WHEN CARS WERE MADE IN AYLESBURY
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CONTENTS

THE STORY OF THE CUBITT CAR

WHAT THE PAPERS SAID:
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925

A MECHANICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE 1922 MODEL

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THE CUBITT CAR


During the First World War car production in the UK virtually ceased although the demands of war production did lead to the development of new mass-production techniques in the motor industry.  Following the lifting of the embargo in 1919, many car manufacturers sprung up during the short-lived economic boom that followed the war.  By 1922 183 were in business, many being small and under-capitalised concerns; by 1929 only 58 remained.  The
Cubitt Car was one of these long-forgotten makes that was produced for a period in the early 1920s.  Between 1919 and 1925 some 3,000 vehicles – various car body designs and a van, all mounted on a standard chassis – were manufactured in Aylesbury by the Cubitts’ Engineering Company at their factory on the Bicester Road.  What follows is the story of the Cubitt Car.


A 1925 Cubitt Model K two-seat tourer with dickey seat.
Note the altered radiator design from the earlier models.


CUBITT’S ENGINEERING COMPANY Ltd. 

Yorkshire Post, 30th May 1919.


William Cubitt & Co. was an old established company employed in many of the great 19th century building and civil engineering undertakings.  Among them was the construction of the London & Birmingham Railway for which the firm undertook contracts to build the very difficult section of the line from Camden Town down to Euston, the sections of the line through King’s Langley and Berkhamsted, and construction of the stations at Euston and at Tring.  Other building projects undertaken by Cubitts included Covent Garden Market, a graving dock at Southampton, alterations to the Bank of England and extensions to the National Gallery and the Stock Exchange buildings.  A more modest design and construction project was the elegant manor house erected at Halton, Buckinghamshire, for Alfred de Rothschild of the famous Jewish banking family.

In 1883 Cubitt
s building business was taken over by Holland and Hannen, then becoming Holland, Hannen & Cubitts.  During the First World War the firm was involved in munitions work on a large scale, principally in the manufacture of various types of fuses for artillery shells.  They also built and managed for the government the National Aircraft Factory No. 1 at Croydon, an operation designed to mass produce AIRCO DH.9 bomber aircraft for the war effort.

Following the war Cubitts’ directors considered how best to utilise the large quantity of tools and machinery they had acquired for munitions work and their large staff.  They determined that much of their equipment could be used to manufacture cars and that anything in addition would not cost more than £10,000.  And so the decision was made to cash in on the expected boom in family cars by branching out into their manufacture.  The firm’s intention was to produce a medium-power touring car [1] at moderate price that would compete in cost with American imports to both the U.K. and its colonies, and to this end they planned to employ new mass production methods based on American practice.

The car manufacturing subsidiary, named the Cubitts’ Engineering Company, was registered on the 27th May, 1919.  The firm took over two industrial sites in Aylesbury located on each side of the Bicester Road, that during the First World War had been used to manufacturer aircraft hangars and every description of canvas work for the Royal Flying Corps (from 1918 the R.A.F.).  James Putnam, the owner, was attracted to the possibilities of the car manufacturing venture and agreed to exchange the factory for shares in the Cubitt Engineering Company.



The Cubitt car works, Bicester Road, Aylesbury, c.1920.


In 1919 Cubitts moved their equipment into Putnam’s former factory.  It consisted mostly of lathes, but machine tools were also acquired from Alfred Herbert Ltd, then Britain’s largest machine tool manufacturer.  The venture commenced under Eric May, Managing Director, and Major P. L. H. Dodson, Sales Director, with a team of draughtsmen.  Publicity at the time stated that:
It is intended to carry out the manufacture of the car on the principle of mass production, the company aiming at an output of at least 5,000 cars per annum.

PRODUCTION

The Cubitts’ Engineering Company aimed to mass-produce the
Cubitt 16/20 hp. [2] after the pattern of the cheap US vehicles then dominating the U.K.  Powered by a 2.8 litre four-cylinder engine and four-speed gearbox, [3] the car was simple, rugged and comparatively cheap, although pricing was to become a problem from the outset.

In 1919 the coach-building firm of Wright & Wright of Tring obtained an order to design and produce the bodywork for a prototype of the Cubitt car, and the firm’s coach-builders subsequently built a number of bodies for both 2- and 4-seater models, but Cubitts later built their own bodywork at their Bicester Road factory.


Wright & Wrights premises, Western Road, Tring.
The shop sign proudly claims “vehicles of every description built to order”!


The Cubitt Car was first advertised for sale in May 1919, although it is not clear whether they were then in production – probably not, for in his address to a shareholders
meeting at the beginning of that September, the Chairman had this to say:


I will tell you as briefly as possible the present position of the company.  As previously stated, in June, we issued our prospectus and subsequently proceeded to allotment.  Since then we have equipped the factory – that is, purchased, shipped and installed the plant and machinery, engaged the staff, arranged for the housing of our workpeople – which is no small matter – and generally got the works into running order, and we are now actually producing Cubitt Cars.

Western Mail, 9th September 1919.


Thus, based on the Chairman’s address, production appears to have begun in September 1919, the Chairman then going on to claim that the firm had received orders for £1M worth of cars with deposits amounting of £25K.  Initially priced at £298, the car was never as cheap to produce as had been hoped; by February 1920 the advertised price of the standard model had increased to £342, and by June to £442.


At the shareholders
meeting held in November 1920, the Chairman reported a net profit of £13,340 for the previous fifteen months, this being apportioned to seven months installation, four months initial manufacture and four months normal production.  In answer to criticism of the financial position he explained that capital expenditure had proved excessive in proportion to the capital issued owing to the enormous price increase in every commodity and wages.  Nevertheless, the directors remained optimistic about the future.

In January 1922, Managing Director Eric May was killed in a motor accident on his way to work, a tragedy that threw the works into confusion.  Then, at the beginning of 1923 a financial crisis emerged.  In March a petition to wind up the company was presented in the Chancery Division by a creditor, the Combined Sheet Metal and Coppersmithing Company.  However, counsel for Cubitts informed the court that negotiations were proceeding and the matter was stood over to await the outcome.  A consulting engineer called in to advise concluded that the selling organisation was deficient, but so far as the Cubitt Car was concerned, it was a thoroughly good proposition although it required certain design modifications.  With regard to the financial position of the company, loan creditors had shown a sympathetic attitude and were willing to give time in order to see whether the concern could be saved from bankruptcy.


1922 Cubitt Model K Tourer,
found in Australia in 1974, repatriated and expertly restored.
Photo courtesy of Bucks Museum, Aylesbury, where the car is on display.


A complicated restructuring scheme was eventually approved by the court, which included strengthening the Board of Directors.  S. F. Edge, the Managing Director of AC Cars and a businessman whose life revolved around motor-vehicles, stepped in to direct the struggling company.  As his company, A. C. Cars Ltd., had more work and orders in hand than they could economically carry out, it was agreed that A. C. would divert work to Cubitts to help increase their output.  Lieut-Colonel J. S. Napier, a talented car designer, was brought in to update technical aspects of manufacturing and improve the car’s design.  He made no drastic changes to the car, retaining the same engine and gearbox, but used an underslung worm-drive rear axle so that the propeller shaft ran lower; changed the final drive ratios; replaced the cantilever rear springs with long semi-elliptics; and used aluminium pistons and lighter connecting rods to improve performance.  Thus the Cubitts’ Engineering Company struggled on.

Delays in delivering new cars had been a problem throughout, so in an attempt to speed up production, which was being hampered by the lack of a steady supply of components from outside suppliers, Edge cancelled the engine order from Anzani and began building engines in-house.  He then had a team of engineers strip down an Anzani engine to make patterns, which were then used to redesigned the exterior slightly to avoid direct comparison with the original.

In 1925 the radiator shape was altered and with sleeker bodywork the redesigned car looked lower and more attractive.

 



Advertisement, The Sketch, 17th March 1920.


THE COLLAPSE OF THE COMPANY

A reasonable number of Cubitt cars were exported (the high ground clearance of the early models found favour in Australia) but despite the efforts of Edge and Napier, home sales remained far short of the number necessary for survival (sales peaked at about 60 per week in 1921).  The eventual demise of the Cubitt
s Engineering Company – and with it the Cubitt Car – came in June 1925, a compulsory winding up order having been made in the Chancery Court on the 23rd June.  At the creditors meeting held in August 1925, the Official Receiver stated that:


The Directors attributed the failure of the company first of all to the fact that the output of cars never reached the minimum number required in order to show a profit, having regard to the heavy cost of production and establishment charges; secondly, to the high power of the car, which did not appear to be in public favour.  There seemed to be a tendency in favour of a car of much lower power than that, and he [the Official Receiver] supposed it was the small buyer who made the profits for the manufacturer.

Bucks Herald, 29th August 1925.


At this meeting the Official Receiver also revealed that, apart from the small profit declared in 1920, the company had made a loss in each year since, the aggregate net loss being £420,026.  In the Receiver
s view the company suffered from a lack of working capital.  And so ended the comparatively short life of the Cubitt Car.  There are various estimates of how many remain, but it is probably less than ten with only one or two being in running order.


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WHAT THE PAPERS SAID

1919

THE CUBITT CAR.
The Northern Whig, 29th May 1919.


I am going to give some little space just now to a description of a new British car.  One cannot give details of every make of car in such a column, but this particular car merits special treatment as the most revolutionary proposition we have had in the British motor trade.

Now what would you have said in pre-war days if you could have bought a full-sized four-seater with a 80 by 140 m.m. four cylinder engine, four-speed gear box, ten-foot-six wheel-base, 815 by 105 m.m. tyres on detachable disc wheels, hood, screen, electric lighting and starting, and usual equipment all for £175?  You would have deemed it a more startling offer than the Ford at £298 or the Overland at £290.  Well, the £175 is about the equivalent of the £298 at which the new 16-20 h.p. Cubitt is being listed, and this price, mark you, in not absolutely final, and after a few seasons’ production it is hoped that a reduction may actually be made, although in these days of uncertain labour and material costs one hesitates to be too optimistic.

Naturally such a car can only be produced at such a price by a concern with large capital and resources behind it, and these essentials are supplied by the well-known engineering and building contractors Messrs. Wm. Cubitt & Co., of Gray’s Inn Road, London, W.C. The builders of the car are the Cubitt Engineering Co. whose large works are at Aylesbury, and their aim is to meet American competition in its own field, but without departing from British ideals as regards design and finish.

Naturally the designer has had to aim at simplicity, but there has been no attempt to produce a car of limited life or of the “just good enough
type.  The chassis as regards efficiency and finish is all that the average car buyer could desire, and the appearance of the complete vehicles is excellent.
 
SOME POINTS OF DESIGN

As I have said, the engine has a bore and stroke of 80 by 140 m.m., which brings it in the 15.9 h.p. class, for which the tax is four guineas.  The engine, like all other parts of the chassis, embodies no unusual features, but follows absolutely standard practice.  The cylinders are cast in one block, with a detachable head casting which includes the water outlet pipe.  The crankshaft has three generous bearings, and so has the one-piece camshaft, which is skew-driven.  Cast-iron pistons are used with two upper rings and one lower scraper-ring, and the connecting rod is longer than usual, with a corresponding reduction in side thrust.  The valves are all enclosed on the near side, and a good point is the automatic rotation of the tappets, which reduces wear to a minimum.  The carburettor is directly attached to the off-side and cooling is by thermo-syphon.  As I have already said, ignition is by battery, coil, and distributor.

The engine is directly attached to the side members of the frame – which are straight throughout – and so is the gear-box, a fabric flexible joint being interposed of a similar type to that fitted to either end of the driving shaft.  The clutch is an inverted aluminium cone with a fabric facing, while the four-speed gear-box has both shafts carried on ball-bearings.

MANY GOOD FEATURES.

The rear axle is of the overhead worm type, and is an excellent example of plain but sound designing.  There is a foot-operated brake behind the gear-box and wire actuated and compensated hand brakes acting inside ribbed drums of the rear wheels.

The springs are long semi-elliptics and those at the rear are shackled forward so that the drive is transmitted to the frame by the rear portion of the spring.  The gear and brake levers, I am glad to say, are not of the central type, but are on the right, being carried on a gear-box extension.

A typical feature is the steering, which is by worm and sector.  Now the usual way of providing for wear at this point is by fitting a whole wheel which can be turned when one portion becomes worn.  Such a wheel is naturally more expensive than a sector only, which is the reason why the latter is most common.  The Cubitt designer, however, gets the same result in a very much cheaper way by keying the worm to its shaft by two keys, so that the worm can be slipped off and turned round, bringing the unworn portion into use when necessary.  Lubrication has been reduced to the simplest possible terms and grease cups have been eliminated, while another good thing for the owner-driver is the use of the easily-cleaned disc wheel.  Altogether a sound chassis on typically British lines at a revolutionary price, the influence of which on the British market must be very considerable.


LOW-PRICED ENGLISH CAR.
New Model to Cost $1,450, with deliveries in September.
New York Times, 13th July 1919


Ever since the armistice the British public has been greatly concerned over the dearth of moderately priced automobiles.  Various announcements have been made from time to time of plans for the production of a cheap but strongly-constructed and efficient light car.

Large-scale production, as understood in the United States, is unknown in Europe.  A near approach to mass production, however, is indicated in the London press announcing that the Cubitt Engineering Company is placing on the market an automobile that is claimed to be the cheapest car yet offered in Great Britain.  The first deliveries are expected to be made in September, and the output is 20,000
[sic] cars per annum.  This 16-20 horse power Cubitt Car will be sold for £298, or about £1,450.  Every part, it is said, will be interchangeable.

 
1920
 

Advertisement, The Bystander, 28th July 1920.


CUBITT,
Stand 424, White City.
Express and Advertiser, 30th October 1920.


For all-round excellence, value for money, combined with smart appearance, there is no finer car than the all-British Cubitt.  One is amazed at such a car so so low a price, i.e. £442.  This car is an example of what British brains can do, backed by sound manufacturing facilities.  The Cubitt works at Aylesbury, Bucks, are one of the best equipped works in the kingdom, and the output during 1920 has been steadily maintained at 50/60 car a week.  In the hands of private owners good results have been obtained from the Cubitt Car.  It is light on tyres, will do 25 m.pr.g., is reliable, and particular attention has been paid to the accessibility of all parts.
 


A MUCH DISCUSSED CAR.
Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 9th November 1920.


The much-discussed Cubitt car is shown on stand 424 at the White City, this being its first appearance at an exhibition.  It is rather extensively changed from the design I saw last year, though outwardly it is the same though better finished.  It has a four-cylinder engine, with bore and stroke of 80 x 140mm. (2815 c.c.), the Treasury rating being 15.9 h.p.  It has battery ignition, a four-speed gear box, cone clutch, with drive to rear axle by worm gear.  Both sets of springs are semi-ellipticals, disc-detachable wheels with 815 x 105 mm. wheels, a 10ft 6in wheel base, and a Rotax engine starter and lighting set are fitted.  The gear box is quite new, and the so-called self lubricating spring shackles have given way to ordinary grease cups.  The car is decidedly improved and if the price has been raised to £442 the value for the difference is ample.  At the moment it is about the cheapest line on the market off its power and, I believe, deliveries are obtainable.


MASS-PRODUCTION IN GREAT BRITAIN.
Truth, 1st December 1920


The results of mass-production of motor cars as discussed at the annual meeting of Cubitts' Engineering Company last week are full of hope for the industry. The meeting was held at the works at Aylesbury, and pressmen and shareholders were thereby given an opportunity to see the methods and machinery by which it has become possible to produce and equip one car for the road for every fifty-five minutes of the working day. Much of that machinery is quite new to this country, and is of extraordinary interest to the engineer. But to most of the observers the work done by the machines appealed still more, for examination of the various parts in the process of manufacture did much to explain the successful results obtained when they are assembled. The Cubitt Car was one of the handsomest models at the exhibition, and after seeing the strength of the parts put into it, and the care with which they are assembled, there in good reason for believing that their reliability is all that can be desired.

 
1921


The Cubitt Car, The Tatler, 13th April 1921.


SECRETS OF PRODUCTION.
EXPERTS VISIT CUBITTS’ WORKS.
Bucks Herald, 27th August 1921.


The issue of The Motor, dated August 17th, contains an exceedingly interesting article concerning the manufacture of Cubitt cars at the large works in Bicester-road, Aylesbury.  The account of a remarkable production is profusely illustrated with photographs of the machine and body shops, also the press shop showing a guillotine and two 200-ton presses, and examples of improved touring model cars.

“It cannot fail to have been noticed by many motorists,” the writer of the article states, “that there are a large number of new Cubitt cars on the road.  The car is rather distinctive in appearance, with its imposing bonnet, round-top radiator and its unusually high ground clearance.  Actually, the number produced so far is a few cars under 4,000, which is remarkable considering that its production was only begun since the war.  It is, we believe, the only British car to be produced by a concern that was not engaged in the motor industry before or during the war, without experiencing any hitch in its manufacture or a financial breakdown.

The latter point, we believe, is regarded in certain circles as the most remarkable of all, for those who should be intimate with factory costs have asserted that a car with so many expensive features and completely equipped cannot be sold at the price of £442 except at a loss.  As this is a matter often discussed, The Motor decided to investigate.  Discarding as absurd the idea that cars were being manufactured at a loss, we decided to see if the Cubitt Engineering Co. had discovered new methods of production, and what really was happening in the extensive works at Aylesbury, into which, so far, few not connected with the company have penetrated.  Thanks to the courtesy of Major P. L. H. Dodson, of the sales organisation in Conduit-street, we were given the fullest facilities for seeing not only how Cubitt cars were produced, but what kind of material and workmanship is put into them.

Cubitt Car chassis, The Tatler, 10th August 1921


Two hours spent in going round the works, which extends a considerable distance back on both sides of the main Bicester-road from Aylesbury, only partly solved the mystery of the Cubitt car, however.  The unusual feature lies in the complete production of practically every part in the works, the only details not manufactured in their entirety being the forgings of which crankshaft and front axle, which are forged by Armstrong-Whitworth, certain malleable castings, and sundry details of equipment such as tyres, frame members, steering wheels, carburettor, sparking plugs, ignition and lighting sets.  The works are provided with their own foundry for making their own castings for cylinder block, gearbox and other parts.  There is the most modern machinery for gear cutting, even the final worm drive being cut, ground and polished in the works.  Not even the wheels are purchased from an outside source, a simple type of disc wheel, which is the subject of an early Cubitt patent, being manufactured here.  It struck us that the works are more self-supporting than any other concern in this country which we have visited, for, with the few exceptions mentioned, the only supplies that go into the factory consist of raw material, which emerges in due course in the form of finished cars, the present output of which, we are informed, is 50 a week.

The chassis side of the production is a street of lofty and well-lighted shops originally erected for war purposes, and acquired by the Cubitt Engineering Co., Ltd., subsequently. Passing the stores where raw material is received and inspected, we come to the milling and turning shop, where there is over £100,000 of machine tools of the very latest type, including a number of Cincinnati milling machines. Adjoining is the boring and milling shop, the automatic machine shop, which is quipped with Porter and Johnson and Grindley automatic lathes, and the grinding shop, provided with the latest type of Blanchard grinders having magnetic chucks.  Two batteries of Fellows gear shapers and Gleason spiral gear cutters are installed.  Every part of the chassis, including the broaching of the gear wheel blanks for the splined shafts on which they slide, all the machining, grinding and other operations, is manufactured throughout here.  It is claimed that only the very best material is used, that for the gears and for the shafts being the first B.N.D.  The crankshafts we noticed were balanced on a special machine.

The wheels consist of a single disc, which is pressed out from the sheet and then riveted to the Dunlop rims, the rivets afterwards being spot welded, so that the disc and the rim are practically homogeneous.  Beyond the machine shop are the foundry, where the various castings are turned out, a pattern shop ― all the patterns are made here ― and a smithy, producing such parts as lamp brackets, etc.  There is a large canteen for the workers, which is provided with a stage, where concerts and entertainments are given by the employees.  Finally, one comes to a separate repair shop, the assembling shop, and the finished sales department.
 
On the other side of the street are the extensive body-building shops.  Here it was noticed that the panelling is not of tin, as some suppose, but of aluminium, every part being stamped out on the two 200-ton presses, including the rounded panels of the back of the body, which hitherto have had to be beaten out by hand.  This press work, of course, gives a very clean finish to the body lines, which have been somewhat improved since the Cubitt was first produced.  The presses stamp out the shells for the radiators, and the discs that form the side members of the wheels.

All the bodywork is made to templates in lots of 500, although special bodies, such as the landaulet we saw going through, can be produced to order, while a new type is an all-weather body.  The bodies are all hand-painted, and a somewhat usual departures in these days is that any colour, other then the standard grey, can be obtained at a charge of £10 extra, one very smart four-seater that we saw going through having been painted a rich purple, the paint for which costs 80s. per pound.  The standard finish is with brass parts, but all these can be plated at an extra inclusive charge of £10, the plating of course, being done in the works.  Some idea of the size of the factory is conveyed by the fact that a number of electric trolleys are used for transporting material and parts from one shop to another.


Cubitt Car’s rear axle, The Tatler, 8th June 1921.


The Cubitt car has a four-cylinder monobloc engine 80 mm. by 140 mm. (tax £16), with detachable head, thermo-syphonic cooling, Rotax electric starting and lighting and coil ignition.  The Cubitt Co. have been one of the first to realise the advantages of the coil ignition system, which we have predicted will eventually become universal.  The mixture is supplied from a Smith single-jet carburettor.  The drive is taken through a fabric-lined inverted cone clutch to four-speed-and-reverse gearbox, thence to an open propeller shaft and overhung worm-driven back axle.  Suspension is by semi-elliptic springs.  The equipment includes five wheels with four Beldam rubber non-skid tyres 815 mm., by 105 mm., Rotax headlamps and very attractive torpedo side lamps.  The car is sold at £442 as a large family four-seater.

Each chassis is given a 50 miles’ road test and a further road test after the body has been added.  Judged from the standard of factory equipment and from what we saw, the work appears to be of a much higher standard than would be associated with cheap production.

We are afraid that these few details will not solve completely the mystery of the Cubitt production, but they will indicate that it is a very real proposition which shows every likelihood of rivalling in importance the largest of the old-established factories in this country, for in spite of these times of depression Cubitt cars are undoubtedly in very great demand.”


REVIEW
The Sligo Champion, 3rd September 1921


. . . . Too many people appreciate a thing when they have to pay for the nose for it, and I fancy that in the case of the Cubitt Car, that wonderful British production selling at £442, the makers are up against something of the sort.  I have heard people in the trade, who have known better, hint that it could only be done by the use of poor quality material, quite oblivious of the fact that any money saved in the purchase of poor quality raw material is more than accounted for in the extra cost of working, not to speak of the trouble and expense caused by a dissatisfied customer. Again the name of Cubitt is an honoured one in other branches of industry, and it is unlikely that they should tolerate the linking up of the name with a questionable product in any branch of business.  Had a little common sense reasoning been brought to bear easily on we should not have the spectacle of people who cursed vigorously now praying for the [Cubitt] agency.

But all this has very little to do with the car on the road, and that is what I set out to write about.  I don't think I have ever had a better opportunity of watching the behaviour of a car under all possible conditions just as if it had been in the hands of an everyday user.  By virtue of a special permit I spent three whole days on the car under varying weather conditions, and everything it was asked to do it did well.  As regards speed great claims are made – indeed the engine could be tuned to go much faster.  A reasonable speed is aimed at, that will make for comfort and at the same time tend to a longer life; yet everyone but a road hog will get all the speed he requires.  Hill climbing is good and petrol consumption, so far as I could judge without making an actual test was reasonable for a car of the size and power.  The springing is found good, even on atrocious surfaces, the semi-elliptics used all over being of ample length to ensure easy riding.  The four-speed gearbox provided gives a gear for any emergency; indeed, the low gear seems superfluous for our roads, as I encountered nothing that could not be taken on second with plenty to spare.  It must not be forgotten, however, that the Cubitt is a quantity production job and finds a big Colonial market, where it is doubtless necessary to have a very low gear for freak conditions.

The bodywork on the car I sampled was the new improved type, quite nicely finished and comfortable.  It is worth noting that on this latest model a Marston radiator has been adopted, and this exemplifies the policy of the firm in getting over any particular trouble by supplying only the best that can be procured.  A Rotax starting and lighting outfit is installed, and the standard finish is French grey and brass, although I understand it is only a matter of a short time until nickel finish can be had as standard; meantime nickel fittings means an additional £10.

The Tatler, 12th October 1921


The lines on the latest model are pleasing, and the illustration conveys a clear impression of robust construction generally.  It must of course be borne in mind that the Cubitt makes no pretence at luxury; the price precludes that, but as a good honest job without
frills, it stands unique as the foremost British quantity car at a low price.  Many people say it cannot be done at a profit to the makers, but the fact remains that it has been done, and when it is remembered that the man principally responsible for the Cubitt has had a lifetime experience in automobile engineering of the very highest class, it must be admitted that he should know almost as much about what can be done as that versatile individual the man on the street.’”


THE STANDARD CUBITT VAN . . . .


. . . . is designed to meet the wants of merchants desiring a ready and reliable means of transporting loads up to 15 cwt. The body is strong and lightly built of three-ply wood and is finished by varnishing only, this leaving the natural grain of the wood exposed, thus ensuring a neat and serviceable finish. To these vans a self-starter is not fitted as standard.


The inside dimensions of the standard body are as follows: length 5ft; Breadth 4ft; Height 4ft.
Price £450.

Advertisement, Western Mail, 18th October 1921

 
1922
 

CUBITT SHOWS A LOSS
Automotive Industries, 26th January 1922


The year
s report of the Cubitt Engineering Co. of Aylesbury, manufacturer of the Cubitt Car, discloses a gross loss of £79,368 up to July 31, 1921, of which £15,749 represents the carryover of the preference dividend to June 30, 1920.  The management has reduced its inventory to current market values and generally has placed matters on a rock bottom price basis.
 

THE CUBITT CAR.
The Western Mail, 4th November 1922.

There is a charm and beauty about the Cubitt that is distinct among cars of this class. The body lines are clean, and possess an air of sturdiness and comfort. Although built to sell at a price which is phenomenally low, it contains all those quantities which make for reliability, long life and comfort. Would be purchasers would be well advised to visit the Cubitt Stand [1922 Olympia Motor Show] before deciding on their 1923 model. Messrs. Cubitt have specialised in one chassis, and have steadily improved it, and the 1923 model will be found as near perfection as humanely possible. It is entirely British built, and thus free from all import duty.

CUBITT.
The Courier, 8th November 1922.

When first put on the market some years ago, the Cubitt was intended to provide a large and comfortable family car at a really low price. It succeeded admirably in this, and with its latest improvements and large reduction in price it has exceeded all expectations. The bodywork has been greatly improved and the rear springs are now on the full cantilever system. The power unit has been greatly refined, and the crankshaft is now dynamically balanced. Four models are shown, the standard five-seater at £360, the deluxe at £495, a two-seater, and an all-weather model.

THE CUBITT.
Yorkshire Post, 7th November 1922.

The Cubitt is the only British car of the larger types which in any way competes with corresponding American vehicles. the result has been obtained without the sacrifice of British principles of construction, and the appearance and general equipment leave nothing to be desired when the price is taken into consideration. The engine is rated at 16 h.p., and an unusual point for a car of this price is that four forward speeds are provided. The body space is generous, and wheels and tyre equipment thoroughly up to their work, and a good electric lighting and starting set, and complete equipment with a full-sized five-seater body is offered complete at £360 complete. This is a remarkable achievement, and while, of course, the finish and detail work cannot be as good as on some vehicles at about double the price, they are quite good, while the design and construction are thoroughly sound. Some people have a peculiar prejudice against British goods which are not of the very highest finish, and would rather buy an American car than a medium-priced home product. I think that many such people would do well to give careful consideration to the Cubitt.

The Cubitt All-Weather Model


OLYMPIA
Nottingham Journal, 7th November 1922.


This exhibit shown in Olympia on the stand of Cubitt Engineering Company, consists of four complete cars of comparatively large size and power on 16-20 h.p. chassis: a standard five seater at £360; a two-seater with dickey at £355; a five-seater deluxe at £490; and an all-weather car at £595.

This latter model has a hood of black rain-proof material which, while it can easily be folded back is rigidly secured and draught-proof when raised. All fittings are nickel with dark upholstery, and the standard body colours are red, green and blue. The doors are unusually wide and open into a roomy interior, and the driver's seat is adjustable to ensure the most comfortable position for adequate control.

The price includes Rotex lighting and starter outfit, adjustable wind screen, head and tail lamps, horn, jack, tools, and spare wheel and tyre.

 
1923
 

OLYMPIA.

The Scotsman, 31st January 1923.


An honest attempt to produce a sturdy British car on quantity production lines at a relatively low cost, the Cubitt has sold well in Scotland during the past year or two. The price of the standard four-seater, 16 hp. touring model, is £360, and it ought to appear to a large section of the public as a family car, with a stout chassis and roomy body. Other Cubitt models are the two-seater at £355, the De Luxe model at £490, and a very finely fitted up all-weather model at £595.

The De Luxe type justifies its extra cost by reason of very complete equipment, including rear windscreen, side curtains opening with the doors, and a fully equipped dashboard. On the road the Cubitt Cars can exceed forty-five miles per hour, and a guarantee of more than twenty miles per gallon petrol consumption is given by the makers.

Cubitt Cars present a typically British appearance, and none of the Americanisms frequently incorporated in cheap machines have been allowed to enter into the specification. A fairly long wheel-base allows the coachwork to be generously proportioned, giving plenty of leg room in the back and front seats.

Western Daily Press, 2nd November 1923.


The Cubitt Cars for which this go-ahead firm have the agency, are recommended because of their reliability, easy running, and low price.  There is another factor which will commend the make to many, and that is that car, tyres, and electrical gear are manufactured under one control and within the walls of one factory.  The coachwork is well carried out, and the body and chassis blend well together and support one another as it were, a feature often lacking about cars with outside supply bodywork.

The open touring cars run from £335; a very fully-equipped five-seater at £385 is to be shown at Olympia; also a two-seater and a limousine saloon which may be used with interior division in place or as a regular saloon – considering that the car is as commodious as the majority of top-sized cars, the price of £550 is a remarkable example of the internal economies effected by sound works organisation, which does not reflect in any way upon the article.  It is pointed out as a clear indication of its merits, that a fully loaded four-seater took part in the A.C.U. sporting reliability run last August, climbing Porlock, Lynton and Beggars' Roost without a falter.

 

The Cubitt All-Weather Model, The Tatler, 30th May 1923.



CUBITTS ENGINEERING CO.
Reconstruction Scheme Adopted.
Sheffield Independent, 4th June 1923.


Meetings of creditors and shareholders of Cubitts
Engineering Company Ltd., have been held in London, when a scheme for reconstructing the Company was laid before all parties concerned.

Sir Arthur Whinney explained the scheme to the four meetings, and in every case a resolution in support of the scheme was passed unanimously by those attending.

Sir Arthur Whinney referred to the remarks contained in his previous speeches at the preliminary meetings, and, in reply to his suggestion that it would be beneficial for motor companies to coalesce in some form or other, he had received several communications, and in one case in particular negotiations had proceeded, and in fact were practically completed.  He also pointed out that the scheme stated that the Board of Directors would be strengthened, and negotiations had practically been completed with Mr. S. F. Edge to act as managing-director to the Company.

Mr. S. F. Edge addressed the meeting of Preference shareholders and Ordinary shareholders, and stated that his company (the A. C. Cars, Ltd.) had more work and orders in hand than they could economically carry out, and after inspection of the Cubitt works at Aylesbury by himself and his technical staff, it was agreed the A. C. Company could divert a considerable amount of work to the Cubitts
Engineering Company, to help provide output for the C.E.C. excellent works at Aylesbury.

Mr. S. F. Edge stated that the Cubitt works were turning out a good car, and he viewed the future with confidence.

 
1924


PROTESTS AGAINST ABOLITION OF McKENNA DUTIES
Bucks Herald, 10th May 1924


Protests directed against the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to abolish the McKenna duties
[4] continue, and Aylesbury Ratepayers Association have joined in the general appeal against such abolition.  A resolution forwarded to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Member for Mid Bucks expressed the Association’s opinion that “great damage to industries concerned and serious unemployment will be caused by cancellation of those duties.”  In the letter forwarded to the Prime Minister the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Members of Parliament, Cubitts Engineering Co. Ltd. state: “We earnestly hope that you will most seriously consider the appeal from our workers.  We view the future with the most serious anxiety unless your further deliberations result in distributing the abolition of this import duty over a considerable number of years.”

Before the introduction of the Budget a decision had been taken to reduce the prices of British cars with the object of further increasing production and thus reducing overhead charges per car.  The new rates, which range from £310 for the 16 h.p. two-seater touring car to £515 for the 16 h.p. landaulette, came into operation on May 1st, but the manufacturers now announce that if the McKenna duties are removed in August as threatened it may defeat their object of increased sales, in which event they reserve to themselves the right to rearrange their prices accordingly.

Saloon-Limousine, The Bystander, 16th July 1924.


OLYMPIA
 

CUBITT CARS FOR FAMILY USE
Western Daily Press, 17th October 1924


A roomy car capable of accommodating a family party with luggage, and with a power and transmission plant which will ensure constant and efficient service under all conditions — these are the claims of the 16 h.p. Cubitt, a British car presenting a new scale of value.  Strongly built throughout it is a car to last, but so well has it been designed that in case of minor adjustments the convenience of the driver or mechanic has been studied in detail.

The Cubitt engine is a single unit with clutch, and there is a four-speed gear box, while the lubrication has been a special care, the final design (positive feed pump of the submerged gear type) securing complete freedom from anxiety in this direction.  The carburettor is automatic.  It is warmed up by an ingenious but well-tried system, ensuring a perfect mixture.  The ignition is by dynamo, accumulator, and coil, with a high tension distributor conveniently mounted and helical worm-wheel driven, as one unit with the dynamo.  The foot brake is easily adjusted and is applied to a drum at the rear of the gear shaft.  It has two loco-type brake shoes lined with Ferodo friction linings.

The springing is excellent, and the body is so designed that neither passengers nor driver experience the least discomfort on even the longest journey.  The Cubitt is a British reply to the challenge of line medium-priced American car, and is remarkable value for money.


THE CUBITT
Belfast Post, 18th October 1924


A 16 h.p. two-seater saloon, limousine, and special touring car, the products of the Cubitt Co., are shown at Stand 19. . . . No drastic changes have been effected in the chassis of the Cubitt but the frame has been lowered considerably, which has very greatly improved the lines of the car generally.  In addition, there have been a few minor modifications.  For example, the bearing surface of the crankshaft has been increased considerably, and the crankshaft itself is of more robust proportions all over, thus reducing vibration.

On the four-door touring car of special type a new design of radiator has been adopted to conform with the lines of the body, and on this car also sliding adjustment seats and extra wide doors are included, while low-pressure tyres form part of the equipment.


A TOUR OF THE STANDS
Dundee Courier, 22nd October 1924.


Probably no car has been more improved in detail, or altered beyond recognition from its first appearance, than the Cubitt, and this year again sees further modifications for improving appearance.  The chassis is built lower, and the car has now a much more handsome and refined appearance.  Several variations in coachwork are available, and a new two-seater model exhibited on the stand has a particularly neat dickey seat arrangement, the lid of which when raised forms a
V windscreen for the rear passengers.  A very handsome saloon limousine is probably the main feature of the stand.  This car, completely equipped, even to a sliding partition between front and rear seats, is a particularly notable example of value at £500.


Miss Dorothy Tetley (actress) in her Cubitt Landaulet.
The Bystander, 11th June 1924.
 
1925.


CUBITTS ENGINEERING Co., Ltd.
COMPULSORY WINDING UP ORDER.

Bucks Herald, 27th June 1925


A petition for the winding-up of Cubitts
Engineering Co., Ltd., having been presented to the High Court of Justice on 10th June last. by the Earl of Dudleys Round Oak Works. Ltd., Brierley Hill, Staffs, creditors of the Company, direction was given for the petition to be heard this week. The matter, there-
fore, came before Mr. Justice Eve in Chancery Court No. 1, on Tuesday morning.

Mr. J. L. Beebie appeared in support of the petition, and stated that he understood that voluntary liquidation was very shortly to take place. If his Lordship would allow the case to stand over for a week it would be desirable. The Company, he understood, was not represented that day, and there might be
arrangements made for the appointing of a creditors
nominee in voluntary liquidation.

Mr. Slade said he appeared for one of the creditors named in the petition and he asked his Lordship to make a compulsory order.

The Judge: Yes, I want to know why there should be an adjournment. Merely to allow them to wind up in their own way: it that a sufficient reason? If any creditor presses for an for an order I will make
it.

Mr. Slade intimated that he did press for an order.

Mr. Beebie: If my friend takes that line, I must ask for an order.

Mr. Jackson said he appeared for another creditor and he pressed for an order.

The Judge: Very well, compulsory order, and the usual order as to costs.

 


Landaulette, Bucks Herald, 3rd January 1925
Remodelled by John S. Napier

 

SALE OF WORKS
Uxbridge Gazette, 27th December 1926


It is announced that early in the New Year the freehold factories at Aylesbury of the Cubitts' Engineering Co., Ltd., will be up for auction.  These properties comprise the motor body works, with 87,000 square feet of floor space, and the motor engine works, with 203,000 square feet.


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British Cubitt Car Designed to Compete
with American Products


The Automobile, 11th May 1922


New British model designed for quantity production to compete with low-priced American cars in the home market.  Has four cylinder 3⅛ x 5
½ in. engine, four speeds, worm drive and cantilever springs.


By M. W. Bourdon


Among British productions the 20-hp. Cubitt chassis is of more than ordinary interest to the American industry, for it represents practically the only serious endeavour by British manufacturers to compete on a price basis in England with low-priced imported cars of the five passenger type.

Although the original Cubitt was introduced in 1919, the usual difficulties connected with the production of an entirely new model were experienced.  Comparatively few cars were made during 1920, and it is safe to say that the output in 1921 did not exceed 40 chassis per week.  Late last year the chassis design was considerably modified.  In size and passenger accommodation this car is to be ranged alongside such American products as the Buick Four, the Essex, Dodge and Hupmobile; in fact, with its 126 in. wheelbase it is rather more pretentious than any of these.  In England its price is on a par with the above cars with the import duty added, for it sells at £467.

Turning to the engineering features, the frame consists of two pressed steel side members, straight and parallel in plan but slightly upturned over the rear axle; cross members comprise a cast malleable latticed member under the radiator, a tubular member on the extensions of which the rear cantilever springs are pivoted, and a pressed steel unit at the rear.  The arms of the separate gearset also serve as a cross member, and to stiffen the front horns of the side members a 1
½ in. cross tube is fitted.


Engine compartment, 1925 Cubitt 1925 Model K


The engine which is supported on the main frame at four points has 3⅛ x 5
½ in. cylinders and therefore a displacement of 170 cu. in.  The L-head cylinder block is formed as a unit in cast-iron with the top half of the crankcase, having integral arms and web extensions to obviate an underpan; the bottom half of the crankcase is also an iron casting.  The detachable head, secured by 17 7/16 in. studs has the water header cast with it.  Water circulation is by thermosyphon, with a cellular radiator having a nickel plated sheet brass casing and a small rear extension tank.

On the left of the engine and enclosed by a full length cover plate, the valves are operated by solid followers of ⅝in. diameter with mushroom ends and hexagon headed studs and lock-nuts for clearance adjustment.  Nickel steel is used for all valves, which have a head diameter of 1⅞ in., stems of ⅜in, diameter and a lift of ¼in.  The valves and followers operate directly in the unbushed cast-iron, but the three-bearing camshaft has separate bushings in the crankcase with journals of 1⅝ in. diameter. The camshaft is driven through helical gearing, end thrust being taken by a flange abutting the rearmost bearing housing.

The crankshaft, machined and ground on the pins and journals only, has three die-cast white-metal bearings; both pins and journals are of 1¾ in. diameter, the front and middle journals being 2¼ in. long and the rear one 3 in.  The I section connecting rods have 12 in. centres, with bronze bushes in the small-ends; the piston pin floats in piston bosses and small-end, a bronze plug at each end preventing cylinder grooving.  The cast-iron pistons have two rings in the crown and a scraper in the skirt, and are comparatively short (3
½ in.).  The generator is driven by helical gearing in the distribution casing and has the ignition unit mounted on it, while the coil is mounted nearby on the crankcase.  The front cover of the distribution casing is of sheet aluminium.  In front of it is located the pulley for the flat belt driving the two-bladed aluminium fan.  On the right of the crankcase is a combined oil-filling spout and breather, also the starting motor with Bendix drive to the light cast-iron flywheel of 15 inch diameter with integral teeth.



 

Lubrication is on the hollow crankshaft system.  The oil pump is of unusual design; it is of the plunger type and is operated by a short eccentric strap from the camshaft.  There is only one spring-loaded ball valve, on the delivery side, a suction valve being eliminated by causing the plunger to uncover inlet ports just before completing its outward stroke, when the vacuum in the pump cylinder draws up oil from the crankcase sump through an external pipe leading from a flanged fitting supporting the cylindrical filter in the sump.  It is claimed that by eliminating the usual ball valve on the inlet side the most frequent cause of trouble with the plunger type of pump is removed, the high pressure on the delivery side permitting a stiffer spring to be used, so that the ball is far less liable to stick off its seat.

The clutch is of the inverted cone pattern with an aluminium male cone faced with fabric; the cast iron female member is bolted to the rear face of the flywheel, the rear end of the clutch shaft carries the front two-armed spider of a double universal joint; the latter is of the type wherein four sets of flexible steel plates, instead of a fabric disk, connect the arms of driving and driven spiders.

Gearset Construction
 

The gearset, as already mentioned, provides four speeds forward; the gear shift lever operates in a gate on the right, being supported by a tubular extension of the cover of the selector mechanism.  The casing is of aluminium with two integral arms of deep inverted channel section extending from the rear end to the side members of the main frame.  Excepting for the pilot, which has a plain bush, double-row self-aligning ball bearings are used throughout the gearset, the primary shaft with integral constant-mesh pinion having two such bearings separated by a distance piece 134 in. long.  Both main shaft and lay shaft are splined, the gear sleeves on the latter being free to float axially but for distance pieces and the presence of the end bearings when the component is assembled.  The main shaft splining is continued through the rear bearing to carry the combined transmission brake drum and spider for the front universal joint of the propeller shaft; to form an abutment for the drum, a groove is turned in the splining of the shaft for a split collar between which and the drum boss the inner race-of the ball bearing is pinched by the tightening of the nut on the shaft end.  To locate and secure the outer ball races of the lay shaft in the straight through machined holes of the aluminium casing, 5/16 in. bolts with extra large round heads pass through holes drilled in the casing so that the heads within overlap the outer race, while the nuts hold steel plate washers overlapping the race on the outside; these nuts also secure the pressed steel end caps.  Although this arrangement eliminates shouldered bores, it appears to open up possibilities for abuse by allowing over-tightening of the nuts to give rise to end thrust on the bearings, for the outer races project slightly within the casing.

The transmission brake back of the gearset is of the contracting type, with the fabric lined shoes actuated by a pair of helical cams on a vertical lever shaft.

Behind the gearset the transmission and suspension layout is unusual, for, in combination with an .open propeller shaft having a disk universal joint at each end, are cantilever springs and tubular radius rods parallel with them over their rear halves.  The rear extremities of the springs have eyes located by pins passing through brackets under the axle casing, while the radius rods have ball joints at each end.  The spring trunnion is a tubular cross member of 2
½ in. diameter.  At their front ends the springs are shackled to the brackets of the brake cross tube.  Ignoring variations in spring centres due to deflection – the springs are approximately flat when loaded – this arrangement provides a parallel motion gear for the rear axle; it eliminates a torque tube and thus reduces unsprung weight; and, although not so neat in appearance as the conventional alternatives, appears to have features of advantage from a manufacturing standpoint.  The rear springs are 48 inches long, have six leaves 2 in. wide and ⅜ in. thick.
 

Top worm gearing forms the final drive with a ratio of 4.125 to 1.  The worm integral with its shaft is carried on ball journals with a double thrust race at the rear end.  The method of locating the latter is unusual, for the central ring of the thrust unit is held against an internal flange of the housing by the threaded end-cap and a locking nut.

The rear axle housing is built up of three main castings with the central portion enclosed by a cover which supports the complete worm gear and differential unit so that the latter can be removed by first drawing out the driving shafts a few inches.  Neither the top cover nor the flanges of the tapered extensions of the casing are pilotted, fitted bolts being depended upon to secure precise location.  The axle is of the full floating type.  The hubs which run on two ball bearings, separated by a distance piece 1 11/16 in. long, are cast integral with the ribbed brake drums.  Transmitting the drive from the splined axle shaft on each side is a peculiar unit which has an 8
½ in. flange located normally between the hub flange and the disk wheel; hexagon headed bolts pass through tapped holes in the hub flange and through clearance holes in the other two parts, the outer nuts being capped and their removal permitting the disk wheel to be quickly detached. To prevent the driving unit coming away with the wheel, set screws hold it to the hub flange.

The wheel brakes are of the internal expanding pattern, cam operated with cable connections in place of rods.  These brakes measure 11 by 2 in.

The steering gear is of the worm and full worm wheel pattern with a ball thrust race above and below the worm, and an adjusting sleeve and lock-nut for taking up axial play of the column.  But no adjustment is provided for the worm wheel and its integral shaft, this unit being mounted in bearings without bushings in the steering gear casing.



 

The drop arm is secured to the squared end of the worm shaft by means of a pinch-bolt passing through its split boss and engaging with a groove across each corner of the square to prevent end movement. Ball joints are used for the drag link, the latter having spring loaded ends interchangeable with those of the radius rods of the rear axle.

 


The front axle is of the usual H section with the swivel pins secured in the ends and jawed and bushed swivel axles.  Ball bearings are used for the front hubs, each of the latter being a unit casting with an outer flange for the detachable disk wheel.  The steering wheel is of 17 in. diameter, the spokes, boss and rim being unit cast in aluminium, the rim coated with black xylonite.  For the throttle only pedal control is provided.

The standard body is a roomy five-passenger, with leatherette upholstery, single panel screen, mahogany instrument board, and the usual folding top with side curtains.  The wheelbase is 126 in., track 54 in., minimum ground clearance 10
½ in., tyre size 815 x 105 mm. beaded edge, and weight of complete car 2600 lb.


――――♦――――


NOTES

 
1.    1919 model:
The body of the car, the most interesting and important item, is a streamline open four-seater, painted a French grey with black mudguards; it is upholstered in dark green, and in fitted with a one-man hood and wind screen.  Five lamps and spare wheel are all provided, together with with very complete tool kit, for the modest sum of £298.

Bucks Herald, 19th April 1919

 
2.   
h.p. – it became common for the name of a model to include both its RAC tax horsepower and its actual power output.  The RAC horsepower rating was devised in 1910 by the RAC at the invitation of the British government.  The formula is:

D x D x N
2.5

where D is the diameter (or bore) of the cylinder in inches, and N is the number of cylinders.  The formula was calculated from total piston surface area (i.e., bore only).  The factor of 2.5 accounts for characteristics that were widely seen in engines at the time, such as a mean effective pressure in the cylinder of 90 psi (6.2 bar) and a maximum piston speed of 1,000 feet per minute (5.1 m/s).
 
3. 1919 model: the specification of this wonderful car embraces the following:— a 4-cylinder monobloc engine with a bore and stroke 80 x 140 m.m., giving a capacity of 2,815 c.c.  There is no magneto, the current being taken to a battery which supplies a coil.  The ignition point is controlled from the steering column by connections which partly rotate the distributor.  The starting motor is secured to a bracket on the crank case by two straps, and engages with a gear cut in the flywheel rim.  A novel oil pressure gauge is placed on the dashboard which is illuminated to show at night.  A very neat radiator is on the car and the cooling arrangements are excellent, being on the thermo-syphon system.  A very excellent gear box is provided, giving four speeds forward and reverse, and the performance of the car in hill climbing is far above the average for cars of this horsepower.  The back axle is driven by an overhead worm drive which ensures quiet running.  The road wheels are another patent of the Company being of the disc variety, which makes the matter of cleaning easy for the owner driver. Many experiments have been made by intentional skids to prove the strength of these wheels, and they have passed all tests with great success.  The brakes on the car are designed with the idea of being effective, combined with longevity and smoothness when applied.  As stated before, the owner driver has been most carefully considered in designing this car and there is not a single grease cup on any part of the mechanism. It is really only necessary to fill with grease the worm gear casing of the steering gear, the sleeve for the pedals, and one or two other important points.

Bucks Herald, 19th April 1919

 
4.    McKenna duties: In September 1915 he introduced a 33⅓% levy on luxury imports in order to fund the war effort. The McKenna duties applied to cinematographic film; clocks and watches; motorcars and motorcycles; and musical instruments. The duties were revoked by Ramsay MacDonald's short-lived Labour government in 1924, only to be reimposed in 1925.


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