Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

On This Day


Thursday 12th October 1911

106 years ago

Sir William Crossley (67), co-founder of Crossley Brothers Ltd (later Crossley Motors Ltd), died. Crossley Brothers was set up in 1867 by brothers Francis (1839-97) and William J.(1844-1911). Francis, with help from his uncle, bought the engineering business of John M Dunlop at Great Marlborough Street in Manchester city centre, including manufacturing pumps, presses, and small steam engines. William (Sir William from 1910 - Baronet) joined his brother shortly after the purchase. The company name was initially changed to Crossley Brothers and Dunlop. Each of the brothers had served engineering apprenticeships: Francis, known as Frank, at Robert Stephenson and Company; and William at W.G. Armstrong, both in Newcastle upon Tyne. William concentrated on the business side, Frank provided the engineering expertise.The brothers were committed Christians and strictly teetotal, refusing to supply their products to companies such as breweries, whom they did not approve of. They adopted the early Christian symbol of the Coptic Cross (Coptic Christianity) as the emblem to use on their road vehicles.In 1869 they had the foresight to acquire the UK and world (except German) rights to the patents of Otto and Langden of Cologne for the new gas fueled atmospheric internal combustion engine and in 1876 these rights were extended to the famous Otto four-stroke cycle engine. The changeover to four stroke engines was remarkably rapid with the last atmospheric engines being made in 1877. The business flourished. In 1881, Crossley Brothers became a private limited company (i.e. Crossley Brothers Ltd.), and then in 1882 it moved to larger premises in Pottery Lane, Openshaw, in eastern Manchester. Further technical improvements also followed, including the introduction of poppet valves and the hot-tube ignitor in 1888 and the introduction of the carburettor, allowing volatile liquid fuels to be used. By adopting the heavier fuelled "oil" engine, the first one being demonstrated in 1891, the company's future was assured. Among other applications, these "oil" engines were used with Gwynnes Centrifugal Pumps for irrigation. Then in 1896, they obtained rights to the diesel system, which used the heat of compression alone to ignite the fuel. Their first diesel was built in 1898. By the turn of the century, there was also some production of petrol engines, and from 1901 these engines were finding their way into road vehicles, including, in 1905, Leyland buses. A major contribution to manufacturing was the introduction of the assembly line. The Crossley system even influenced Henry Ford, who visited Pottery Lane at the turn of the century.

Sir William Crossley

Sir William Crossley

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