Crests, Cars, Carriages and Class

Manchester coachbuilder Joseph Cockshoot and Co. built horse-drawn carriages for the rich residents of Lancashire and Cheshire. A book of heraldry survives in the company’s archive collection at the Museum of Science and Industry. It provides a record of the crests that were emblazoned on the sides of vehicles.

Cockshoot employed a man to paint family crests on the vehicles both when they were new, and when they had started to peel off or fade. It seems that carriages were brought in fairly frequently to be repainted. For example G. S. Ball had his crest painted in 1889, 1890, 1893 and 1895. The picture below is a sketch of the Ball family crest. Unsurprisingly it features a ball; in a mailed fist, coming out of a crown.

The Crest of the Ball family used on several carriages and motor cars
The Crest of the Ball family used on several carriages and motor cars

When Cockshoot’s clientele started buying motor cars in the 1900s the practice of painting crests continued and there are several examples of previous carriage customers, purchasing motor car bodies from the firm, Mr Ball being a good example of this. He also bought motor cars in 1905 and 1906.

Many crests also came with a motto, often in Latin, but sometimes in English. My favourite example of this is the crest of John Carlisle pictured below. It shows another mailed arm, this time holding a spear threateningly, with “HUMILIATE” underneath. One can almost imagine him overtaking a carriage, or another motorcar and billowing dust in his wake; the boy racer of his day.

"HUMILIATE" the chosen motto for Mr John Carlisle
“HUMILIATE” the chosen motto for Mr John Carlisle

There are many other crests, several included animals such as one on below of a fox, with the much nicer motto which translates to “love conquers all”. This belonged to the Ashworth’s of Alderley Edge, one of Cockshoot’s best and most frequent customers.

“Love Conquers All” the motto of the Ashworth Family

While one might imagine that crest painting on automobiles was short lived, Cockshoot continued to employ a crest-painter up until the start of the Second World War. Whilst motoring had become cheaper and more accessible to those who didn’t have family crests, i.e. the middle-classes, there was still a market amongst the upper-classes for these images of status.



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