Tuesday 3 June 2008

More questions on Penn's

I have had a request from the Coventry Transport Museum for more information on John Penn - I will of course put them in touch with Richard Hartree and tell them about his new book. He is looking for employee records and any information about William Hillman who went made a fortune from cycle manufacture and started the Hillman Motor Company after - of course - being an apprentice at Penn's in Greenwich. They also point out both James Starley (father of the cycle industry) and George Singer (of Singer Cycles and Cars) started their working lives at Penns.
Everything starts from Greenwich - I always said so!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well we've been doing a bit more research at Coventry Transport Museum and there does seem to be many links back to Greenwich, Lewisham and of course John Penn & Sons. It's just interesting that James Starley started out as a Gardener for John Penn, but while doing so was also very inventive, developing prams and fixing clocks and sewing machines. It was while fixing John Penns wife's sewing machine that Penn himself saw Starley's capabilities, and got him a job at Newton Wilson & Co. Then later he, Josiah Turner and the American S. C. Salisbury set up the European Sewing Machine Co. in Coventry. Turner's nephew, Rowley B. Turner was managing the sale of these machines in Paris and heard of these novel modes of transport - velocipedes being built. He took one back to Coventry and Turner and Starley began making them - the rest is history. But because of that, Starley brought both Hillman and Singer to Coventry from John Penn and sons, and no doubt others followed. From this, the British cycle and motor industry was born in Coventry.
Damien Kimberley - Coventry Transport Museum.