The Thrupp & Maberly Story

John Maberly and his brother Stephen were born into a family which had been in the leatherworking trade for several generations and they in their turn became curriers, the skilled craft which makes the tanned hides fit for use. Sometime around 1760 they set up a curriers business in Little Queen Street, Holborn, an extension of Longacre, which runs east from Leicester Square and was a well-known centre of luxury trades.

A coachpainting business was also established at the same address. However in 1780 the premises were burnt down in the Gordon Riots after which the coachpainting business moved across town to Welbeck Street in Marylebone (near Regents Park) and the curriers business to nearby Castle Street.

Two generations later, in 1858, George Maberly joined with George Herbert Thrupp to found the company of Thrupp and Maberly Ltd. The prestigious firm of Charles Thrupp and Co had been building coaches in London since 1760 and had showrooms in fashionable Oxford Street.

The nineteenth century was the pinnacle of horsedrawn carriage making with some half million in use by the end of the century and Thrupp and Maberly established themselves as one of the leading manufacturers with a reputation for quality and innovation.

With the invention of the motor car Thrupp and Maberly adapted quickly and were soon in the forefront of vehicle bodybuilders at a time when vehicle interiors, like carriages, were individually designed to the owners' specifications. The business thrived and a number of competitors were bought up. In 1924 the firm was forced to move to larger premises in Cricklewood in north-west London (near the end of the current M1 motorway) and concentrated on coachbuilding for Rolls-Royce and other large vehicles.

However in 1925 the company was absorbed into the Rootes Group, the first of many famous motoring names to be acquired. Until the second world war it carried on much as before but after the war the traditional handcrafted coachbuilding was abandoned in favour of mass-producing bodies for the more upmarket Rootes marques such as the Humber and Sunbeam-Talbot.

In 1928 the company offered to build the body for the Golden Arrow racing car which, driven by Sir Henry Segrave, broke the World Land Speed Record on Daytona Beach at 231 mph. in front of 100,000 spectators.

More and more the company became an integral part of the Rootes organisation, finishing body shells produced elsewhere in the organisation and passing them on to the main factory in Coventry. A nearby factory in Warple Road, Acton, inherited when Rootes took over Talbot, was occupied by Thrupps in 1936.

The end came in 1967 when a rationalisation transferred the work done by Thrupp and Maberly to the main Rootes factory in Coventry. The factory closed its doors in August, 1967 and was sold off.