Arthur Mulliner was the 20th century name of a coachbuilding business founded in Northampton in 1760 which remained in family ownership. The business was acquired by Henlys Limited in 1940 and lost its separate identity.
Henry Mulliner (1827-1887) of Leamington Spa was the second son of Francis Mulliner (1789-1841) of Northampton and Leamington Spa and a direct descendant of the Mulliner who built the business making mail coaches in Northampton around 1760. Henry and his wife born Ann Robson had six sons and six daughters
Henry's brothers were:
- Francis Mulliner (1824-1886) eldest son, who stayed in charge of the Northampton business until 1870, his mother died in 1875 aged 79, when he purchased Robert's Liverpool business and went to live in Birkenhead. His second son was Augustus Greville Mulliner who took over the Liverpool business.
- Robert Bouverie Mulliner (1830-1902) who went to Liverpool in 1854 and started his own coachbuilding business in Great Charlotte Street. In 1870 he sold out to Francis and moved to Chiswick near London. His second son was Henry Jervis Mulliner of Chiswick, founder of H. J. Mulliner & Co.
- William Rice Mulliner (1834-1863) bought a commission in the army and died unmarried aged 29 while acting governor of Lagos Colony
Henry's second son Colonel Arthur Felton Mulliner (1859-1946), born and raised in Leamington Spa, who had been managing the works in Northampton married in September 1887 the eldest daughter of the founder of Northampton's Albion Steam Brewery (see Ratliffe's Celebrated Stout). Soon after his father's death in November 1887 Arthur announced in the Northampton Mercury he would carry on the business of the late firm of H Mulliner & Co Limited of Northampton, Leamington and Warwick in the same Northampton premises in Bridge Street on his own account.
Arthur Mulliner took the Northampton coachbuilding business into the construction of motor car bodies and by the beginning of 1899 Northampton had built over 150 mainly on Daimler chassis. The relationship with the Daimler business was close.
First manufacturer-organised press road test
In July 1897 two lady journalists from The Gentlewoman were driven by Arthur Mulliner in a Daimler (the 75 miles) from Northampton to their offices in Arundel Street, off the Strand in London. They reported the sensation to be like "tobogganing or riding on a switchback railway". They asked Mulliner why he called the car "she", he said because "it took a man to manage her". To prove Mulliner wrong they both took the controls during the journey south.
In the 1930s although orders for the more traditional makers such as Derby's Rolls-Royce and Bentley continued, large production runs from the middle market makers were proving harder to get and in 1940 the business was sold to the car distributor Henlys which closed the coach building business and dropped the name after Arthur's death in 1946 but kept the sales and marketing operation which lasted until 1976.
A few years before the first World War some aeroplanes were developed and built in a converted ice skating rink at the Battersea, London works - 2 to 16 Vardens Road, Battersea.
Herbert Hall Mulliner. In the mid 1880s Arthur's brother H H Mulliner (1861-1924) started a coachbuilding business in Birmingham because Leamington Spa had fallen out of fashion and that coachbuilding business became Mulliners (Birmingham).
Henry Jervis Mulliner. In 1900 the motor-car part of the London operation jointly owned by Mulliner Northampton and Mulliner Liverpool [note 1] was purchased by H J Mulliner (1870-1967), son of R B Mulliner (1830-1902) of Chiswick and he put its ownership into his company formed in 1897, H J Mulliner Limited.
- Works 73 to 83 Bridge Street, and Victoria Gardens, Northampton
- Showroom 73 Bridge Street Northampton
- 56 Brook Street, Grosvenor Square W1
- 28 Brook Street London W1 This showroom was opened in the early 1870s by Francis Mulliner (1824-1886) by then of Liverpool.
In 1882 A G Mulliner of Liverpool and A F Mulliner of Northampton placed the showroom ownership in a jointly held company, Mulliner London Limited.
In 1896 H J Mulliner "joined his cousins in Mulliner London Limited" (probably as an employee). Then in 1900 he bought from his cousins the car side of that Brook Street business and put it in the ownership of H J Mulliner & Co, Brook Street, Mayfair.
- 13 to 25 Long Acre London WC, Mulliner Coachworks Limited —Long Acre Works Colonel Arthur Mulliner of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
- Vardens Road Battersea 1909-1912
- 54 Baker Street London by 1923
Cars by Arthur Mulliner of London and Northampton
- Censuses 1841 through to 1911, official records of Births Deaths and Marriages 1837 through to 1983
- formal notice of the dissolution of the Leamington partnership with brother Henry appears in The London Gazette 17 June 1856, page 2143
- George Arthur Oliver, A History of Coach Building. Cassell, London 1962 (with foreword by Col. H J Mulliner)
- Warwick County Court, Leamington Spa Courier Saturday 21 May 1887
- Arthur Mulliner, Northampton Mercury Saturday 14 April 1888
- page 47 Lord Montagu and David Burgess-Wise Daimler Century ; Stephens 1995 ISBN 1-85260-494-8
- Nick Walker, A-Z of British Coachbuilders Bay View Books 1997. ISBN 1-870979-93-1
- page 92, C E Rankin Kennedy, The Principles of Aeroplane Construction, D Van Nostrand Company, New York, 1911
- Martin Bennett, Bentley Continental: Corniche & Azure Second Edition Veloce Publishing, Dorchester 2010. ISBN 9781845842109
- Mulliner, Long Acre, London, and Northampton, Ltd. The Times, Monday, Nov 07, 1910; pg. 6; Issue 39423
- Political Notes. The Times, Friday, Apr 19, 1912; pg. 7; Issue 39877
- Arthur Mulliner, Ltd. The Times, Friday, Nov 02, 1923; pg. 18; Issue 43488
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