top of page

Pictures from the Heritage Archives

Interesting Cars with Interesting Histories – 3    

The car chosen for our third offering in this series is this dignified 17hp ‘D’ Back saloon. The work of Armstrong Siddeley and their ‘in house’ body shop Burlington Coachworks.   On the 25th March 1935 Canon Critchley and his daughter travelled from Dunfermline in Scotland to the Parkside Works in Coventry to collect this car, fresh off the production line. 


At that time it was quite usual for the owner of a new car to collect from the factory in order to carefully ‘run the car in’.  This term was widely used to describe the careful slower driving undertaken to ensure long mechanical life by avoiding excessive stresses.  Speeds were progressively increased as the mechanical parts bedded down. It was well known that ‘delivery drivers’ were not all as fastidious when shipping new cars around the country to dealers or local garages.  So it was having dealt with the formalities they set off on the 322 mile return trip north and home. One presumes that the journey was split over at least two days.

The car was destined to remain in the ownership of one family over three generations. The vehicle passed from Cannon Critchley to his daughter and her husband George Gardner who unfortunately was involved in an accident at work and lost a leg. To enable him to continue driving, the car was fitted with Feeny- Johnston  special controls for the disabled driver, and incidentally it is understood to be the oldest saloon fitted with additional controls for the disabled which is still on the road.

Controls for the disabled.

In the fullness of time the car passed to their son Michael and his wife Marjorie. By this time the vehicle was rather tired so Michael with his wife set to, and over a period of time, and with much care restored the car to the fine condition that it is still in today. Much use was made of the car and apart from rallies and club events they toured extensively in the UK.                                                                                                           

The car was gifted by Marjorie Gardner into the care of ASHT in November 2014 as sadly some little time previously Michael passed away.


WE at ASHT are proud to be the current custodians, keeping it well maintained, having shown it at events around the country, and are now looking forward to it becoming the centre piece of ASHT’s  ground floor display at the new Armstrong Siddeley Centre.

The trustees and all at Armstrong Siddeley Heritage Trust take this opportunity to wish our readers every good wish for Christmas and New Year.


In this special jotting there follows a version of the story for reading to the younger child.


One day when the car was being tucked in for the coming cold winter weather she surprised us by asking if she could say a few words to any children who might be about. 


What’s your name?

My name’s Agatha. 

Oh!  That’s a nice name, that’s a very old-fashioned name, isn’t it?

But then I am very old. I am 87 and ¾ on Christmas day! Probably older than your grandma or granddad.

 Back in 1935, when I had just been put together at the Armstrong Siddeley factory and was all new and shiny, a man called Mr Chritchley and his little girl called Irene - came all the way from Dunfermline in Scotland to Coventry to collect me.  He was very kind and I knew he would look after me well.  We had lots of nice outings and adventures.


When Irene grew up she married a really nice man called George and I moved to live with them.  One day a little baby boy called Michael joined our family.  I had to go extra carefully and smoothly so as not to wake him.


Many years later when Michael was all grown up he married a lady called Marjorie and we had lots more adventures.  Do you see the little ferry boat in the picture below?  Twice I had to go on that-

 I had my handbrake on really hard and my tyres were holding on to the deck really tight.  It was a bit scary and I was happy when we got safely to the other side.


So you see, till now I have lived with the same family all my life.  My new family, the Armstrong Siddeley Heritage Trust, are proving to be very nice and are certainly making sure I am in tip top condition.

And even though I am an old lady now, I am still looking forward to many new adventures – but Oh I do  hope I don’t have to go on that little ferry boat again!

Nice chatting with you.   Bye!



bottom of page