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

Introducing Joseph Cockshoot and Co.

Figure 2

Pencil and ink drawing of a dress coach from the early twentieth century

Drawing of the High Sheriff of Lancashire’s coach, built by Cockshoot

Joseph Cockshoot set up as an independent coachbuilder in 1844, before forming a partnership with William Norris in 1851. By the twentieth century the firm had a long history of building quality carriages for Lancashire and Cheshire’s upper-classes, as well as selling second-hand carriages. Examples of the firm’s elegant and high quality work can be found in abundance in the company archives, including the carriage in Figure 2 which was commissioned by the High Sherriff of Lancashire. The firm also won numerous awards, such as the Premier Gold Medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1878. Cockshoot entered the motor industry between 1901 and 1902 by building a few motorcar bodies for clients, before opening a motor department in 1903. By 1907 they had auctioned off their remaining stock of horse-drawn carriages and accessories and were wholly committed to the motor trade, which brought them good business for the rest of their history. The firm became a private limited company in 1895 and public limited in 1959. For Cockshoot, as motor body custom declined they expanded motorcar sales and repairs for which they were successful well into the latter half of the twentieth century. The business was bought in 1968 by Lex Garages Ltd. and by 1970, after 119 years, the Norris family had ceased involvement in the management of the firm.  

Cockshoot are an example of a coachbuilder successfully and rapidly adapting to the rise of the automobile and the decline of the horse-drawn vehicle, although as we have seen in the analysis above many other coachbuilders survived the period as agents and motor body builders. In the following analysis we will explore the firm’s relationship with both customers and early motor manufacturers, the decision to set up the motor department, and set the firm’s actions in context, both regionally and nationally.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/170803/004