Go back to article: Adapting to the emergence of the automobile: a case study of Manchester coachbuilder Joseph Cockshoot and Co. 1896–1939


Today motor vehicles are ubiquitous. Yet at the end of the nineteenth century motoring was a new pastime, and there were only a few hundred motorised vehicles on the road. Many believed motoring to be a fad and motorists faced opposition on many fronts, from local corporations, the police and rural residents. Coachbuilders also had an uneasy relationship with this new technology. Automobile manufacturers and customers required coachbuilders’ skills to build motorcar bodies. Yet the growth of the automobile began to affect the use of horse-drawn transport during the first decade of the twentieth century. This paper will analyse the relationship between the horse-drawn and the motorised vehicle in the UK during this transitional period before exploring the records of Manchester coachbuilder Joseph Cockshoot and Co. that survive at the Museum of Science and Industry Archive. This collection offers a rare insight into the dilemmas faced by coachbuilders in this era of transition. This paper argues that the emergence of the automobile was not a simple matter of technological progress, but involved complex relationships between manufacturers, coachbuilders and customers.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/170803/001