I had a nice set of Allen’s photos from Mr W.T.C. Stephens many years ago with a good deal of history of the company. This image shows the 1928 Chevrolet Show staged by Allens inside their premises by the bridge.
Note the house that was retained inside the workshop area. It was eventually demolished. This image shows an Armstong Siddeley left with a Star on the right. The later production A.S. Sapphires of the 1950’s are considered to be some of the best British cars ever made.
The Chevrolets were imported by Allen’s crated in kit form and put together in Taunton.
The show included a Chevrolet Curtis single horse box with side ramp together with Chevrolet trucks and cars. Allen’s were founded in 1796 operating as a small wheelwright and agricultural business at Tone Bridge Foundry. Later came the development of gas oil engines and the entry into the newly founded motor trade.
From 1906 until 1908 Allen’s built their own cars powered by French built De Dion Bouton engines as the UK found itself lagging behind French and German motor technology. The company styled itself as The Chassis Construction Company. ( CCC ). The Chevrolets were imported after WWI by Allens only one of four such importers in the UK. In time this led to Allens becoming Vauxhall dealers via General Motors. Allen’s were under Government contract in WW1 for transport in food production. They employed 30 soldiers unfit for service to run the vehicles. An old Argyl was used to carry petrol cans for the tractors.
The Stephens family had a long association with Allens. William ( Bill ) joined the company in 1926 earning three shillings for a fifty six hour week. Bill’s brother and father both worked for the company now styled as C. Allen and Son Ltd.
Bill eventually became foreman of the Quick Service Dept. after forty eight years service. The company outgrew the Bridge Street site and moved to Staplegrove in 1969.
By Nick Chipchase