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About quiz #422: 1909 Little Briton 2 cylinder 10HP

Briton restored

Briton barnfind-470
Last week's quiz was about a sweet little thing that was built in the UK. Although, there aren't still many of those cars around we received quite some good answers. But what was it exactly. Well, first the story behind the pictures. By Michael Ware:

Wade Ceramics of Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire have been making ceramic items since 1810.  A glance at their products on Google shows a tremendous variety, mainly of popular and collectable designs.  c1962 they brought out a series of dishes  featuring veteran cars.  These were known as tyre dishes as the edge of the dish was given a tyre-like design.   As far as I can make out they did a series of veteran cars which includes the Darracq and Spyker from "Genevieve", a Model T Ford, Itala, baby Peugeot and Rolls-Royce (probably AX 201).   This series of plates (and a series on mugs) were marked on the base  "Design authenticated by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain".  I believe they also did a series of commercial vehicles as well.

Richard Skinner who runs restoration company Tudor Wheels of Romsey Hampshire was in a local charity shop and saw one of the dishes and promptly bought it. This was slightly different to others as it features a 1909 Little Briton and did not have the VCC authentication. Instead on the front appeared the words "First production of Tractor Spares Ltd Wolverhampton".
The Briton Motor Company was founded in 1909 as branch of Star of Wolverhampton who had chosen to market their smaller cars as Britons rather than Star.  The Briton Company was in liquidation in 1922 and was later bought Mr.Charles A. Weight who ran  Tractor Spares of Wolverhampton.  I think it's a little spurious of the plate to proclaim "First production of Tractor Spares Ltd...".  As the little Briton plate is not "Authenticated by the VCC" I am assuming that this was a one off series of plates made especially for Mr. Charles G Weight, son of the first owner of Tractor Spares  as advertising. As we shall see later we know he too was proud of the Briton connection.

The car on the plate is now owned by an enthusiast in Scotland.  He has no idea how it came to be on a plate.  According to the Veteran Car Club records it looks as if the car was owned in the early 1960's ( the time of the possible issue of the plates), by Reg Taverner, well known member of the VCC and purchaser of many cars for the Sharpe Collection of Rayleigh.  This huge collection of cars, many unrestored, was sold by Christies in 2005.   The partly restored Briton (see above) did not reach reserve at the sale and was bought afterwards by the present owner.

What is amazing about this story is that we believe there are only 4 Little Briton's existing in this country and Richard Skinner owns one of them ? Quite a coincidence that he should find this plate. Sadly the car illustrated on the plate was not his. The car he owns has an interesting history.

Richard purchased it last year, knowing that it had been in storage for some 40 years. His car IT 442 was built new in 1909 and is the oldest known.   It is a twin cylinder car of 1915cc and is Veteran Car Club dated.  It was exported new to Ireland and registered in County Leitrim.  Its history is vague but it is known that it was later preserved and rallied in suitable events until the 1960's.  By 1968, maybe earlier, it was owned by Charles G.  Weight of Tractor spares of Willenhall. Richard has a copy of an advertising film from the MACE Archives (Media Archive for Central England.  which shows a tour of Tractor Spares factory with Charles Weight. At the end of which he is seen starting, with ridiculous ease, the Briton and driving it away watched by two boys. The commentary is in French. By 1975 IT 442 was owned by an enthusiast group calling themselves The Wessex Machinery Museum Ltd.  In that year it was taken to the Southsea Traction Engine rally towed behind the Burrell showmans engine "Majestic"! The entry in the programme for the event reads "Acquired from the successors of the British Motor Co".  I am certain this is a misprint for Briton Motor Co and I  believe indicates that they bought the car direct from C.G. Weight of Tractor Spares. The content of the Museum collection was sold on the 8th May 1976, but the Briton was not included.  Along with a few other cars it remained in storage in Hampshire until bought by Richard Skinner, who has recently completed its restoration.

To answer the question what car it was. Indeed a 1909 Twin Cylinder Briton. We received good answers from Korben Guns, Gerd Klioba and Kit Maxwell. But the most complete answer came from John Campbell, who even told us that this is car no 47. Well John, congratulations in winning this week's quiz. Please send your address and size to us and you will receive the famous T-shirt.

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