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Rennie Prosser centenary article

newspaper article
 Family owned car dealership celebrates its centenary

Wednesday 17 November 1993

ONE of Scotland's most successful family owned car dealerships celebrates its centenary today.

Prosser & Sons Ltd, the Royston Road headquartered Rover outlet, has been familiar to generations of Scottish motorists over the years, notably as one of the very few of its age and standing to have remained as fiercely independent today as it was when the original Harry Prosser first set up shop.

Oddly enough that was not in Glasgow, but first of all in Liverpool, then Manchester and Leeds. Not surprisingly he dealt in bicycles, rather than cars, which at the time were still very much in their embryo stage.

Karl Benz had just built his first car at Mannheim and exhibited it at the World Fair in Paris. Gottleib Daimler was making parallel progress and, in the United States, the Duryea brothers, Apperson brothers, Haymes, Winton and others were all working on the problem of producing the first ''horseless carriage'' to be propelled by an internal combustion engine.

Benz won by a short head and soon all of the industrialised nations of the world had car factories falling over each other in a bid to cash in on this astonishing technological breakthrough.

Harry Prosser married in 1896 and the following year moved to Glasgow and opened another bicycle shop, all the while keeping a close eye on what was happening in the world of the automobile.

In 1899 he took on a partner, a Mr Rennie, and they added motor cycles in premises at 95 Mitchell Street. The following year marked the beginning of an exciting period of growth. The partners acquired agencies for Argyll, De Dion and Panhard and placed their first order with Wolsely. Remarkably, 83 Wolsleys were sold in a single year and the business prospered.

In 1903 an event occurred which many regard as the most important in the history of the trade in Scotland. Harry Prosser and 12 other dealers met in Edinburgh on April 4 and established ''a motor trade association for Scotland'', later to become the Scottish Motor Trade Association.

The others were: J.H. Paterson, A.K. Dempsey, A.G. Rennie, J. Love, C. Firth, R.E. Wilson, W.L. Sleigh, J. MacDonald, J.W Hunter, J.D. Broomlow, W.E. Townsend and W. Flint, with T.M. Sleigh as secretary.

Harry Prosser subsequently served as president of the association and the current Prosser directors retain a solid silver cigar case presented to him and inscribed with the names of the founding members of the organisation.

Rennie & Prosser had earlier amalgamated with Claud Hamilton Ltd to establish a motor business in Aberdeen under the Claud Hamilton banner. That was in 1905, but in 1908 Harry Prosser severed his connections with Rennie and Hamilton, starting up as H. Prosser in Glasgow's Hope Street, dealing exclusively with Wolsley.

A few years later a separate workshop was established in St George's Road, where during the First World War it converted Wolseley chassis into ambulances for war service.

More turbulent times came after the cessation of hostilities.

Wolsley went into liquidation in October 1926, causing Harry Prosser and some other leading trade figures to mount a rescue deal. They explored ways of keeping the manufacturer alive, eventually forming links with W.R. Morris, (later Lord Nuffield), and persuading him to purchase the stock. Reports in the Glasgow Herald at the time credited Mr Prosser with being the driving force behind the rescue.

Eventually, however, the Bank of Scotland purchased the Hope Street building and Prosser was on the move again.

New showroom and garage premises were acquired at 89 West Campbell Street and here the company stayed until, in 1971, it moved to the present more spacious, modern and custom-designed complex in Royston Road.

The development of the company since its inception mirrored the growth of the motor trade in Scotland, but the stability of H. Prosser & Sons in a fast moving, rapidly changing business environment has been one of its most impressive achievements.

''We have been connected with the successors to Wolsley throughout our existence,'' said director Denis Prosser. ''During this period we have survived two world wars and have provided an ongoing service to our customers during the good and bad times experienced by the British car manufacturing industry.

''This company is still run by two Prossers, myself and my brother and fellow director, Stan, grandsons of the founder. We are here every day, still accessible to our customers, many of whom have become firm friends over the years.

''We are delighted, therefore, to welcome them to help us celebrate our first 100 years and we can promise that the total commitment to service laid down by our grandfather, and carried on in turn by our uncles Reg and David and our father, Pat Prosser, will be maintained and developed as we move confidently into our second century,'' he promised. 
The cited information was sourced from Electronic Document (email, file) published in Glasgow on November 17th, 1993 <> The author/originator was The Glasgow Herald. This citation is considered to be evidence of questionable reliability (interviews, census, oral genealogies, or potential for bias for example, an autobiography).

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