken over by the German carmaker, BMW. Following six years under the ownership of BMW, on March 16, 2000, BMW announced fundamental reorganisation plans that resulted in the sale of the key constituent parts of the group. The MG Rover Group took responsibility for the development, production and distribution of Rover Cars and acquired the MG brand and some heritage brands. The new company, MG Rover Group Limited, is now an independent, medium sized, British company that produces cars under the Rover and MG brands from the Longbridge, Birmingham plant.

Reference: MG Rover Media Group, MG Rover History Lesson ( Accessed August 2002.


This collection forms part of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Archive (MSS.226).

The Modern Records Centre uses a classification scheme. For further details of the scheme, see It is compatible with ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description (2000).

Conditions Governing Access

A 30 year closure period applies to this collection.

Acquisition Information

This collection was deposited in the Centre by the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust in 1988.

Other Finding Aids

A paper catalogue to file level is available in the Centre's searchroom, at the National Register of Archives in London and in Chadwyck-Healey's National Inventory of Documentary Sources. A catalogue to file level is available in electronic format on the Access to Archives (A2A) website at:

Authority records exist for Rover Cycle Company Ltd. (GB 152 AAR2329); Rover Company Limited (GB 152 AAR2330); Rover Group (GB 152 AAR2331); MG Rover Group Ltd. (GB 152 AAR2332); Morris Motors Ltd. (GB 152 AAR2309).

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for publication of deposited material or the result of research based on it should be made to the Trust. The Trust reserves all rights to commercial exploitation and commercial publication. Please contact the Centre's staff for further details.

Appraisal Information

There are no restrictions on access to these papers.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

The Modern Records Centre holds the papers of other companies which form part of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Archive. These include papers of the British Motor Corporation. The Modern Records Centre also owns a small quantity of Land Rover and Range Rover booklets and press-cuttings, which are listed in the Centre.

Technical materials are retained by the BMIHT. Technical enquiries should be made direct to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, Archives and Information Service, Gaydon, Warwickshire.