World War I

ROVER produces for Others

1914 - 1918


ROVER produced 1,943 civilian automobiles in 1914 until the beginning of the war. Although companies important to the war effort are listed in the "Coventry Armament and Munitions Cluster (C.A.M.C.)", initially only the Rover Cycle Co. Ltd.  with the Fleet Works, St. John Works and Reliance Foundry is included. Rover is handling substantial deliveries of motorcycles to Russia and France even before the introduction of centralized contracting. These orders are fulfilled "after acceptance by the principals, before packing for cash payment." Before December 1914, Rover received an order for 1,000 bicycles for the British Army and 1,000 bicycles for the Royal Mail Administration - the latter had previously had to give 1,000 bicycles to the Army. Rover fulfilled this order by early 1915.

Until mid-1915, the government relies entirely on the production of ammunition and shells promised by the existing munitions factories. But already in March 1915 it becomes known that the agreed delivery quantities, e.g., of 18-pounder grenades amounting to 481,000 pieces with about 52,000 actually delivered were fulfilled only to about 10%. In May, a journalist reports from the front, triggering a scandal that also triggers changes in the government. It is necessary to finally get an overview of the production of war material. The Ministry of War (M.O.W.) is joined by the Ministry of Munitions (M.O.M.), which is set up by David Lloyd George and immediately becomes active. In 1917, Winston Churchill took over the M.O.M., which had now grown to 12,000 employees. Numerous new state factories were built with the highest priority; in addition, civilian companies were increasingly called upon. Many problems arise that can only be solved centrally. Among other things, the approximately 2,000 trucks requisitioned for the army at the beginning of the war are now missing in the country; the newly established factories need workers, who in turn need housing and food. Women are taking over men's jobs in numerous industries, both in transportation and manufacturing. In the Coventry area, new institutions oversee the production of war equipment by previously civilian manufacturers.

In September 1915, an editorial in the Coventry Graphic  described the changes in the city as follows:

We see new factories arise; we see aeroplanes in the air, The workshops have been industrial beehives all the time and Coventry has developed as a great munitions centre. The vast number of workmen near the factories at meal times show the force of the workers; but the flurry of activity at night is not as generally observed by the public. It will surprise people some day to learn how greatly Coventry contributed to the output of munitions for both Great Britain and her Allies.

The C.A.M.C. report of December 1915 also finds the Rover Co Ltd  with the New Meteor Works, Rover Road, Helen Street and Foleshill plants in the cluster. While production of its own vehicles was dormant, orders for 500 ⇒ Maudslay trucks and 1,781 ⇒ Sunbeam ambulance and ⇒ staff vehicles and associated spare parts were on hand and were delivered steadily until 1918.
However, a note in Commercial Motors of 29 June 1916 indicates that the War Department also accepted an offer from ROVER to build "motor vehicles and ambulances". It was not possible to find out whether an order was placed here and if so, how much.

In addition, Rover produced Stokes grenade launchers, grenades, fuzes, 18-pound mortar shells, gas grenades, 4.5 in grenades, gears for Daimler tanks and further bicycles for the army and the postal administration.
From 1916 onwards, pistons for Gnome aircraft engines were also forged and tear gas grenades produced.

It should be mentioned that Rover did not receive any government investment subsidies during the war years, but financed all necessary plant expansions from its own funds.
In March 1917, Rover was accused of putting preparations for the resumption of civilian car production above national interests when the management refused to renew a contract for the manufacture of gas grenades, justifying this with the workload caused by other government contracts. There were obviously no disadvantages for Rover as a result.


© 2021-2024 by ROVER - Passion / Michael-Peter Börsig