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Final piece of Rippon jigsaw; Author desperate to track star designer at fabled town coachwork company.

Byline: KATIE GRANT

A HISTORY book about a Huddersfield firm which is Britain's oldest coachbuilder is nearing completion.

Rippon Brothers built coaches for Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.

But author Jonathan Wood needs one last piece of important information.

He is seeking information about Joseph Butterworth, a car body designer who worked for the company from 1930 to 1939.

During Mr Butterworth's time at Rippon Bros, the company won the silver Coachmakers Cups eight years consecutively at the London Motor Show, held at Kensington and Olympia and presented by the Institute of British Carriage and Automotive manufacturers.

The cups, presented to the town in 1971, are still on display in Huddersfield Town Hall. Jonathan said: "Do any readers remember him or are members of the family? If so, please contact me.

"Mr Butterworth moved to an aircraft manufacturer in Mirfield during the war - possibly John Gregory Ltd's Wellington Mill, which was taken over in 1942 by the Ministry of Aircraft Production.

"A company called Jicwood, later Airscrew Jicwood, went into production there making doors for Lancaster bombers, among other things.

"It would seem that the Ministry of Aircraft Production transported all the necessary machinery for the production of these aircraft parts from Surrey to Yorkshire.

"The completed parts were then transported to premises adjacent to Leeds Bradford Airport for assembly. Perhaps this was where Rippon employees moved to during the war?" After the war Mr Butterworth may have worked at Southern North & Baker Ltd, at Atlas Works, Mill Royd Street. By 1956 they had become R Southern & Co Ltd, caravans and coachbuilders, at Robin Hood Works, Wakefield Road, Brighouse.

Rippon's associations with Huddersfield date back to 1870 when William Rippon established the business in St John's Road.

Before the First World War the company moved to purpose-built premises in Viaduct Street.

The building was occupied until 1971 and is now part of the site of the Tesco supermarket.

Jonathan, co-founder of Classic Car magazine, said: "Before the business came to Huddersfield, Walter Rippon is credited with having introduced the coach to England in 1555 with his first customer being the Earl of Rutland.

"In 1584, Rippon built a special 'chariot throne' for Elizabeth I and also made a coach for Mary Queen of Scots."

Descendant William Rippon set up the Huddersfield business and it was later taken on by his three sons William, Joseph and George.

The firm successfully made the transition from horse-drawn vehicles to horseless carriages.

Later the company landed an exclusive manufacturing deal with Rolls-Royce.

The company's chairman and managing director from 1949 until his death in 1969 was Joseph's son, Colonel Reginald Ripon. The business is understood to have been sold in the 1970s.

Can you help with the final piece of the jigsaw? If so please contact Jonathan Wood by email:jonathanwood35@tiscali.co.uk; tel: 01584 875438.

Alternatively write to Jonathan at: The Merchant House, Lower Corve Street, Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 1DU

CAPTION(S):

* BUILT COACHES FOR ROYALS: The 'new'' building for the Rippon Brothers on Viaduct Street, now Tesco. Right: Coachbuilding saloon at Rippon Brothers * SILVER SUCCESS: While Joseph Butterworth worked for Rippon Brothers they won the prestigious silver Coachmakers Cups for eight years consecutively at the London Motor Show * CHAIRMAN: Colonel Reginald Rippon, and (below) Jonathan Wood researches his book
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Aug 20, 2011
Words:551
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