For the shipbuilder, see John I. Thornycroft & Company
John I. Thornycroft & Company
John I. Thornycroft & Company Limited, usually known simply as Thornycroft was a British shipbuilding firm started by John Isaac Thornycroft in the 19th century.-History:...

, for other uses, see Thornycroft (disambiguation)
Thornycroft (disambiguation)
Thornycroft can refer to:In people:*Thomas Thornycroft, a British sculptor*Mary Thornycroft, a British scupltress, wife of Thomas*Hamo Thornycroft, a British sculptor, son of Thomas and Mary...

Thornycroft was a United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

-based vehicle manufacturer which built coach
Coach (vehicle)
A coach is a large motor vehicle, a type of bus, used for conveying passengers on excursions and on longer distance express coach scheduled transport between cities - or even between countries...

es, bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

es, and truck
A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration, with the smallest being mechanically similar to an automobile...

s from 1896 until 1977.


Thornycroft started out with steam vans and lorries. John Isaac Thornycroft
John Isaac Thornycroft
Sir John Isaac Thornycroft was a British shipbuilder, the founder of the Thornycroft shipbuilding company and member of the Thornycroft family.-Biography:He was born in 1843 to Mary Francis and Thomas Thornycroft....

, the naval engineer, built his first steam lorry
Steam wagon
A steam wagon is a steam-powered road vehicle for carrying freight. It was the earliest form of lorry and came in two basic forms: overtype and undertype – the distinction being the position of the engine relative to the boiler...

 in 1896. Thornycroft's first petrol vehicle was built in 1902 and the company completed the move into internal combustion engine power in 1907.

Thereafter the vehicle building firm and the marine side (later to become Vosper Thornycroft) were separate companies.

From 1931, Thornycroft used names for their vehicle range - descriptive and colourful ones.

In 1948, the company name was changed to Transport Equipment (Thornycroft) Ltd to prevent confusion with the shipbuilding Thornycroft company. The company was well-known for providing fire-engine chassis, with multi-axle drive for uses such as airports.

They were taken over by AEC
AEC (Associated Equipment Company)
AEC was a United Kingdom based vehicle manufacturer which built buses, motorcoaches and lorries from 1912 until 1979. The acronym stood for the Associated Equipment Company, but this name was hardly ever used; instead it traded under the AEC and ACLO brands.While famously associated with London's...

, by then Associated Commercial Vehicles Ltd, and production was limited to Nubians, Big Bens and Antars. ACV was then taken over by Leyland who already had a specialist vehicle unit in Scammell, another manufacturer of large haulage vehicles. Thornycroft's Basingstoke
Basingstoke is a town in northeast Hampshire, in south central England. It lies across a valley at the source of the River Loddon. It is southwest of London, northeast of Southampton, southwest of Reading and northeast of the county town, Winchester. In 2008 it had an estimated population of...

 factory was closed in 1969 and specialist vehicles transferred to Scammell at Watford
Watford is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England, situated northwest of central London and within the bounds of the M25 motorway. The borough is separated from Greater London to the south by the urbanised parish of Watford Rural in the Three Rivers District.Watford was created as an urban...

. The factory continued as an engineering works until the late 1980s when it was demolished to make way for a supermarket. The Milestones Museum
Milestones Museum
Milestones Museum is a museum located in Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK. It is made up of a network of streets that have been recreated on those found in Victorian and 1930s Hampshire....

 is located a few hundred yards from the original site in Basingstoke
Basingstoke is a town in northeast Hampshire, in south central England. It lies across a valley at the source of the River Loddon. It is southwest of London, northeast of Southampton, southwest of Reading and northeast of the county town, Winchester. In 2008 it had an estimated population of...

 and houses a collection of Thornycroft vehicles and other exhibits, mainly transport related.

Today, the Thornycroft name is used by a builder of marine diesel engine
Diesel engine
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber...

s for private and light commercial use, the engines being based around small-capacity engines designed by Mitsubishi
The Mitsubishi Group , Mitsubishi Group of Companies, or Mitsubishi Companies is a Japanese multinational conglomerate company that consists of a range of autonomous businesses which share the Mitsubishi brand, trademark and legacy...

. Despite Thornycroft being effectively closed down by Leyland, the operation's parent company is now the main provider of spare parts for Leyland-built
British Motor Corporation
The British Motor Corporation, or commonly known as BMC was a vehicle manufacturer from United Kingdom, formed by the merger of the Austin Motor Company and the Nuffield Organisation in 1952...

 marine diesels, which for many years were highly popular for use in canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

 barges and narrowboats (now a market making increasing use of modern-day Thornycroft engines).


  • "Type J" 40hp, 1913
  • "Type K" 30hp, 1913
  • Hathi
    Thornycroft Hathi
    The Hathi was an early four wheel drive lorry built by Thornycroft in the 1920s. It was used by the British Army as an artillery tractor.- Development :...

    , 1924
four-wheel drive artillery tractor
Artillery tractor
Artillery tractor is a kind of tractor, also referred to as a gun tractor, a vehicle used to tow artillery pieces of varying weights.-Traction:...

 for the army
  • A1 RSW / A3 RSW, an off-road capable rigid six-wheeler to an army specification, 1926
  • QC / Dreadnought, 1930
12 ton rigid six-wheel chassis.
  • Hardy
  • Dandy
  • Sturdy - 5/6 tonner
  • Trusty - 8 ton forward control 4 wheeler
  • Bullfinch
  • Strenuous
  • Mastiff
  • Tartar 6x4, both civilian & military versions
(see Thornycroft Bison for an unusual variant)
  • Taurus
  • Iron Duke
  • Amazon
  • Stag
  • Bulldog
  • Jupiter - 6.5 ton
  • Big Ben
  • Nubian
    • 3-ton vehicle
    • Available as 4 x 4, 6 x 4, 6 x 6
  • Antar
    Thornycroft Antar
    The Mighty Antar was a heavy-duty tractor unit built by Thornycroft from the 1940s onwards. For some decades it was the standard tank transporter of the British Army and was also used by other nations.- History :- Origins :...

    • 85-ton
    • 6 x 4 pipeline and tank transporter

See also

  • Terrapin
    Terrapin (amphibious vehicle)
    The Terrapin "4-ton amphibian" was a British-manufactured, amphibious armoured transport vehicle of the Second World War. It was first used at Antwerp in 1944, and to great effect during the Battle of the Scheldt....

     - design only, built by Morris Commercial
    Morris Commercial Cars
    Morris Commercial Cars Limited was a British manufacturer of commercial vehicles founded by William Morris, who was also the founder of the Morris Motor Company.-History:...

  • Nubian airport crash tender

  • Thornycroft military vehicles
  • Thornycroft Athletic F.C.
    Thornycroft Athletic F.C.
    Thornycroft Athletic were a highly successful Basingstoke-based football club who played in the Hampshire League for many years. The club were formed by employees of the Thornycroft car manufacturing firm and enjoyed great success during their existence....

External links

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