Worthington Brothers collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains items relating to Worthington Brothers, a coach-building company in Hythe, Kent, between 1847 and 1912. It consists of three series:

[1] Business papers;

[2] Greetings cards;

[3] Photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

The following is adapted from an article written by the donor:

Worthington Brothers, coach-builders in Hythe: 1847-1912

The Worthington family has long been associated with Hythe. For instance, Worthington Court, officially opened by Bernard Worthington (1992), was built on land once owned by the family, and Albert Road was named after Albert Day (Mayor of Hythe 1898-99,) whose daughter, Florence Emily, married Frederick Worthington, the coach-builder, in 1890. Worthington Brothers, the coach-building company, had its premises on the corner of Twiss Road and East Street (cf WOR/3).

Before they ceased trading in 1912, after a brief foray into the world of motor cars, Worthington Brothers used to be accomplished makers and exporters of horse-drawn carriages. Using local military connections, they exported all over the 'Empire', including to India. There is still a military barracks in Hythe, and this connection proved profitable, enabling the business to make custom-built carriages for officers of the Raj.

One carriage, which remained in England, was restored and driven through the town as part of the Hythe Flower Festival in 1951 (cf WOR/3). Another miniature, child-sized carriage built in 1900, remains in the family. This 'toy' carriage was once frequently in use, pulled by a dog, and in recent times it was loaned by the late Lena Worthington to the Stade Street library and museum.

When researching this article, the author (great-grandson to Frederick Worthington), was surprised to find that between 1909 and 1912 Worthington Brothers built prototype motor vehicles, including a 'Duocar' and a 'Runabout'. The Duocar (or 'cycle-car') had an 8-hp V-twin J.A.P. engine, complete with a fan-cooled automatic carburettor. It could be that Robert Worthington's sudden death (in a motor accident) may have had something to do with the fact that the project never went any further. No images survive of either model of car other than poor-quality photocopies taken from publications that have long been out of print.

A motoring encyclopaedia records how the family once had aspirations to build aircraft. While that remained a dream, one can imagine how Hythe could have changed had the family been as successful with cars or planes as they were with horse-drawn carriages.

(By Dr Roger Worthington)

More information is available in the collection's history file.

Arrangement

In the absence of any order, the collection has been arranged into three series to reflect the focus of the material.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers, by appointment. For further information, please see: nationalmotormuseum.org.uk/Motoring_research_service.

Archivist's Note

Description created by Helen Sumping, Aug 2015.

Custodial History

The collection was donated on 30 Jul 2015 by Dr Roger Worthington, great-grandson of Frederick Worthington.