John Fea: Lock Keeper / John Fea and Catherine Thomson / Helen Fea and Alexander Winton / Alexander Fea and Jeanette Muir McGlashan
The Winton Motor Carriage Co
The company was incorporated on 15th March 1897 with a share capital of $200,000 and five shareholders including Alexander Winton and his brother in law, Thomas Henderson (husband of (Catherine Winton).
On 12th June 1897, Alexander made a sixty mile round trip in a two cylinder vehicle. A publication of the time does indicate that there had been an earlier trip, perhaps a trial run. A few weeks later he made a return trip from Cleveland to New York, some 800 miles, in just over seventy eight hours. He learned from this trip and made prior arrangements to ensure that these trips were duly publicised in the future. The Cleveland to New York trip was repeated in 1900. A series of trips and challenges followed.
There is a story of Henry Ford coming to Cleveland to seek work and being turned down due to lack of experience. This may well just be a story. It does appear that Ford did visit the Winton factory at least once.
There were many patents registered at this time and some legal action on infringement of patents.
The share capital of the company was increased to $1,000,000 in 1901 and a new factory built in 1902 over a period of six months. By this time there were 300 employees. Just a year after the factory began operations, the company had a workforce of 800 employees and it was one of the largest factories devoted exclusively to the motor car in the world. The company was able to produce 850 cars in 1903 and further buildings were erected on the site.
Motor car racing came to an end in 1905 when a Winton Bullet crashed. The driver suffered a dislocated shoulder, a broken arm and a crushed left leg, which later had to be amputated. The accident and injury to the driver caused Alexander great distress lead to the decision to pull out.
Alexander's early days at sea and involvement with marine engineering resulted in the development of marine engines. He had a yacht named La Belle built in 1911 with gasoline engines. This involvement led to the creation of The Winton Gas & Engine Manufacturing Company in January 1912 and the erection of a factory several miles away from the motor car plant.
There was a period of continued expansion for motor car production and the erection of additional buildings. The company name was changed to The Winton Motor Car Co in 1914. The share capital of the company was increased to $2,500,000 in 1916. By 1919, the plant occupied some 350,000 sq ft and there were over 850 employees.
Following the war, there were almost a hundred companies producing some 2.2 million motor cars in the US with almost half of those being produced by Ford. With the depression, the number of companies reduced by half in the next ten years.
Alexander's interest had turned to the gasoline and oil engine business and the motor car production was run by others. By the early 1920s, he was quite keen to get out of motor car manufacture. Mass production had greatly reduced the selling price of motor cars. It might have been said some that there was a resistance to change resulting in the continued production of what became overpriced cars that had the same mechanical capabilities of the past.
The fortunes of the motor car manufacturing business declined and attention turned to the diesel engine. Properties were sold off and a decision was made at a meeting of shareholders on 16th December 1925 to dissolve The Winton Motor Car Co.