Records of J Stewart & Co (Wishaw) Ltd, coach builders, Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, Scotland

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

  • financial records 1936-1979 ;
  • staff records 1936-1970 ;
  • production records 1933-1967;
  • plans of works 1982 ;
  • photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Stewart & Co (Wishaw) Ltd was incorporated on 10 June 1919 to acquire the existing coach building business and works of John Steel & Sons. The company was based at 180 Kirk Road, Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, Scotland and John Stewart was managing director, with his father-in-law, Thomas Boyes, as a director along with John’s nephew, William Stewart, who was also secretary.John Stewart had been a member of the Royal Flying Corps from 1914-1918 and had seen at first hand the benefits of the motor vehicle, and on his demobilisation seized the opportunity to venture into this field with the Steel takeover. The range of bodies produced by John Steel & Sons was continued under the Stewart regime with a steady growth in the production of motor powered lorries, charabancs and buses during the 1920s. One of the first vehicles built was a van body on a Belhaven chassis for the bakery department of the Wishaw Co-operative Society. Bodies were supplied for the locally-built Albion, Beardmore, Clyde and Halley chassis, as well as examples of bus bodies on AEC, Dennis, Ford, Karrier, Leyland, and Traffic chassis, many being former War Department vehicles. A number of conversions were also undertaken, modifying horse drawn bodies to suit motor vehicle chassis.As business grew, John Stewart & Co (Wishaw) Ltd recruited the locally based John McInnes and his son Peter in 1922. McInnes had been a joiner and coachbuilder in his own right. He joined the company as a representative, but later took charge of the blacksmith and trimming departments. His son, Peter, became foreman coachbuilder. As well as the body building facility, garage premises and a petrol filling station were owned, the whole complex being based at 138-180 Kirk Road. Gradual extensions to the building works commenced around 1926-1927, eventually replacing all the original building with the exception of the dwelling house originally owned by John Steel that was retained as an office. Towards the end of the 1920s, Stewart extended their offerings to include repairing and cellulosing private cars, and this went on to be an integral part of the garage repair business.In about the mid-1920s, Stewart’s started producing significant quantities of wooden rings for Albion Motors, Scotstoun, Glasgow, Scotland. Albion also became the major chassis provider for the company. In addition, Stewart bodied the majority of Clyde bus chassis, built locally in Wishaw by McKay & Jardine Ltd, up until 1932 when they ceased production. Other new chassis manufacturers during the 1930s for Stewart bus bodies included AJS, Bedford, Commer, Daimler, Dodge, Fordson, Gilford, Morris and TSM.The 1930s saw major expansion of the coach building business. Further extensions to the premises were built with high roofs to accommodate both Luton vans and double-decker buses although only one double-decker was ever built.The directors of the company continued unchanged until 1938 when Thomas Boyes retired from the business. John Stewart continued to take an active interest in the firm until his death in 1956 at the age of 77. Stewart’s son, another John Stewart, became works director. Thomas Boyes Stewart, second son of John Stewart, was subsequently appointed managing director.No bus bodies are known to have been built during the 1939-1945 World War, but the firm carried out a number of coach building alterations for Civil Defence and War Department vehicles. Whilst body building continued after the War, the orders for buses began to dry up, and no further bus bodies were built after 1951. Van bodies of all types continued to be built, but body activity gradually became more specialised. Activities advertised during the 1970s consisted of crew cab conversions; invalid buses; van conversions; crew bus conversions; and Tipmaster steel bodies. Increasingly, the business focused on repair facilities and accident damage experts, covering virtually every type of vehicle.In 1979, the Stewart business merged with the Wishaw-based coach operating company, Hunter of Wishaw. The company continued under the Stewart name and continued to provide a fully comprehensive garage service to car and van users. Competition in the industry however remained fierce and John Stewart & Co (Wishaw) Ltd eventually went into liquidation in 2001.

Arrangement

This material is arranged into series, which consist of numbers of items related by format and/or function. Within series, the items are generally arranged chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Unknown

Note

Fonds level compiled by Hannah Westall, Archives Assistant, 10 March 2000.

History written by Mr Gadsby? See deposit file.

Other Finding Aids

digital file level list available in searchroom.

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S) 958) and London (NRA 18277)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures

Custodial History

Unknown, presumably with company until liquidation

Accruals

None expected

Related Material

No related material

Location of Originals

The material is original

Bibliography

No known publications using this material