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Archive Reference / Library Class No.D2696
TitleSanderson & Holmes of Derby, coach builders/motor car body builders, and predecessors
DescriptionBusiness records for Holmes & Co. (1803-1923), F. Sanderson & Sons (1884-1923), and Sanderson & Holmes (1923-c1970); plus family papers of both Holmes and Sanderson
Extent10 boxes, 16 outsize volumes/items
RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Full Catalogue ListClick here to view a full list for this collection
Archive CreatorSanderson & Holmes of Derby (1923-c1970), coach builders/motor car body builders
Holmes & Co. of Derby (1803-1923), Burton-on-Trent, Lichfield, London and Sheffield, coach builders & harness makers
Administrative HistoryIn December 1958, an advert for Sanderson & Holmes in The Leicester Graphic read "When the history of the English coach builders is written the name of Holmes will appear on one of its earliest pages; for by the time of Elizabeth I's accession to the throne in 1558 the firm's reputation for craftsmanship of the highest quality was already established”. The firm had been created in 1923 by the merger of Holmes & Co. and Sanderson & Sons.

HOLMES & CO. OF DERBY (1803-1923)
The Holmes family of Lichfield had been saddle and harness makers since at least 1552, when the first instance of a Holmes being incorporated as a member of the Lichfield Saddle and Harness Makers Guild is recorded. The firm appears to be unsure what date of establishment to claim, with the post 1863 Design Book (D2696/H/10/4) giving the date as 1780, but later books (D2696/H/10/5-6) giving 1773. Published histories of the firm give 1776 as the date Charles Holmes (1753-1812 or perhaps his father) began building coaches as well as saddles and harnesses.

Charles’ (1753-1812) eldest son, William East Holmes (1783-1861), continued the business in Lichfield, while his brother, Charles (1785-1835), set up a coachbuilding business in Derby, initially on Tenant Street (Holden’s Triennial Directory, 1809) and then on London Street (Holden’s Annual London and Country Directory, 1811), later renamed London Road. A note in an early cash book (ref: D2696/H/2/1) refers to the dissolution of the partnership in 1817, but it is unclear what this refers to as there is no relevant notice in The London Gazette.

The Derby business was bequeathed by Charles to his widow, Ann (b1801), nee Mountford, and subsequently managed by two of his four surviving sons, Herbert Mountford (1815-1893) and Arthur East (1821-1888). Alfred William (1817-1895) rather than Arthur is mentioned in several directories from the 1840s, but from at least 1851 is found as a cotton spinner, living in Duffield and later Makeney. At some point between 1828 and 1835, their uncle in Lichfield entered a partnership with someone by the name Butcher, but this appears to have ceased by 1851 when Butcher appears alone and there is no mention of William East Holmes, who has presumably retired (see 1861 census). Perhaps at this time, Herbert and Arthur took on the Lichfield business as Derby certainly became the senior branch of the firm. Branches had also been opened in London (by at least 1849, and later at Margaret Street), Sheffield (before 1876), Burton-on-Trent (after 1876) and Durban, Natal [South Africa] (source: Kelly's Directory, 1891). The firm received its first Royal warrant in 1841 from Prince Albert, and in 1849 received the first appointment by Queen Victoria. They also supplied carriages to Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (b 1844-1900), Earl Grey, Marquis of Hartington, R. W. Chandos Pole, Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859-1925) and ambulances used during the Crimean War (1853-1856).

The company was well known throughout Europe for their production of the Light Park Phaeton, an elegant and simple light carriage, which they exhibited at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851. Their factory was on the south side of London Street. This latter thoroughfare extended from The Spot to Traffic Street and was subsequently incorporated into London Road. In addition to manufacturing new carriages and coaches, including many bespoke designs for the nobility and gentry, Holmes & Co. sold and hired out second hand carriages and offered a repair and maintenance service.

In April 1876, the Holmes establishments at Derby, Lichfield, Sheffield and Margaret Street were valued at £32,584 4s (plant and stock) (D2696/H/14/2). As of 1911, the firm operated showrooms and factories at London Road, Derby, Union Lane, Sheffield, Bird Street, Lichfield and Horninglow Road, Burton-on-Trent, plus a London showroom at 37-38 Margaret Street, Cavendish Square and works at Great Castle Street, Oxford Circus.

Arthur had retired from the firm in 1884, and Herbert Mountford Holmes (1815-1895) was succeeded by his sons Charles (1844-1927), Herbert Mountford (1847-1929) and George Edward (1849-1915). Well into their seventies, Charles and Herbert arranged the merger of the firm with Sanderson and Sons, forming Sanderson & Holmes in March 1923. Although the Holmes name was retained, and Herbert Mountford Holmes was a director of the new firm, after his death the business was no longer connected with the Holmes family.

Frederick George Sanderson (b1837), purchased the business of Charles Andrews in January 1884 on Midland Road, Derby. He had previously been a coachbuilder in London and Dublin. His sons William Edwin (1862-1942) and Frederick George (1863-?1922) joined him in the business, William being a partner. This partnership was dissolved in 1905 leaving William Edwin Sanderson responsible for the business. Two of his sons, William George (b1887) and Henry Tempest (1888-1970), and his nephew, Frederick, known as William Barre (1887-1949), also joined their fathers in the business, which continued at Midland Road until the purchase of Holmes & Co. in 1923.

From its establishment until at least 1900, the firm exhibited their products at the Derbyshire Agricultural and Horticultural Society annual shows. An 1894 advert describes the range of products and services available: F. Sanderson & Sons, Practical Coach Builders, Midland Road, Derby. Large stock of Carriages, including Landaus, Broughams, Victorias, Dog Carts, Pony Traps, Phaetons, and other carriages. Guaranteed of Best Materials and Workmanship. Large stock of second-hand vehicles. Orders & Repairs executed with punctuality. Estimates free." (Source: The Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 7 Jul 1894).

Both pre-1923 firms made the successful transition from carriage and coach builders to builders of the coachwork for motor vehicles, primarily cars and buses. William Edwin Sanderson (1862-1942) and Henry Tempest Sanderson (1888-1970) were appointed Managing Directors. W. G. Sanderson (b1887) was appointed Secretary and Herbert Mountford Holmes (1847-1929) also served as a director until his death. William E. Sanderson owned 37.8% of the shares, William G. and Henry T. 14.1% each, William Eastwood Ann 9.4% and Harold Edward Yates 23.5%, with 50 shares each for Herbert Mountford Holmes (1847-1929) and Charles Holmes (1844-1927), amounting to less than 1% of the remainder between them.

Following the merger, the Midland Road premises were vacated and the business was consolidated at the London Road site. In 1924, the firm advertises a wide range of services: motor agents and engineers, chassis overhauls and repairs, oxy-acetylene welding and brazing, new body work, private and commercial, body repairs, upholstering, repainting, etc., modernising alterations, all accessories stocked, petrol, tyres, oil, etc., Garage accommodation for largest vehicles, Immediate assistance always available in case of breakdown or accident, Everything for the motorist, Enquiries solicited, Advice given, Best work, Moderate charges, Quick service. Motor Coach Builders & Engineers, London Road, Derby (Source: Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 26 January 1924, p. 10).

In particular, they manufactured coachwork for Rolls-Royce Ltd as well as being official retailers for that firm, Bentley, Jaguar and, later, Daimler and Fiat. In 1956, “Bentley House” in on Victoria Road, Leicester was opened as a showroom for Bentley cards. A little earlier a motor services garage had been opened in Littleover.

In 1963, with brothers H. T. and W. G. Sanderson reaching retirement, Sanderson & Holmes Ltd merged with Mann Egerton & Co. Ltd of Norwich. The name Sanderson & Holmes was initially retained and Laurence Sanderson (son of H. T. Sanderson) remained as company director and secretary. Mann Egerton was bought out by Inchcape plc in 1973.
Administrative History Sources- Wills of Charles Holmes (1809/1813) and Charles Holmes (1836) at Staffordshire Archives, available via
- Newspaper articles available via the British Newspaper Archive, (British Library)
- 1841-1911 census returns
- D2696 Archive of Sanderson & Holmes Co., and predecessors
- Derbyshire Parish Registers, available via; Staffordshire Parish Registers, available via
Custodial HistoryThese records were deposited with Derbyshire Record Office in September 1983 by the firm who acquired the Sanderson & Holmes premises in Derby. Further records were purchased by Derbyshire Record Office following an auction in February 2024.

Items deposited in 1983 are distinguished in the catalogue through the inclusion of a Previous Number.

According to Mr H. T. Sanderson, “Many of the priceless records, dating back hundreds of years had, unfortunately, been lost or destroyed”, unidentified news cutting, entitled “The Running of a large garage: Task explained to Belper Round Tablers”.
AppraisalWhere there were exact duplicates, the copy in the best condition was retained.
ArrangementD2696/H Holmes & Co. of Derby (1803-1923), Burton-on-Trent, Lichfield, London and Sheffield, coach builders & harness makers
D2696/HF Holmes family of Derby
D2696/S F. Sanderson & Sons of Derby (1884-1923), coach builders/motor car body builders
D2696/SF Sanderson family of Derby
D2696/SH Sanderson & Holmes of Derby (1923-c1970), coach builders/motor car body builders
Organisation Sub-TypeMotor services
Vehicle manufacturers/products
Finding AidsThis collection is currently being re-catalogued, June 2024.
Related MaterialSee
- D769/B/8A/80/3 Receipted account: items 1868-1873: Herbert & Arthur Holmes, carriage makers: the late R Curzon, 1874
- D4983/UL Arbitration papers in case between Herbert Holmes and Company and Derby Urban Sanitary Authority, relating to erection of carriage work showrooms in London Road, 1889
- D2375/E/C/2/5/1 Letter of apology from Hubert Holmes, Carriage and Harness Manufactury, Derby to Mr Palmer at Calke Abbey, relating to a carriage of Sir John Harpur Crewe, 1846
- D2375/F/J/1/3/28/1 Leather binder containing illustrations of a light carriage of Holmes and Co., early 19th cent
- D118/ZZ/1 Charles Holmes', coach and harness maker's bill, 1817
- D5192/18/8 Letter from Noble and Rolls of Cornwall Road, Stamford Street, London, to Messrs Mousley and Barber, re debt of Mr Charles Holmes of Derby, coach maker, 7 Jun 1833
- D5336/2/7/12 Papers relating to Thomas Pares III's entrance into Derby as Sheriff in March 1845; including estimate from Holmes of Derby for provision of coach landau, 1845

See Derby Bygones for memories of former Sanderson & Holmes staff:
- Terry Sexton 'Guy owned the first XK150 Jag in town', 18 Nov 2003, p. 26
- Terry Sexton 'Crash bang wallop, what a picture...!', 25 Jan 2005, p. 3
- Jerry Kelly 'Champagne sales with the Major', 8 Feb 2005, p. 3
- Tony Bradley 'Staff cars spotted by former employee', 8 Feb 2005, p. 7
- Alfred Vick 'My magical time at car firm', 1 Mar 2005, p. 7
- Sarah Powlson 'There were some gruesome sights answering police calls at crashes', 10 May 2010, pp. 4-5
Coach builders
Coach building
Carriage and wagon making
Motor vehicle industry
Motor vehicles

Sanderson & Holmes of Derby, coach builders/motor car body builders, and predecessors

Sanderson & Holmes of Derby, coach builders/motor car body builders, and predecessors

Sanderson & Holmes of Derby, coach builders/motor car body builders, and predecessors

AcknowledgementsWith thanks to Roger Jennens, cataloguing volunteer for supplying key details for the Administrative history. Derbyshire Record Office is very grateful to The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries for matching financial grants to enable the record office to purchase the material auctioned in 2024, as well as to The Carriage Foundation for facilitating the purchase of the material.
Archivist NoteRe-catalogued and updated to ISAD(G) 5 July 2024, BS.

Show related Persons records.

Related Names
Name (click for further details)
Derby; Sanderson & Holmes; 1923-c1970; coach builders/motor car body builders
Derby; Sanderson & Sons; 1884-1923; coach builders and motor car body builders
Holmes; family; Derby; coach and motor car body builders
Derby; Holmes & Co.; 1803-1923; coach builders and motor car body builders
Sanderson; family; Derby; coach builders/motor car body builders
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