Page 2.   SD Enthusiasts' Club Newsletter - Summer 2021.


Through the generosity of Malcolm Easton, a grandson of James Drewry I am able to recount an unusual invention from the designer of the SD Freighter – the Drewry Testometer.

I only have the Introduction to an Instruction Book that consisted of over twenty pages. Here it is explained that the instrument shown above was initially designed for the testing of the performance of road cars. However after five years of testing and modifications the instrument was found to be so accurate and dependable that it was decided to manufacture it in quantities and to offer it for sale at “a reasonable price”. The Drewry Instrument Company was formed with James Drewry’s home address – Baldock Road, Letchworth.

The Introduction explains that the instrument registers the force that is being applied to a vehicle. It was to be simply placed on the vehicle without the need of any connections, and measured the force applied regardless of the gradient of the road on which the test was taking place.

The instrument didn’t measure acceleration directly, but the Introduction notes that acceleration could be calculated from the readings if the gradient was known. The list of contents describes the uses to which the Testometer can be put :- measuring rolling resistance, actual acceleration, horse power, or petrol consumption, brake testing, testing a road car clutch and even testing the resistance of boats.

It would be interesting to know how successful sales were of this versatile instrument.


Malcolm Easton found this photo among his Grandfather’s papers.

Malcolm thinks it may well be his Grandfather, James Drewry, at the controls of this SD Freighter. He wonders what the occasion was and what make of car is being carried .One suggestion that has been made is that it is a Phoenix. The Phoenix Motor Company moved from North London to the emerging Letchworth Garden City in 1911 into a modern factory on the corner of Pixmore Way near the Lacre factory.

The company had been formed in 1903 by Joseph van Hooydonk, a Belgian who had been badly burned as a child, and hence the choice of the name Phoenix for his Company. The company went into liquidation in 1924 but continued to assemble cars for a couple of years more. One of its cars driven by Joseph completed the six day trial in Scotland in 1922 and the Garden City Collection has several photographs of that event.

However I’ve been unable to find any photographs of a Phoenix that resemble the car shown in the photo above. Philip Clifford has suggested a Delage and the photo shown below makes it a good candidate.

Cecil Saunders Ltd. Works Road, Letchworth Garden City.

In the Spring Newsletter it was suggested that Cecil Saunders Ltd., may have been responsible for some of the bodies fitted to early SD Freighters. The photo below shows Cecil Saunders’ Works in Works Road in May 1963.

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