Douglas (Kingswood)

According to a 1974 internal presentation of the history of WB&S:

“The premises of Douglas (Kingswood) were purchased by the Company in 1955 for the transference of the manufacture of Road Brake from the Chippenham Factory. In the taking over of this property the Company also took over the manufacture of the Vespa Moped, which was manufactured by Douglas under licence. (Douglas had been manufacturers of a popular motor cycle bearing the name which had achieved success in sporting fields and the Isle of Man TT races). At this time Douglas were also involved in a considerable quantity of sub-contract work on behalf of Bristol Aircraft. To alleviate the heavy load at Chippenham of the Brake product, certain Brake equipments were subcontracted to Kingswood. Further, Signal Design Offices were accommodated on the property. Eventually this subcontracting of conventional Westinghouse equipment to Douglas ceased and the manufacture of Road Brakes was concentrated upon. For a period of time a type of racking equipment was manufactured and sold by the name of ‘Chevron’ and a Garage Equipment Section was instituted.

“In 1971 an amalgamation was made to form Bendix Westinghouse for the sole concentration of the manufacture of Road Brake Equipment; this remained at the Douglas Factory, Kingswood Bristol; the manufacture of the Vespa Moped ceased and a separate unit was set up at Fishponds, Bristol, called ‘Douglas Sales & Service’ to deal with spare parts and servicing of these Mopeds and other later products.”

Douglas of course had a life before Westinghouse – indeed the glory days came long before the 1955 transfer. Founded by William and Edward Douglas – brothers – in 1882, the Company specialised in the manufacture of motorcycles and for a time even made cars. More information here.

The photo of one of several police forces proudly receiving their new Vespas is one of a small collection of photos in the Westinghouse archive that imply just a little bemusement from elements of the Company at what they had bought! Others include photos of various bits of Bristol aircraft under manufacture at Douglas – including parts of the Brabazon and Britannia.

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