About This Company
Edwin Foden was born on 5th August 1841
in the village of Smallwood near Sandbach, Cheshire. The son of a
shoemaker, he was apprenticed to the agricultural engineering firm of
Plant and Hancock in 1856. Ten years later through diligence and hard
work he was made a partner. Although Plant and Handcock manufactured
steam engines, due to the restrictive legislation of the time these were
only portables. By the time Edwin Foden had assumed control of what was
now Hancock and Foden he was already thinking about self-propelled steam
engines and during the 1880s began anufacturing agricultural steam
A new company was formed in 1887, Edwin
Foden Sons & Co Ltd, and development work commenced on Edwin's idea of a
superior steam wagon. This took longer than anticipated but by the 1901
war office trials a design had been produced which was to set the
standard for steam wagons for the next twenty-five years. Edwin Foden
died on 31st August 1911, being succeeded by his sons William and E.R.
By the late 1920s it was becoming obvious
that however excellent the product, steam was giving way to the internal
combustion engine. This was a difficult time for Fodens which resulted
in E.R. Foden leaving to establish a rival commercial vehicle
manufacturer - E.R.F. Despite all this the first Foden diesel was
produced in 1931 using a Gardner 5L2 engine. This vehicle, which has
covered well over a million miles, is now in the Science Museum
collection at Wroughton. Production now turned almost exclusively to
diesel but the company was still struggling until, in 1935, William
Foden returned from Australia where he had emigrated some years earlier.
His presence stimulated new confidence and he produced the DG range
which was to transform the company's fortunes.
DG production continued throughout the
Second World War as a military version had been developed. This was
built alongside Crusader and Centaur tanks and 20mm shells. After the
war the company seemed to expand on many different fronts. The
development of the FG range, the two-stroke diesel and the expansion
into export markets, primarily South Africa and Australasia. Meanwhile
the famous Foden Motor Works Band, formed on Mafeking night 1900, was
regularly making records and performing concerts on the radio.
By 1954 what proved to be a very rugged
and successful design of dump truck was produced and the two-stroke
engine was becoming a very desirable option for marine applications. In
1958 the first glass reinforced plastic cabs were made enabling Fodens
to produce the first British tilt cab in 1962. It is difficult to list
the vast number of diverse designs which Fodens produced in the fifties
and sixties - single and double deck buses, including the first rear
engined bus in 1950, mobile crane chassis, heavy haulage tractors,
timber tractors and the innovative 'twin-load' concept.
In the 1970's new models appeared for the
general haulage market and a large contract was secured with the M.O.D.
Unfortunately by the end of the decade, due to a number of factors but
mainly recession, the company found itself in receivership and was
acquired by Paccar, an American truck manufacturer. Under new ownership
the name of Foden has continued to be prominent in the commercial
vehicle industry. With new and improved designs the company has
established itself as a premium vehicle manufacturer with the emphasis
on custom building the vehicle to the customers' requirements.
Sadly the production plant at Sandbach is
due to close in Spring 2000, with production transferring to Leyland.
However, the Foden name is to continue. Quality, durability and
excellence of engineering are terms which have become synonymous with
Foden products in the past and will be equally applicable to Foden
products in the future for many years to come.