Meldreth's First Car?

Photo:En route to Norwich ca 1949

En route to Norwich ca 1949

Meldreth Community Archive

Photo:Cambridge Evening News 2004

Cambridge Evening News 2004

By Angus Bell

Meldreth’s first car is believed to have been owned by Hubert Ellis.  It was a 1910 Straker-Squire15hp 'Windham' Detachable Tourer, registered at Cambridge County Council as CE 3278. 

Straker-Squire commenced motor vehicle manufacture in around 1901, building steam wagons and later, petrol engined buses. The company was headed by Sidney Straker and L.R.L. Squire, trading as S. Straker & Squire Ltd. of Fishponds, Bristol from 1906-1918, moving to London in 1918 and continuing in business there until 1926. Their first motor cars were built under licence from French-based Cornilleau St Beuve in 1906. However by 1907 they were building cars to their own designs. 

1910 was a landmark year for the company with the introduction of the 15hp model, powered by a four-cylinder, side-valve engine with a capacity of 2,853cc, designed by A.H.R. Fedden who had been recruited from the Bristol Motor Co. The car was conventional in all respects, driving through a leather- covered cone clutch to a three-speed gearbox.  Veteran Car Club records noted it to be a 1911 model with later carburettor and Autovac fuel delivery system fitted.. A dashboard plaque confirmed  original supply by Mitchell's Garage of 114 Wardour Street, London. 

After Hubert Ellis’ death in 1942 his nephew,  John Hitch Ellis, asked John Gipson  to take the car to Meldreth railway station from where it was transported by rail to Norwich. 

The car later passed to Messrs Johnson and Brown of Bromley, Kent, and in later years found its way to the U.S.A where it is believed that some restoration was carried out by the mayor of Colma, San Mateo County, California , Paul Garbini.

In 2004 the car was sold at auction by Bonhams & Butterfields at Quail Lodge CA for $23,989 including premium. Rumours that the car had returned to UK are confirmed by DVLA records (2013) which show that CE3728 is indeed taxed back in its home country.  

Acknowledgement: much of the above technical information is taken from Bonham’s sale catalogue.

Just over a hundred years after the appearance of Meldreth's first car, the village's first electric car was a BMW i3 owned by Jane and Richard Remnant.


This page was added by Angus Bell on 25/03/2013.