Bring back some good or bad memories


September 18, 2020

An Early Tricar With a Single-Cylinder Engine at Ross House, Co. Galway, Ireland, ca. 1898

In the late 19th century, motor cars were a novel and very expensive curiosity and a fashionable form of recreation, rather than a practical form of transport. Petrol stations for example were few in number. Here, at least one member of the Martin family at Ross House, Co. Galway posing in a wonderful motor car, that was housed in the stables when not in use.

(Photo via National Library of Ireland)

It has been suggested that the lady may be the novelist Violet Martin (of Somerville & Ross, and The Irish R.M. fame), but Violet was born in 1865 so would have been only around 33 or 34 when this photo was taken. So, maybe it’s just the veil that seems to be ageing her.

The car is either a Turrell-Bollée Voiturette or a Coventry Motette. A Leon Bollée were very much the equivalent of a Ferrari in their day and were much copied. In Britain H J Lawson of British Motor Syndicate fame bought the patents with a view to manufacturing a copy, which he did through his company The Coventry Motor Company Limited of which Charles McRobie Turrell was the General Manager. The car thus produced was called the Coventry Motette. Here, another rare photo probably taken on the same day is far more likely to be Violet Martin:

(Photo via Bob Montgomery)

The Coventry Motor Company or CMC was a Coventry motor vehicle manufacturer established in early 1896 by H J Lawson’s secretary Charles McRobie Turrell (1875-1923) as a subsidiary of Lawson’s British Motor Syndicate.

The Coventry Motor Company produced in 1898 the Coventry Motette, a 3½ hp tricar with a single-cylinder engine, a modified version of the Léon Bollée tricar. These cars were also built, under license, on those premises in the early years by staff of Humber and Company who had been rehoused there after the Humber works was damaged by fire.

The business was also operated from addresses at Parkside and Conduit Yard off Spon Street. A Mrs H De Veulle drove an example from Coventry to London to show that it could be handled by a woman and to show its reliability. It ceased to trade around 1903.


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