PRINCESS Margaret was full of praise for her hosts when she inaugurated a £2 million extension at the Albion Motors works at Scotstoun, Glasgow. The company, she declared in February 1966, had made a “splendid contribution to the nation’s exports”.

It had a proud record of 66 years in the motor industry, she added. Its output had increased steadily over the decades, and the new extension would be a great success. The Princess then pressed a button to start the production line, a 750ft assembly conveyor that was the longest and heaviest of its type in Europe.

Albion Motors – its radiator symbol was the rising sun, and its marketing slogan was “Sure as the sunrise” – had been a part of the Leyland Group since 1951 and by the time of the royal visit it was selling roughly half of its production abroad.

Sir Donald Stokes, the chairman, told Margaret that Albion, which had been founded in 1899 as the Albion Car Company, was the oldest existing Scottish motor vehicle manufacturer.

The photographs here show an Albion chassis in the early stages of assembly during a trial run of the new conveyor (above) and men at work on cylinder blocks, in 1960 (main image).

The very first recorded shipment from Albion, back in 1901, was an 8 h.p. dog-cart which went to Malaya. From that modest start, exports to Malaya were at the point in 1966 where a single order for 300 lorries worth £500,000 was not unknown.

In 1903 the firm moved to a new plant at Scotstoun, some 200 yards from the Clyde. Its proximity to the docks helped to spur growth. The manufacture of cars in time gave way to the manufacture of commercial vehicles and by 1913 Albion had developed substantial overseas business with such countries as India, Ceylon, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

During the Great War, many of the 6,000 chain-drive, 32 h.p, three-tonne lorries made for the War Office saw service on various overseas fronts. The company continued to thrive in later decades. Valkyrie, Venturer, and Victor buses were market leaders, though trucks continued to be the mainstay of the business.

As the Glasgow Story webpage narrates, Albion became part of British Leyland in 1968, and the “Albion” name was dropped in 1972. In 1986 the Scotstoun works became part of the Leyland DAF group; when the group went into receivership in 1993, the automotive components part of the business was transferred to a new company, Albion Automotives.

On the Urban Glasgow website there can be found this interesting recollection by one contributor: “Became interested in Albion MC about five years ago when I was in a bus station in Fiji and virtually every bus was an Albion, some even with ‘Made in Scotland’ on them, printed below a wee enamel saltire.”

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