When the Triumph Motor Company had a Sheffield owner

A 1939 Triumph Dolomite. Image: Classic Driver

It wasn’t that long ago that Triumph cars populated our roads. Sadly, the Triumph marque disappeared, but not many people realise that the car company once had its head office in Sheffield.

Triumph’s origins were in 1885 when Siegfried Bettmann and Moritz Schulte from Germany founded Bettmann & Co and started selling Triumph bicycles from premises in London and from 1889 started making their own machines in Coventry.

In 1930 the company changed to the Triumph Motor Company and made upmarket models like the Southern Cross and Gloria ranges. The company had financial problems and in 1936 the car, bicycle and motorcycle businesses were sold.

Donald Healey, a Triumph manager, bought the motor business and developed a new car called the Triumph Dolomite.

1938 Triumph Dolomite mascot

The Triumph Motor Company went into receivership in 1939 and was bought by T.W. Ward, the Sheffield-based ship-breaking, iron, and machinery business. The head office was at Albion Works on Saville Street, but it wasn’t a successful acquisition. World War Two stopped production of cars and the Triumph works at Priory Street, Coventry, was destroyed by bombing.

“The Triumph Company was to us merely a plain straightforward speculation,” said Mr S.J. Dyal, a director. “And because of the outbreak of war we really did not have the chance of continuing car production. We had no manufacturing space, and as a policy decision it was agreed that car production was not to be our line of business. So eventually the assets – little more than the name Triumph – were eventually taken over by The Standard Motor Company.”

Donald Healey stayed on at T.W. Ward before leaving to join Vickers-Armstrong in aircraft production.

Albion House, Savile Street, Sheffield. Former head office for T.W. Ward and briefly for the Triumph Motor Company. Image: Rightmove

Under ownership of the Standard Motor Company a new range of Triumph models appeared after the war. Sporting models were badged as Triumph while the Standard name appeared on saloons. The Standard name was dropped with the introduction of the Triumph 2000.

Afterwards, the company was bought by Leyland Motors and further mergers led to the formation of British Leyland (later Austin Rover) in 1968.  The last Triumph produced was the Acclaim in 1981 and the marque disappeared completely in 1984.

The trademark is currently owned by BMW, acquired when it bought the Rover Group in 1994, and when it later sold Rover, retained the Triumph marque.

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