Sandy Transport Society

PUBLISHED: 15:02 30 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 06 May 2010

Our meeting at the end of August was a presentation by John Fadelle, a former employee of the Scammell company. John told us about the family history, starting as West Country millers, with a branch of the family moving to London as wheelwrights. At the t

Our meeting at the end of August was a presentation by John Fadelle, a former employee of the Scammell company. John told us about the family history, starting as West Country millers, with a branch of the family moving to London as wheelwrights. At the turn of the 19th and 20th century Scammell moved to bodying vehicles on Foden steam wagon chassis and on Commer motor vehicle chassis. The business outgrew the premises in east London, so taking on new share holders, an enlarged company took on new premises in Watford. The company's production now centred on petrol and oil engined vehicles on their own chassis, although the engines were still bought in, primarily from Gardner. John showed slides of many trucks built by the company, showing a growing emphasis on heavy duty vehicles. Although some designs were less successful, the company's product line attracted many regular customers. A new lightweight three wheel delivery vehicle was designed by the Napier company, but the need to finance their own engine developments say this design sold to Scammell, where it became the successful Mechanical Horse. The oil industry and military needs resulted in rapid developments through the 30's, 40s and 50s. A very close relationship built up with Shell at this time, with a significant investment made in Scammell. By the 60's the motor industry was changing. A close relationship with Leyland opened up access to a wider range of engines, later this was to bring Scammell into the Leyland and British Leyland Motor groups, after the BMC merger. While the Scammell product line gained benefits from the new company, weaknesses elsewhere in the group resulted in political decisions which saw the end of the Scammell operation in Watford. The sale of the company name saw vehicles continue to display the Scammell badge for a few years, with a major military contract on the verge of securing the rejuvenated company's future. Further political interference saw the contract withdrawn, ending the Scammell line. John's inside knowledge of the company, as an engineer directly involved in product development, provided a fascinating insight to the rise and fall of a great British company. The next meeting was last night, Wednesday, October 25 when Dave Soggee spoke about his railway travels.


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