Karrier Motors Ltd. 1908-1946

Although Karrier Motors Limited was incorporated in 1920, the Karrier name can be traced back to 1908, when Clayton & Company (Huddersfield) Limited, produced a 30cwt goods vehicle, which was named the ‘Karrier’ (probably a deliberate misspelling of ‘carrier’).

The first models featured two-cylinder engines and chain-drive, and were fitted with either goods or passenger bodywork. In the first year just 15 vehicles were built, but by 1910 the production had risen to 46 vehicles.

By the end of the First World War in 1918, Karrier vehicles were quite well known, since they had provided around 2000 chassis for use as lorries during the conflict.

In 1920 the company changed its name to Karrier Motors Limited, although the Clayton family retained control, and new premises were acquired in Huddersfield.

The immediate postwar range of Karrier vehicles consisted of 36hp and 50hp models based predominantly on the prewar and wartime designs.

This was partly a consequence of the War Department subsidy, which was offered on models purchased for civilian use that were approved for Army use and thus could be readily utilised if war was declared.

The models were designated K and SK (the ‘K’ indicating forward control and the ‘S’ indicating ‘side-type’), and had four-cylinder engines but with normally driven rear axles instead of the prewar chain drive.

In 1923 Karrier exhibited a six-wheel vehicle at the Commercial Motor Show, which consisted of a tractor unit and trailer and was in fact an articulated bus, allowed abroad but forbidden in Britain.

As a result Karrier Motors decided to concentrate on a rigid six-wheel version and produced the first such vehicle to meet the newly introduced legal requirements in 1925 (although whether they actually produced the very first six-wheeled vehicle is a matter for debate).

At the time, Karrier, like so many other manufacturers, had a varied and extensive range of chassis available, although by 1925 they had introduced a successor to the K models with the prefix J.

The best-known model of the J series was the JKL, introduced in 1926, a normal control model with four-cylinder engine and seating for up to 32 passengers.

Karrier also produced the smaller C type, introduced around 1922, and was intended for around 20 passengers, but in September 1925 the CYL model was introduced, which featured a drop-frame for lower loading and marked the division of passenger chassis from goods chassis, which until that time were generally interchangeable.

Although the six-wheeled bus had a relatively brief existence it was nevertheless a success for Karrier Motors and the decline in sales during the late 1920’s came during the depression, when the manufacture of a new product was difficult.

The six-wheel market was, however, buoyant in sales of trolleybuses, and Karrier decided to move into this market with their six-wheeled chassis, and at the same time make renewed efforts to sell their four-wheeled models, manufacture of which had dropped to very low levels by 1929, despite the Company having introduced type names, such as Coaster, Cutter, Chaser, Clipper and Consort, in an attempt to emulate the success of other manufacturers’ named chassis.

Although it is reported that Gardner and Dorman-Ricardo oil engines were offered on Karrier models from 1929, the first oil-engined Karrier to appear in public seems to have been the Consort exhibited at the 1931 Commercial Motor Show, equipped with a Gardner 6LW engine.

The first oil-engined Karriers to be placed in service were two Chaser Six models supplied to Huddersfield Corporation in 1932 (with Northern Counties B32R bodywork).

In 1933 an order for 10 Monitor chassis (the Monitor had been introduced in 1930) was received from the Johannesburg Municipality and remarkably, these were almost certainly the final Karrier motorbuses to be built.

The demise of Karrier Motors Limited was swift and sudden. Despite the Karrier range of chassis having a good reputation it was thought to be outmoded and the newer chassis had not yet had the impact of which their mechanical design and engineering were obviously capable.

In June 1934 the Company went into receivership and was taken over by the Rootes Group and motorbus production ceased.

The trolleybus side of the business was by this time quite successful. The Company’s interest in the trolleybus had commenced in 1928 through a business arrangement with Clough, Smith & Co. Ltd., who were well-known electrical engineers and suppliers of overhead wiring systems.

The trolleybuses marketed under this arrangement bore the name Karrier-Clough, although the agreement ended in 1932, by which time 44 Karrier-Clough’s had been sold. From then onwards Karrier marketed the trolleybuses under its own name.

When the Company came under the control of the Rootes Group in 1934, production of trolleybuses was transferred to the Sunbeam factory in Wolverhampton and the Huddersfield premises closed down.

During the war years, trolleybuses were manufactured under both Sunbeam and Karrier names before the trolleybus business was sold (via Brockhouse of West Bromwich) to Guy Motors Ltd., in 1948, with the Rootes Group retaining the right to use the Karrier name.

This effectively broke the link between the Karrier name and full-sized passenger vehicles, although it was later revived for a small 14-seat coach based on the Commer 25cwt van chassis.

Karrier-Clough (1926-1932)
(including a brief history of Clough, Smith & Co. Ltd. for the period 1910-1932)

Clough, Smith & Co. Ltd., were engineers and contractors, founded in 1910 by Norman Clough and Sidney G. Smith, both experienced electrical engineers with knowledge of tramway electrification both at home and abroad.

The partners intended to promote the design and installation of suitable overhead power supplies for the tramway and trolleybus markets.

They designed and installed the overhead and traction supplies for all the Cedes-Stoll systems in Britain.

Just after the First World War they purchased six Brush trolleybuses for £7,800 that had been in mothballs since March 1915 and, almost immediately, re-sold them to the Teesside Railless Traction Board for £9,900.

This transaction encouraged the Company to exploit this market further, especially as the General Manager at Teesside had been so pleased with the ‘new’ trolleybuses that he designed a new type of ‘trolley-omnibus’ system, which Clough, Smith duly arranged to be manufactured.

The basic chassis was purchased from the Straker-Squire company at Edmonton, London, with the electrical equipment from BTH at Rugby and the body (in most cases) by Roe or Brush.

They were marketed under the name of Straker-Clough and came as part of a package that included the design, supply and erection of the overhead. The first Straker-Clough entered service in October 1921 and the final product was sold in September 1926, a total of 63 in all.

However, in May 1925, Straker-Squire was in financial difficulties and went into voluntary liquidation, forcing Clough, Smith & Co. to seek another supplier. That turned out to be Karrier Motors Ltd., of Huddersfield.

The original design of Karrier-Clough vehicles were developed from the six-wheeled double-deck Karrier WL6/2 motorbus chassis, and was designated the E6.

A new series of chassis numbers was commenced at 54001 (although the first vehicles delivered, to Doncaster Corporation in 1928 had chassis numbers 54003-54006).

A total of 44 Karrier-Clough trolleybuses were sold, mainly going to Doncaster Corporation, although Derby, Nottingham and York Corporations all had examples.

Karrier-Clough Trolleybuses 1928-1932

Chassis No.PurchaserFleet Nos.BodySeating


54001-06Doncaster CT5-10RoeH32/28R


54007-12Doncaster CT11-16RoeH32/28R
54013-18Doncaster CT17-22RoeH32/28R


54020Doncaster CT23RoeH32/28R
54023*DemonstratorPark RoyalH32/28R

later purchased by Nottingham CT (No. 50).


54021-22Doncaster CT24-25RoeH32/28R
54024-28Doncaster CT26-30RoeH32/28R
54032-43Nottingham CT25-36Park RoyalH30/30R
55001-03York CT30-32RoeB32R


54044Derby CT99DodsonH29/27R