Halley’s Industrial Motors Ltd competed with Albion for the title of Scotland’s largest commercial vehicle maker from 1906 to 1919. Sadly their founder and well respected managing director, George Halley, was crippled with TB from 1916 and died in 1921. This loss and the post war slump of 1919 caused the company to decline with eventual closure in 1927.
The original company made thousands of highly rated motor lorries, many of which could double as charabancs at weekends or could serve another industrial purpose such as tower trucks. The mystery is why they are relatively unknown today and why so very few have survived.
The history of this rare survivor displayed is not fully understood. It was recovered by Ken Senior of Chertsey in the late 1950s from a site near Heathrow Airport where it was found fitted with an ancient mobile home body and occupied by a ‘hermit’! Ralph Halley, a descendent of the Halley family, purchased the remains and lent the lorry to Glasgow Transport Museum fitted with a stylized body to keep the memory of the company alive.
Recently Ralph Halley donated the vehicle to the Grampian Transport Museum to be fitted with a more faithful replica body based on the most popular forms recorded in photographs. The B35 Halley built engine in this vehicle is a four cylinder (two banks of two) unit of 6.3 litres capacity that gave 35 hp. Sadly it is much damaged and robbed and so restoration or replication will be a long term project. Strangely the separate transmission, despite evidence in the chain final drive sprockets of very heavy use, is in near perfect condition and was found to be full of clean, clear oil!
The reconstruction of a typical lorry body was carried out entirely by volunteers, David and Frances Brown, Sandy Shirras and Stanley Strachan, over two winters in the museum’s workshop.