Monday, 13 December 2010

Bristol disambiguation - Bristol RE & Bristol 400.

I received an e-mail form Hans in Oldenburg asking if there is any connection between the Bristol Car Company and Bristol Commercial Vehicles to which the answer in German is 'jaein', yes and no.

In 1874 George White, born in Kingsdown, Bristol, round the corner from where yours truly lives, was working for a firm of solicitors responsible for the promotion of the Bristol Tramways Company and became involved with the Imperial Tramways Company operating across parts of England and London United Tramways operating in West London.

These horse drawn tram operators were merged in 1887 into the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company of which George White was Managing Director. By 1900 he had been promoted to Chairman of the BT&CC. BT&CC started building vehicles, initially with chassis from Filton fitted with bodies from it's Brislington works in 1908 after the Thorneycrofts and FIATs it had been operating were found to be too unreliable.

Bristol Commercial Vehicles, based wholly in Brislington, was separated from the bus operating company Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company in 1955. This 1969/70 Bristol RE (Rear Engine), with bodywork by Eastern Coach Works of Lowestoft, was the most successful first generation rear engined bus, production started in 1962 and continued until 1982 though in it's last years it was only supplied to customers in Northern Ireland and New Zealand after being absorbed by British Leyland in 1972.

After witnessing a flight by Wilbur Wright in France in 1909 the now titled Sir George White Bt (Baronet, 6th division of aristocracy below Lords above all but two levels of Knights, a hereditary title issued to commoners of wealth originally but public service latterly) founded the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1910 for commercial aircraft production.

The Bristol Car Company was born out of the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1947 under the leadership of Sir George White Bt's grandson George Stanley Midelton White although the cars were marketed for several years as being made by the Bristol Aeroplane Company run by his father Sir George Stanley White, Bt.

So the two companies manufacturing vehicles bearing the 'Bristol' name are connected through the White family but not through any commercial or technical arrangements, of course the Bristol Car Company is the only one that survives. The blue car in the photo's is one of the 487 Bristol '400' models made between 1947 and 1950.

Thanks for joining me on today's commercial disambiguation edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' I hope you'll join me for tomorrow's Bristol Blue, edition. Don't forget to come back now !