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Madelvic Motor Factory

Remains of the oldest purpose-built car factory in the UK, opened 1898 by the Madelvic Motor Carriage Co which built electric vehicles


Region:
Edinburgh
Red Wheel Site:
Yes
Transport Mode(s):
Road
Address:

Madelvic House, Granton Park Avenue, Granton, Edinburgh EH5 1HS

Postcode:
EH15 1HS
Visitor Centre:
No
Website:

About Madelvic Motor Factory

The Madelvic Motor Carriage Company was founded by William Peck, Edinburgh City Astronomer.
The Madelvic car factory opened in 1898, and is the oldest purpose-built car factory in the UK.

The vehicle first built there, an electric powered car driven by an extra, fifth, wheel under the vehicle, was not capable of any great speed and did not prove popular. This was despite efforts to promote the vehicles, including exhibiting at the Edinburgh Cycle Show in February 1899. "See the very latest type of motor vehicles... Early orders are necessary to ensure delivery this year" said their advertisement.
However, designs were improved and by May 1899 the company had been awarded a contract by Her Majesty's Postmaster General for carrying mail between the General Post Office in Edinburgh (Waterloo Place) and Leith. They built at least three electric vans for the purpose, and the service was started on 14 May. These were the first motor vans used by the postal service in Scotland.

Unlike the first cars, the electric motors drove directly onto the front axle, without any belts or chains. The vehicles had a tubular steel chassis, and weighed about 18 cwt (900 kg). They were capable of carrying over half a ton of mail (500 kg) on a route that included the steep slope of Leith Street. The power was supplied by accumulators (rechargeable batteries) located at the front of the vehicle.

The vans were described at the time as resembling the existing horse-drawn vehicles except that they had steel wheels with wire spokes. They were painted in Post Office colours - scarlet picked out with gold and black, and with the Royal arms and Royal monogram (presumably "V R") surmounted by crowns.
The fact that the company had been over budget before opening meant that money problems were inevitable. The company went into Voluntary Liquidation in December 1899, and on 9 May 1900 their works plants, material stocks etc were auctioned.

The assets were bought by the Kingsburgh Motor Company but soon they too were in trouble and the business had to be sold to Stirling Motor Carriages. Madelvic production was stopped and Stirling began making their own marque at Granton from 1902. In 1905, a consortium of Peck, Kingsburgh and Stirling began trading from Granton as the Scottish Motor Engineering Company.

In existence for only about two years, they closed down in 1908. Granton Engineering took over but they also folded. In 1912 another company, Caledonian, built taxi cabs there for two years until they too closed. During World War I it was used for storing torpedoes. United Wire, the next tenants, came to Granton in 1925, using the office block only as their administrative centre. Wire production did not start there until 1939 and the onset of the Second World War.

The site was abandoned and in a derelict state for some years.

Current planning approval: Community garden on existing brownfield site, comprising a biodiversity garden, raised community growing beds, two shipping containers for artists materials, a summer house, bark chip footpaths, and new timber perimeter fence with access gates (temporary consent for a period of 5 years). Approved 15/6/2017 - valid till 14/6/2022
There are ambitious plans for redeveloping the waterfront at Granton - currently in proposal / consultation stage

The site's Grade B listing reflects social and historical importance rather than architectural merit.

The National Transport Trust 's Red Wheel heritage site plaque was erected in early September 2021 during the Covid pandemic - a formal unveiling ceremony will be arranged as soon as convenient.

By road: Off A903, three miles north of Edinburgh

£1.3bn regeneration plan unveiled for Granton Waterfront£1.3bn regeneration plan unveiled for Granton Waterfront

Adeney, M., The Motor Makers: The Turbulent History of Britain's Car Industry, Harper Collins, ISBN-10: 0002177870 (1988)

Church, R. A., The Rise and Decline of the British Motor Industry, Cambridge University Press, ISBN-10: 0521557704 (2008)

Culshaw, David, Complete Catalogue of British Cars 1895-1975, Veloce Publishing, ISBN-10: 1874105936 (1998)

Dunnett, P.J.S., The Decline of the British Motor Industry, Routledge, ISBN-10: 0709900120 (1980)

Nicholson, T.R., The Birth of the British Motor Car, 1769-1897, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN-10: 0333327179 (1982)

Oliver, G., Motor Trials and Tribulations - A History of Scottish Vehicle Manufacture, HMSO, ISBN -10 01149 51713 (1993)

Richardson, K., The British Motor Industry 1896-1939, Macmillan, ISBN-10: 0333219252 (1977)

Varey, Mike., 1000 Historic Automobile Sites, Elderberry Press, ISBN-10 19308 59500 (2003)

National Transport Trust, Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey KT10 0SR