It should be recalled that as comparatively recently as 1920 basic working conditions were very different — the man on the shop floor in those days might often be informed that he would be expected to work overtime at a moments notice and however glad he may have been of the opportunity to work overtime he would not be expected to refuse, even if he so desired. Today the foreman may still suggest that overtime be worked but rather more reasonable notice than a few moments is now the accepted rule; today's shop floor worker has also achieved the right to decline the invitation to work overtime in the face of more pressing personal engagements.

 The foreman of the 1920's would suffer acute distress at the very thought of such a state of affairs and would have been still more alarmed at the inability of his successors to blithely postpone the hands' lunchtime until early evening, while some intractable mechanical difficulty would be resolved to the firm's satisfaction. What the reaction of the foreman of 1870 would have been does not bear contemplating, but the claim is worth reiterating that

labour conditions under the company have invariably kept step with the accepted standards and have frequently been ahead of them.
   It is at this convenient point that we should again examine Dorman in its first year of its peace time production still employing a full war time labour force of 2,000 employees and still geared to the production in considerable quantities of internal combustion engines, now, notwithstanding the manifold activities already referred to, which were to be of obvious importance over the next 20 years, a decision was taken at this point to focus all future expansion on the production of petrol and paraffin engines.
   By virtue of their specialised and comparatively lengthy experience in the car engine manufacture Dorman felt ready to respond to the challenge of making more and better engines more quickly and more cheaply than anybody else, an advanced new range of powerful but light and compact engines would now be produced incorporating the accepted principles of aero design — that is, the lessons learnt half a decade earlier from the Adams aeroplane engine.

Core Shop




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CB 14-15 CB 18-19

were to win seventeen gold medals, three silver and two bronze; over the same period on the famous racetrack at Brooklands, one first, four seconds and two thirds were won by the firms engines and one Dorman-engined model was the first to complete the circuit at 100 mph. In 1923 a Dorman engined Westwood car was submitted by the makers to an R.A.C. road test of 10,000 miles taking place in March and April of that year; after running an actual total of 10,024.2 miles in weather and road conditions which appear to have been moderately taxing at least and frequently very bad, the engine was found to be in excellent condition, in the course of the six and a half week trials some ten minutes had been spent in adjusting the dynamo and fan belts, apart from this no repair had been necessary, it was in trials such as this and others that Dorman engines were to gain a certified reputation for power, economy and reliability which was to substantially increase all of the Company's own claims and grow swiftly to enviable proportions.

 It was envisaged that ultimately some 12,000 engines a year would be manufactured by mass production methods, over a total power range of 10-40 b.h.p.; in an age of specialisation in the motor industry, these were to be supplied to chassis manufacturers for eventual installation in complete vehicles, frequently the engines would be supplied as integral units complete with the Dormans gearbox already described; forty seven years after its first venture on to the roads a M. V. Autocrat with a Dorman engine and gearbox arrangement is seen here following its renovation by Dorman apprentices.
   The demand for Dorman engines from chassis manufacturers combined with that from private owners wishing to refit their cars with powerful new engine units led to a period of success for Dorman-engined cars which was to endure for a large part of the twenties and gave rise to the Company's proud slogan "the heart of the car is the engine." During the years 1921-1922 cars with Dorman engines carried out reliability trials over such routes as: London-Lands End, London-Exeter,  and London-Edinburgh, and

Dorman Centenary

Foundry Workers


Autocrat car with Dorman engine.

Palladium car with Dorman engine.

Foundry workers at Tixall Road Works in the 1920s.

Core shop workers at Tixall Road Works in the 1920s.

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