Author Topic: Williams Brothers, Douglas agents, Sydney NSW, from 1911  (Read 606 times)

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Offline cardan

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I've been doing some work on Waratah motorcycles, the 'home brand' for Williams Brothers in Sydney. Williams Bros often comes up in relation to Douglas in Australia, either though selling truck loads of Douglases https://www.douglasmotorcycles.net/index.php?topic=5073 or sponsoring racing on RAs, TTs etc. Here's an outline of the business, for the record:

The story of "Williams Brothers", well known in the Australian motor trade, begins with the three original Williams brothers:

George Harold Williams
Henry James Williams
William Arthur Williams

The brothers acquired the NSW branch of the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, 625 George St, Sydney, in 1905, taking it public in 1906 as the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, Ltd. In 1910, two other motor businesses were acquired and the combined entities re-incorporated under the same name. A magnificent seven-storey building was erected at 822 George St to house the new firm.

In 1911, the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, Ltd, acquired the agency for Douglas motorcycles.

In 1913, the brothers took control of the bicycle and motorcycle business of the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, Ltd, and reformed it under the name Williams Bros. The new business traded initially from the Canada building at 822 George St, but it was gutted by a massive fire in December 1913, and Williams Bros re-established at 213-217 Elizabeth St.

Enter the second generation of Williams brothers:

David Reginald 'Reg' Williams
Percy Harold Williams

Presumably they were the sons of one of the original Williams brothers, but I've yet to discover which one.

In 1914, Perc and Reg opened a motor garage in Muarray St, Orange, regional NSW. After the war, the brothers combined to enter the trade in Sydney. P & R Williams, 80-82 Wentworth Ave, Sydney, opened on April 7, 1920, initially selling second-hand motorcycles. Soon they gained, from Williams Bros, Ltd, the agency for AJS motorcycles, leaving Williams Bros with the busy and lucrative Douglas agency they had held since 1911. P & R Williams was incorporated as P & R Williams, Ltd in 1922; a subsiduary of Williams Bros, Ltd.

Williams Bros, Ltd, and P & R Williams, Ltd, traded separately for the next few years. Motorcyle-wise, Williams Bros focussed on Douglas (and their own brand Waratah), and P & R Williams focussed on AJS.

In 1927, S. A. Cheney bought a controlling interest in Williams Bros, Ltd, thus also gaining control of P & R Williams. He made it clear his interest was in the motor car side of the business, mostly the Morris agency, and a major restructure followed, resulting in "the biggest motor-cycle deal in the history of the trade in Australia". A new company was formed: Williams, Ltd, under the control of D. R. (Reg) Williams, to manage the agencies for Douglas, Waratah and Sunbeam. P & R Williams, Ltd, with P. H. Williams as managing director, carried on as before with the AJS and Velocette agencies.

To give an idea of the scope of the businesses at the time of the restructure in 1927, S. A. Cheney launched legal action against Williams Bros. claiming 250,000 in damages over issues to do with his puchase of shares.

The Waratah motorcyle began with the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, Ltd, in 1911, moved to Williams Bros. in 1913, and stayed with them through the 1920s. By the early 1930s P & R Williams had taken it on, and it stayed there until the end around 1953.

Leon

Offline Hutch

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Re: Williams Brothers, Douglas agents, Sydney NSW, from 1911
« Reply #1 on: 09 Feb 2021 at 03:19 »

Enter the second generation of Williams brothers:

David Reginald 'Reg' Williams
Percy Harold Williams

Presumably they were the sons of one of the original Williams brothers, but I've yet to discover which one.

Leon

You pose an interesting question Leon !

From Percy and Reg's WW1 service records we have their father listed as Christopher Bassett Williams. I found a link to him being in the Wodonga district in 1897 (Edit: The William's Bros had strong connections to the Wodonga District).

So nothing new in Anti - Vaccinationalists :-)

Also found him in Dun's Gazzette for NSW in 1922 as part of of P & R Williams Limited. Have not found the relationship between George, Henry and William to Christopher but it will be somewhere!

cheers

Ian
« Last Edit: 09 Feb 2021 at 04:27 by Hutch »

Offline cardan

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Re: Williams Brothers, Douglas agents, Sydney NSW, from 1911
« Reply #2 on: 09 Feb 2021 at 03:39 »
Thanks Ian. Seems the answer is "none of the above". I see that Reg Williams was born in Wodonga; in 1905 the three brothers moved from Wodonga when they bought Canada Cycle and Motor Agency in Sydney. Presumably Christopher was another brother in the "first generation" - the one that stayed at home. It doesn't matter too much to the story.

You can read the Waratah stuff here: http://classicmotorcycleforum.com/index.php?topic=6172.0  Turns out Waratah was a long running brand of Australian-made motorcycles that was (mostly) not made in Australia at all!

Of Douglas interest, but not mentioned above, P & R Williams took over the Douglas agency from Williams Ltd in October 1929.

Leon

Offline Hutch

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Re: Williams Brothers, Douglas agents, Sydney NSW, from 1911
« Reply #3 on: 09 Feb 2021 at 04:00 »
Yes Leon - "none of the above"!  - I thought at first glance that Reg and Percy were son's of George or Henry or William - but not so.

Attached is Fred William's obituary from the Wodonga and Towong Sentinal 18 Feb 1910 with possibly a few more snippets of information. No official Williams family tree found so far......

(Edit: I am presuming C.B. Williams had recently left the Education Department rather than was deceased with reference to the word "late" in the article - or are there two C.B. Williams?)

Cheers

Ian
« Last Edit: 09 Feb 2021 at 04:26 by Hutch »

Offline cardan

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Re: Williams Brothers, Douglas agents, Sydney NSW, from 1911
« Reply #4 on: 09 Feb 2021 at 04:29 »
Enough! Enough! Nine brothers and two sisters?!

The three brothers I listed (WA, HJ, GH) were the directors of the various early firms: Canada Cycle and Motor Agency Ltd (1906), Canada Cycle and Motor Agency Ltd (1910), presumably Williams Bros (a private business) (1913), Williams Bros Ltd (1920). I assume they were the "main players" - particularly WA and HJ as they had a gala farewell when they retired in 1926.

Funny that P & R were sons of CB who, it seems, was not involved in the "first generation" Williams Bros businesses.

Seriously, I don't need to know any more but go ahead if you're interested.

Cheers

Leon

Offline EW-Ron

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Re: Williams Brothers, Douglas agents, Sydney NSW, from 1911
« Reply #5 on: 10 Feb 2021 at 07:50 »
Do we know how or when P & R Williams ended up ?

Douglas obviously petered out in the 1950s, and Waratahs seem to have finished in the early 50s.
What happened to the Velocette and AJS agencies ??

P.S. Great work you guys, thats the most comprehensive account of what was a hitherto rather secret empire.

Offline cardan

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Re: Williams Brothers, Douglas agents, Sydney NSW, from 1911
« Reply #6 on: 10 Feb 2021 at 08:20 »
Hi Ron,

P & R Williams Ltd was a Sydney metropolitan car dealership when it was wound up and removed from the stock exchange by liquidators in July 1964. Apparently the name and assets ended up with BMC, who continued to use the name after the firm had long gone - 1968 at least.

Leon

Offline Hutch

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Re: Williams Brothers, Douglas agents, Sydney NSW, from 1911
« Reply #7 on: 19 Feb 2021 at 01:33 »
Ron and Leon,

I just remembered I could have saved myself the effort of looking up the info on P & R Williams as there is a good write up of their early days in Old Bike Australasia No. 42 by Pat Hobbs (pg 36 entitled "P&R Williams Begginnings"). This article had previously been mentioned in Leon's RA, RW and TW Douglas Racers in Australia thread, but for some reason I didn't remember that at the time.....such is life!

cheers

Ian

 

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