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 engines.
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
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
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.