Andrews’ Bazaar and carriage manufactory was situated on the east side of Above Bar Street about half way between Pound Tree Road and Hanover Buildings: originally no. 14 Above Bar Street but, after a renumbering of the street, no. 58 Above Bar Street. The property was acquired in October 1834. It consisted of messuages in Above Bar Street and at least two pieces of garden ground, one of which adjoined Houndwell Common Field (Southampton City Archives has title deeds - D/Z 139/21 – to part of the property acquired). It was bounded on the east by a piece of garden ground lately sold to Mr Brinton (?John Brinton, builder, of Orchard Lane), on which he built two dwelling houses in Vincent’s Walk. Richard Andrews reputedly spent £10,000 on the ground and buildings in the first ten years. The All Saints parish rate books for 1841 show that on Above Bar Street only the Royal York Hotel, the George Inn and Ogle House had a higher rateable value than the “house, shop and yard, house, office, workshops and carriage repository” of Richard Andrews - £144.19s (Southampton City Archives AG8/3/65).

The ‘Carriage Bazaar’, fronting Above Bar Street, was the public face of the business and, after a virtually complete rebuild in the summer of 1841, was perhaps the finest commercial building in the town. Its entrance was a vestibule 60 feet long and 30 feet wide, enclosed from the street by massive ornamental folded doors, opening the full width of the apartment. The entrance was surmounted by the royal coat of arms and the frontage was finished off with a large recumbent lion. The vestibule opened at its other end into an octagon 60 feet in diameter. Where the octagon commenced, a handsome flight of stairs, springing from the centre and branching off on either side from a landing place, led to a gallery 17 feet in breadth all round, with an open brass railing surmounted by an ornamental skylight in the shape of a dome. At the back of the bazaar was a huge mirror covering the whole wall, adding considerably to the feeling of space. Originally the bazaar was lit by carriage lamps, and later by gas. The bazaar was frequently used for political meetings in the early/mid nineteenth century: an Anti-Corn Law meeting in February 1842 attracted an audience estimated at over 3,000, with more than 2,000 in the bazaar (cleared of carriages) and almost 1,000 in the gallery (Hampshire Independent, 12 February 1842).

The workshops, at the back of the bazaar, were in contrast a melange of wooden structures, added to piecemeal as the firm expanded. It was not until 1869, a decade after Richard Andrews’ death, that purpose-built workshops were provided. The foundation stone was laid on 18 December 1869, coincidentally the anniversary of the founder’s birthday. Mr Steptoe, foreman of the works and 34 years an employee, spoke of the time when “it was but a small place … far different from what it is now; as the trade grew it was enlarged, and so it had gone on growing and increasing until now it had outgrown itself”. He also felt “a dearness to him in every niche and ruggedness in it” (Hampshire Independent, 22 December 1869). The architects of the new factory were Guillaume and Parmenter of Marland Place and the builders Messrs Brinton and Bone. The new building was 60 feet square internally and 60 feet high. It comprised three floors, the upper a trimming and painting loft, the second a designing and body-making department and the ground floor a storage room. A large lift traversed the whole building, facilitating the removal of carriages from one floor to another. Between 200,000 and 300,000 bricks and nearly two tons of timber were used in the building (Hampshire Advertiser, 20 April 1870).

The vestibule, octagon and brick workshops can be seen in a Goad insurance plan of the late 19th or early 20th century (February 1893). To these have been added a smithy, wheelwright’s shop and timber stores (Image 3). The Andrews family vacated the premises in 1920, by which time the business had been turned over to motor body building and general garaging. The business was re-established at No. 7 gate in Southampton docks, specializing in the servicing of cars being shipped abroad. The front of the Above Bar building was redesigned as a Marks and Spencer’s Bazaar, with Woolworths Bazaar to the north and British Home Stores Bazaar to the south. The rear section along Vincent’s Walk was occupied by Hendy’s Garage. The whole was demolished in 1934.

Two contemporary descriptions of the works are given below. The first is from a sequence of articles on ‘The world’s workshops’ printed in The Expositor. Headed ‘Carriage building. Manufactory of Richard Andrews, Southampton’ it appeared in an issue in March 1851. A preface noted the large contemporary market for carriages, with 20,447 four-wheeled private carriages and 28,474 two-wheeled carriages assessed in 1849 and 41,621 carriages let for hire in the same year. Given ten years as the average last of carriages, the yearly number built for home use was estimated at above 9,000. The average cost of keeping a private carriage was estimated (according to Mr Porter) at £100 a year. Carriage-building was categorized as an art-manufacture, employing in many of its branches art-workmen, and requiring in every department the exercise of superior skill. A manufactory such as that of Ricard Andrews was contrasted with those of a great number of carriage makers who were, in reality, only putters together of the parts of carriages, employing small tradesmen, called Piece Masters (who carried on single branches of business and these often on a very limited scale and with but slender stock of materials) to make for them.

The factory, to every department of which we were most obligingly admitted, and every minute detail of the work of which was with most pains-taking patience explained to us, is one of the most extensive in the kingdom, employing about two hundred hands, and making, with the exception of axles, which are said to be best made in London and Sheffield, nearly every portion of the carriages on the premises.

The departments into which the factory is divided are The Timber Store, The Body Loft, The Smith’s Shop, The Carriage Loft, The Wheeling Shop, The Priming Loft, The Painting Shop, and The Trimming Loft.

The making of a carriage commences in the body-loft … where it is the business of the foreman to draw out with chalk, on a large smooth black board, the complete design, full size of the carriage to be built. He must, therefore, have a good knowledge of geometric curves, and be a ready draughtsman, with a quick eye for proportion, form, and the tasteful adaptation of parts to each other.

The sketch approved, the foreman then cuts out a pattern of the carriage from the chalk drawing in thin pieces of wood, to guide the workman’s saw and plane, precisely in the same way as the paper pattern guides the scissors of a dressmaker or tailor. These thin wooden forms are technically called the “cant”…. The necessity for them exists in the fact that almost every part of a carriage is made up of sweeps and curves, which, with the view to its elegance when finished, must be accurately observed in every portion of its construction.

The “cant” completed, the foreman and body-maker proceed to the timber-store … and , with the patterns in hand, mark out the wood which, from natural bend, dimensions, and direction of the grain, will cut to most advantage for the carriage both as to shape and strength. The marked pieces are then sawn out from the planks, one edge straightened and squared, and the sweep moulded out, and smoothed by the use of six compass and three concave planes suited to the several curves. Having his timber so far formed, the body-maker again applies the “cant” to mark his tennents, which, it will be easily understood, must be cut at different angles to suit the several curves. The mortices are then marked from the tennents [and cut]; these being completed, [the body-maker] frames the sides and then following the “cant” with the utmost care, so as to have the exact contraction or curved narrowing of the body, he mortices and tennents the cross bars. The framing thus completed, the boot, if the carriage is to have a fixed one, is fitted; if not, the side of the body is nicely rounded off, according to the sweep of the “cant”. The frame being thus as it is called rounded up, and every sweep found to run smooth, and true to the “cant”, the next operation is to cut the grooves into which the panels are to be fitted. This is called routering, and is done with a sort of plough, of which three are used in succession, called the Fence Box and Pistol-router. The parts of curves which the form of the carriage has rendered overlight to be trusted to the strength of the timber alone, or which, from being cut out of the solid, have the grain across, are then fitted with iron plates, at which two men are employed; and the framework of the body, after another careful examination, is finally fastened together with oak-pins through the tennents and mortices, assisted where additional strength is needful by iron screws. The mahogany board, quarter inch thick, for the panelling, is then selected with care to have it free from knot or flaw, and the bottom quarter and back panels are planed up and bent to the needful curvature by being held in front of a stove, or over a bar of red-hot iron, whilst the opposite side, showing the men at the forge in our engraving, is wetted with a sponge. The panels are then fitted, commencing with the bottom quarter, the part of panel fitting into the groove being completely covered with a preparation of white lead. The roof boards have then their edges fitted, are fixed on in a rough state, and, with the exception of the roof, the entire inside of the carriage is covered with a coarse canvas completely saturated with glue. The body is then turned upside down, and the roof lined, “blocked” as it is called, with small squares of wood of about half an inch in thickness, placed with spaces like one set of the squares of a chessboard, and so that the grain of the blocks is across that of the roof boards, so as to prevent the joints opening from any jar or shrinking of the roof.

The body is now complete in the rough, and is cleaned down with steel scrapers, files, and sandpaper.

The top quarters, back quarters, and roof then have two coats of a composition of white lead and gold size for the purpose of closing the grain of the wood and giving it a perfectly even surface. These same parts are then covered with paste and an ox-hide thoroughly well tanned, and by a peculiar process rendered so soft that it feels almost like jelly, but can be stretched in all directions, is what is technically termed sleaked on, that is, is strained with perfect evenness, so as to have neither seam, nor join, nor wrinkle, nor crease, nor difference of thickness over the top, back, and upper quarter panels. The leather, pulled taught with pincers, is fastened at the edges with small tacks, which are afterwards covered by the beaded mounting; and the doors are only then wanting to complete the body.
We have all through been describing the construction of covered carriages. In open carriages, there being no fixed top, there is no leather sleaked on, and there is frequently also no door; and in skeleton and spider phaetons there is no panelling.

In the mere make of the door there is nothing to describe: those of the best carriages are hung on a species of hinge, known in the trade as the concealed hinge, and which has a fair title to the name, as it is not only hidden when the door shuts, but was for several years unknown amongst carriage buyers, and even amongst a large number of makers. The advantages of its use are not confined to appearance: it throws the door further back by its whole thickness of from two and a half to three inches, by so much, therefore, narrowing the door space, shortening the body, and lightening the draught. In addition to the latch, the doors of best carriages are secured when closed by a dovetail fastening. The bolt of this dovetail would not shut into its groove if the carriage door varied from its position, or were in any direction strained or warped to the extent of one sixteenth of an inch; and that such minutely-fitting fastenings are largely used is the best evidence of the care exercised in the construction of carriages, which, in all weathers, wet and dry, hot and cold, are to run at all speeds, over all sorts of paved, macadamized, and rough country roads.

The timbers used in carriage-building are for the most part of English growth: Ash, Elm, Oak, Beech, Birch, Sycamore, and Poplar. American Ash, Birch, and Fir, are also made use of, as well as Mahogany, Cedar, Teak, Lancewood, and Hickory. The timber store forms an important feature in a carriage manufactory. It is impossible to build carriages which will bear the wear and tear of roads and climate, unless the timber be well chosen, well weathered, well piled in store, so as to allow of free current of air to all parts of it, and there kept long. A carriage-builder must have a large stock of woods, and be in no haste to use his recent purchases.

The second abstract is from George Measom, The official illustrated guide to the London and South-Western Railway, [1864], pages 403-7.

The Carriage Works of Mr Arthur Andrews, Above Bar

The timber used in carriage-building is mahogany, cedar, pine, teak, hickory, lancewood; American birch, ash and elm; English oak, ash, elm, sycamore, and poplar.

The making of coaches and carriages is a highly skilled department of manufacture, the timber, iron, leather, brash and plated metals are wrought by wholly distinct bodies of operatives, and there are many minor divisions of each class. The “body-makers” produce the vehicle or body itself, while the “carriage-makers” are employed on the stouter and stronger timbers beneath and around the body. The tools and processes are often similar to those in cabinet-making, but some are peculiar to coach-making]. It is usual in many carriage manufactures to give out certain portions of the work, but here each portion of the carriage, in every important detail, however minute, is made at the works, subject to the vigilance and control of the principal, who superintends the manufacturing operations with untiring assiduity.

The design of a carriage is first drawn in chalk; afterwards wood patterns are fitted to the curved lines, and by these patterns much of the carriage is built. The framework of carriage bodies is always constructed of English ash, of a light nature, put together in a skeleton form; the panels, of Honduras mahogany, are fitted into grooves made in the framing; the floors and footboards, of pine and elm, are screwed into rabetts; and the roof, if the carriage be close, is covered with light mahogany boards. A large wet hide of undyed leather, called russet leather, is then placed upon the roof, and down the sides and back of the body as low as the centre: this is moulded by pressure exactly to the form of the roof and panels intended to be covered, and when dry is painted and japanned. The framework of a carriage (which coachmakers understand to mean all that framing below the body designed to connect the springs, axles, body, pole, or shafts, according to the construction of the vehicle) is of stout-natured ash, firmly framed together, gracefully swept, and when duly plated with iron, is always neatly and sometimes elaborately carved. The lock (the part of a carriage which regulates its facility of turning) requires to be very judiciously arranged; and since low vehicles have become fashionable, much attention has been paid to it, with the view of making short carriages, having bodies near the ground, and high front wheels, to turn well in narrow streets. The Wheelwrights’ work is an important part of the manufacture, for a carriage-wheel should be firm and solid in its joints, though slightly elastic from its conical form, and strong from the combination of its parts, but light in weight and appearance: the nave or centre should be of elm; the spokes, or radiating bars, of cleft oak sapling; the felloes, or segments forming the rim, of tough ash, and the hoop or tire of iron or steel, the latter being now much used by this firm.

[Arthur Andrews is the son of Richard Andrews.] He employs over two hundred hands; and from the date of establishment [1829] to the present time 5,500 carriages have been made in these works, amongst them many for Her Majesty and the late Prince Albert, several of them being specially ordered for presents to foreign potentates. Besides an immense foreign trade in all parts of the world, Mr Arthur Andrews having specially selected various foreign and English materials peculiarly adapted for this class of work, and innumerable letters from various climates show how successful he has been in making English carriages popular where they were almost useless before.

Specimens of every kind of carriage may be seen here, from those of elaborate and expensive workmanship, suitable to persons in the enjoyment of large incomes, to the modest and unpretending vehicle adapted to the wants of those with less means. The same good taste in design applies to all descriptions of carriage, and the visitor will be fairly puzzled to make his choice where there is so much variety, and where the same nicety has been shown to produce first-rate articles.

1. Andrews Coach Factory, Above Bar

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Philip Brannon’s print of c.1850 showing the coach factory on Above Bar Street

2. Andrews Coach Factory c. 1893

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The coach factory as shown on a Goad insurance plan sometime after 1893


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