Wolseley: A Very British Car

By Anders Ditlev Clausager. WINNER of the 2017 Michael Sedgwick Award. 2017 review by Guy Loveridge. To most of...

Stirling Moss: The Definitive Biography: Volume 1: 1929-55

By Philip Porter. (Shortlisted for the 2017 Michael Sedgwick Award). 2017 review by Guy Loveridge.   With a living...

Aspects of Motoring History # 13

Published July 2017. 108 pages, colour cover, over 60 black & white illustrations and charts, softbound, and 8 pages of full colour. Contents: Obituary:...

Aspects of Motoring History #12

Published July 2016. 113 pages, colour cover, over 70 black & white illustrations and charts, softbound, and 5 pages of full colour. Contents: The...

SNAPSHOT 90: Clift with Thorn coachwork

The purchase of an 1880s carriage brochure for W. & F. Thorn, coachbuilders of Norwich and London (founded in 1824), came with this unidentified loose photograph of an electric ‘Victoria’. Two leads led up two alleys, one blind and one clear as a bell once you knew what to look for! The blind alley was the known W. & F. Thorn connection to the India Rubber, Gutta Percha & Telegraph Works Co. Ltd., of Silvertown in east London, which made electric landaulettes in 1905-10 bodied by Thorn. These were far more advanced than the ca 1899-1900 appearance of the ‘Victoria’. The other alley required observation of the scene in the image: Thorn carriage photographs show the same background building and the same tilework evident under the ‘Victoria’, so there was no doubt about the coachbuilder. It was then a case of ploughing through sources on electric cars and early journals to see if any had images that matched features on the ‘Victoria’. Luckily Google have scanned all the early volumes of the Motor Car Journal and, lo, the issue for 14 July 1899 on page 302 has a very similar photograph taken in this position of the same ‘Victoria’, the crucial tilework clearly evident. The journal noted that the Thorn-bodied car was by E. H. Clift of the Sinclair Works in Kensington and it had batteries weighing 1,200 lbs with an electric motor of 3 h.p. It even had 3 forward and 3 reverse speeds. It seems the Clift was in production until 1902. Frederic (known as Eric) Hollocoombe Clift (28 Sept 1874 – 22 Nov 1922) was an electrical engineer who had started out at the Cleveland Works in London by 1897 (probably the eponymous factory in Fitzroy Square) but by 1899 was at 51 Sinclair Road in Hammersmith. Here he operated the Kensington Motor Co. Ltd. until 1906. He was an active motorist, aviator, inventor, and marine engineer, later with a marine engine to his credit. His aero instruments, compass, and mapping business grew quite large and was bought by Smiths in 1917. By then Clift was suffering from tuberculosis and his blossoming career fell off a Clift, so to speak.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.