The Works

“The Works”
An analysis of the technical, historical and economic forces relating to Lotus production locations. [Complied to benefit enthusiasts and International tourists in 2012]

2012 will experience many international visitors and tourists coming to London for the Olympic Games. Many may wish to include other cultural pursuits and possible pilgrimage to acquaint themselves with the origins of their interests/hobbies.
For this reason the editors thought it opportune to provide our subscribers with details of the Lotus production sites with accompanying information. This will allow or subscribers to appreciate the evolution and economic forces that Colin Chapman and Lotus had to address for viability. This was neither pleasant nor easy on occasions.
The editors take the view that the fullest appreciation of Chapman can not be undertaken without reference to his entrepreneurial skills and the economic imperatives of the era in which he tried to expand and survive. To achieve this some theoretical concepts [economic geography, and spatial economics etc] are introduced with appropriate international economic context.
The reader will also better understand events if economic history is overlaid with Lotus corporate status e.g. significantly when it became plc. and production volumes [Hodges states that 345 cars were built in 1981?]

British Economic History.

Britain enjoyed the advantage of interrelated geographical, geological and socio-economic factors. These included:

  • Moderate climate, Northern European location, island status, ports with access to Atlantic etc proximity to European mainland.
  • Geological: primary raw materials particularly iron, coal, water, and more recently North Sea oil.
  • Empire: invaluable assistance for raw materials, exports , labour and culture.
  • Constitutional and entrepreneurial system favorable to capital investment.
  • Indigenous/ cultural interest in technology and particularly motor sport and aviation.

During the Medieval period Britain underwent the “Agricultural Revolution”. This in many respects was able to provide the momentum and capital for the “Industrial Revolution” to follow. The British Empire also contributed significantly to growth and expansion of the manufacturing base. The Industrial Revolution galvanized around the sources of raw materials particularly coal, iron and water.
During the Victorian era Britain considered it self the “Workshop of the World”. This was driven by the machine and initially fueled by steam and later electricity. Machines made machines and engineers like Brunel [see A&R article] and the great inventors of the 18 &19c were concerned with practical means to increase production and manufacturing capacity. Britain had a good educational system and perhaps a carry over of the Yeoman and craft tradition/ discipline. [See A&R article on Williams &Pritchard]
Throughout the Victorian period the population grew and there was at the later stage infrastructure and welfare.
Its possible now to look back with greater objectivity and realize that the might of the British manufacturing and exporting economy started to peak towards the turn of the century. Other nations industrialized; there was cheaper labour and generally greater competition. There is the theory that economies have stages of development and like humans and can also decline. However about the same period the motorcar became a significant part of personal transport and the economy as a whole.
Britain embraced the motor industry and quite soon had its own mass production mainly centered in the West Midlands. [E.g. Austin] Motor racing was an also a national success and the British provide natural flair in design construction and racing drivers.

The two World Wars have a massive impact. War can either accelerate or deplete economies and new technologies. Colin Chapman was possibly one of the greatest exponents of technological extrapolation [i.e. from the aviation industry aerodynamic theory and the structural construction] it’s often expressed that although Britain won the wars it lost out economically. Post Second World industries were encouraged to disperse for security and this partly encouraged the need for personal transport and commuting. After the Second World War there was a brief expansion that peaked in the 1960’s.Many long term residual problems remained. The infrastructure was becoming old and inadequate, labour and increasing age demographics was no longer competitive and the changing dynamics within the Empire impacted on imports and exports. The 1960’s were something of halcyon decade aided by a youthful market, the availability of credit and North Sea Oil.
This perhaps concealed more serious problems and towards the end of the decade there would be structural unemployment and hysteresis in major industries from coal, shipbuilding, the ports and the motor industry. The 1970’s witnessed slower economic growth and endogenous development.
Some regions suffered disproportionate decline,, low income and high unenmployment. There were also inflationary pressure with a migration of populations and some depopulation from rural areas to the cities Some of these depressed areas would attempt Regional Planning with government assistance and this encouraged some companies to relocate However some economists had reservations about both subsidies and the top down, demand driven and merely reactive response. Some of the incentives included:

  • Financial Incentives
  • Grants; loans and tax concessions
  • Depreciation allowance
  • Employment premium
  • Removal costs allowance
  • Transport subsidies
  • Labour training aids
  • Rent subsidy
  • Infrastructure investment
  • Development controls.
  • [See below vis Lotus move to Hethel – detailed research required if any of these applied]

Structural change and globalization / multinationals were an international phenomenon not exclusive to West and Britain. Also it was during this time that he EEC began to have a greater impact on the British economy. [Both positive and negative, subsidies and regulation control mechanisms etc]
The 2nd Oil Crises had an immediate impact on Western economies not least the motor industry. [It’s believed that in 1974 oil price quadrupled] The post War also had significant impacts on Germany and Japan and with higher levels of technology, investment and different labour culture they possible responded and restructured more flexibly to changing world markets and conditions. They were driven by exports.
The post war era also witnessed the Information Technology Revolution and we are now experiencing a further wave through the Internet. This is also linked with the 20c decline in manufacture and a partial substitution to service industries of various forms [notably banking, finance and insurance in UK] Lotus role in consultancy is an excellent example of research and design being more profitable than manufacture in certain circumstances.

Current International Economic Uncertainty along with further impacts in energy prices will affect manufacturing. The Asian nations who entered their own Industrial Revolutions later have the advantage of the growth driven youthful economies and consumption led whilst the West struggles with the burden of age and decline [economic and demographic]

Economics is a dynamic subject with multi faceted and intertwined relationships not least with sociology, taste and fashion. The motor industry has very generally been a mirror. Post war when petrol was fairly cheap engine size and performance increased and peaked in the 1970’s. Note Lotus has been a manufacturer through the 1st, 2nd
policy and possibly 3rd to come Oil Crises.] Since the pendulum has swung the other way particularly associated with oil price increases and taxation. Sports car manufacturers are very vulnerable to changes in the economy and demand They are more sensitive to oil price, insurance / taxation and disposable income safety and legislation etc. than other products as they may be perceived as luxury items Lower volume sales threaten their very existence and we are only too aware of the specialists who have gone to the wall and multinationals forced into mergers.
It’s against this background that Lotus had to survive. As we examine the production sites we can look quite specifically at events and how Colin Chapman had to be such a ruthless and strategic entrepreneur. Britain has not despite its engineering and manufacturing wealth base done much to help these industries, as Chapman was to discover. Despite this he and colleagues kept the firm alive. It was also the consulting role within Lotus that might have cross-subsidized its other activities.

London The Epicenter of Post War Motor Sport
Carl Ludvigsen’s book “British Racing Green” is an excellent stating point and reference to understand context.
We must not ignore the fact that London had a significant prewar history of motor sport as perhaps best exemplified by Brooklands. London had the population, wealth. Cultural interest and engineering skill base to support this industry. The famous marques of the era include Bentley, Frazer Nash, Vale, and Sunbeam.

As with the rest of Britain throughout the Industrial Revolution London had its system of canals that supplied raw materials and moved manufactured goods to its extensive port network in the east. Along this canal network some of both the large and smaller specialist engineering firms located. Park Royal and Acton [where Vanwall were based] in the West were possibly the greatest concentration where perhaps they were also galvanized by the early aeronautical engineering from the turn of the centaury. Equally the east of London on the larger tracts of cheaper land there was considerable engineering and related factories. Note Ford is based at Dagenham.
Greater London too had motor sport specialist , not without coincidence the Purley Way at Croydon were extensive precision engineering developed supporting the early airport. Trojan for example was based there and they evolved into Elva and early McLaren.

Post war activities intensified and also had the benefit of Crystal Palace racing circuit within ten/ twelve miles of central London. Specialist within the area included Aston Martin, Cooper, BRP, Hill, Scirocco,Royale and many of the engineering specialists who provided competition components. Post war London developed as an International Corporate/Banking /HQ Centre with may multinationals who became willing to provide sponsorship. As in many cases the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.
The greater London area contained:

  • Most significant Motoring clubs and motor sport organizations, [some enjoyed Royal patronage etc]
  • BBC, Press, Publishers motoring magazines and photographers
  • Craft skills continued from middle ages connected with heraldry etc; including coach building
  • Specialist small-scale motor manufacturers [and some large scale transport engineering e.g. buses, trams]. Smiths Industries. [Instruments]
  • Specialists small and or family engineering business.
  • Some of the most significant motor sport participants e.g. Cooper Aston Martin.
  • Some of the most famous drivers and their clubs / nightlife.
  • Prestigious universities like University College where Colin Chapman studied and many professional bodies and Institutions related to motoring trade and engineering had their headquarters and libraries here.
  • Olympia and other International Exhibition Halls [e.g. Motor show]

Colin Chapman was both stimulated by their presence and many contend that he almost single handed went on to establish British motor sport supremacy and wrench this from what had been the prewar dominance of Europe.

Colin could not have established at Hornsey at a better time with the happy coincidence of skilled friends and employees. There was certainly an early momentum but he was to give it a sharp and successful focus. After the derivation of the war and rationing a boost to morale was needed. This would be ignited from a lock up in a quite suburb of North London.

Hornsey: Social and Technical connections.
It was a fortunate coincidence that Colin’s parents located to the Railway Hotel. Colin had happy childhood and many local friends. He experienced the Second World War and entered the post war era with youth and momentum as a result of his drive, enthusiasm, entrepreneurial approach and grasp of technology. London was the epicenter [see below] and DeHavilland etc were close. Britain had to export or die. Science, technology and modern management were in the ascendancy. He was fortunate to meet the Allen brothers and Hazel Williams amongst others locally, who contributed so much [skills. finance, and ideas] and to have access to the 750 Motor Club, and the many amateur-driving opportunities like trials. London via the North Circular would give him almost all he needed to execute the advanced and radical ideas that he conceived.
It ought be emphasized that Colin Chapman started with little capital. He and the enthusiastic band of volunteers had to essentially improvise, innovate and extrapolate every inch of the way. It’s possibly the modest start and lack of capital was an engineering advantage and focused the mind. [They would not be able to have the luxury of getting it wrong and being able to start again.] He also had the exceptional craft skills of Progress Chassis [John Teychenne] and Williams and Pritchard to interpret complex designs.

The visitor is very privileged to see the continuum and thereby trace every link in the chain. Hornsey and the immediate environs are the seed and soil from which Lotus flowered.

  • Colin Chapman was born at the Orange Tree pub Richmond, Surrey .The family moved to North London and it’s within a two-mile radius of Hornsey that Lotus history took off.
  • The Railway Hotel. Tottenham Lane, N8 [One time family home that possibly included stable block. Possibly used by the pub dray/ deliveries or in context of British Rail marshalling yards]
  • Chapman family home [“Colford Lodge’, 44 Beech Drive, Finchley /Muswell Hill London N2]
  • Hazel Chapman nee Williams family home and lock up [244 Alexandra Park Road, Wood Green]
  • 19 Ribblesdale Road/ 41 Church Lane [rear off], Hornsey. [Opposite Lotus works where early Progress chassis welded]
  • The Allen brother’s family home [104 Vallance Road, Wood Green and walking distance from Alexandra Park Road.]
  • Old Hornsey Town Hall, Crouch End [site of BBC programme “The Hour”] Local Planning office –see documents for planning permission application]
  • Alexandra Palace. [Thought to possible location for publicity photographs for Elite and Seven SI]
  • University College London [ where Colin qualified]
  • [All those sites mentioned are in existence]

7 Tottenham Lane, Hornsey, London N8 8PR [C1952 to 1959/60]
Associated stables Tottenham Lane [see A&R article and photographs by Bridget Bishop]
Lotus Design and Administration Office, Tottenham Lane. [From 1957/58]
The “Eleven or Racing Section Building ”

Colin first used a lock up owned by Hazel’s parents then the former stables adjacent to the Railway Hotel. Facilities we know were very rudimentary. Some jobs had to be contracted out. When Williams and Pritchard and Progress Chassis were in the same small complex integration improved.

Colin and his colleagues had an almost phenomenal rate of development and success. Within ten years of start up they had dominated British Club racing, entered Le Mans with success in their class and were on the brink of FI. At the end of the decade they were also producing the revolutionary Elite.
Some visitors will find this incredulous compared with the multi billion pound research centers of today. The editors recommend examination not least to comprehend the scale of achievement with such modest means. This must be one of Chapman’s greatest legacies and inspiration. The triumph of conceptualization and determination over easy money.

The move away from Tottenham was almost inevitable. Although land price inflation and speculation had not taken off in the modern sense in the late 1950’s there was still not sufficient economic priced land available even in North London. [Nb the multistory/ speculative pension fund building commenced in London from the 1960’s onwards]. Planning and the British system of zoning neither helped. Lotus was overtaken by the “Push” factors off rising competition [land and labour] rising costs and overheads, poor communications [or transport links. maneuverability etc], inability to respond to predicted demand. Lotus had volume aspirations for the Elite [and shortly to be followed by Elan]

Delamare Rd, Cheshunt, Herts [1959/60 To 1966]
Colin Chapman bought land and had a new production facility built at Delamare Road Cheshunt. [Herts]. This was a large building and must have been ambitious anticipating space requirement for production car and racing cars. It is almost exactly ten miles due north of Hornsey and forms part of the Lee Valley. Now just outside the M25 in the 1960 it must have represented an acceptable compromise retaining some local connection, acceptable travel distance and links with contractors such as Arch Motors and Williams and Prichard amongst others in the Edmonton area. It offered a space advantage permitting expansion. However it was relatively short lived and the decision to move may have been Chapman’s desire to push Lotus up the prestige ladder and to increase production and export.
The Delamare Road complex in fact comprised two buildings with some thought applied to production economics and flow lines. The Sales and administration offices were in he north building overlooking Delamare Road and located on the first floor.
Many period photographs feature the Elite, Series II Seven and Lotus Cortina being dispatched.
It’s during this period Lotus really started its participation in the highest level of motor sport and success e.g.:
1963 Mk 25 and World Drivers and Manufacturers Championship.
1965 Double FI Championships

Hethel: Group Lotus, Hethel, Norfolk, England, NR14 8EZ. [1966/67 -] & Ketteringham Hall
Hethel is located approximately seven miles south west of Norwich and close to Wymondham. [Off A11]
The criteria that Colin Chapman and Lotus might used to select a site are likely to have included:

  • Generally a site to maximize revenue and minimize costs. [Stating generalisation high revenue- low costs = high profit]
  • Access to Government /Regional aid location incentives [see details above]
  • Skilled labour or trainable labour at low cost
  • Good communication
  • Isolation vis industrial / research secrecy
  • Land availability at low cost vis production flows and future expansion
  • Storage hedge against dealership blockages
  • Test track part and parcel of R&D/ or close proximity
  • Road, rail and port facilities to handle assembly and export
  • Possible airfield or landing facilities / or close proximity
  • Energy supplies
  • Location suitable to and acceptable for senior executives to relocate.
  • Advantage proximity to other specialists
  • Considerations of waste disposal or H&S considerations in plastic body construction etc.

Lotus moved to Hethel in 1966. This was a former air force base. At that precise moment the motor industry was complex; but petrol price were low. Production expansion plans could not have anticipated world events. It’s believed that Chapman may have short-listed other sites including Kent. It’s likely that Motor sport Valley would also be included. [See below] However the final decision may have been a compromise. There were many competing considerations and not least the land valve / proximity /isolation matrix. Its possible the Regional aid / EEC funds applicable at the time might have also contributed to the decision. Such funding was not just economic argument but potentially included political decisions. [It would be good research to discover the Lotus papers, Planning application and Council /Regional Planning bodies recommendations in period. also the financial assistance if any?]

Hethel associated with further World Drivers and Manufactures championships:
1968 Double World Championship
1969 Constructors Championship
1970 Double World Champions
1972 “ “ “
1978 “ “ “

The Future.
The A&R focus is primarily the Colin Chapman era however we retain an interest in the evolution of the mark and study its progress. World economic conditions will have a big impact in coming years possibly more so in the west due to likely decreases in income, and aging population and greater welfare costs. Luxury goods are likely to be consumed less in the West reflecting disposable incomes etc. The Asian countries we have noted are in the reverse cycle of growth. It’s hoped that Protons ownership of Lotus will enable them to survive. EEC policy and that of the British government may also have a significant role [ see arguments about Regional Aid above]
It’s interesting to note that East Anglia promotes its brand advantage as:

  • Strong Transport links and arteries to London etc
  • Air and Sea nodes including seven major seaports
  • Possessing a knowledge economy home to top universities
  • High research spending
  • Technology sector
  • Creative and culture centers
  • Possessing environmental values

The A&R wishes Lotus well in 2012 and with their reentry into FI it its hoped the marque will enjoy competition success again to stimulate production car sales.

Motor Sport Valley
The term valley may be more accurately described as a corridor. The A40 is the backbone. The area geographically comprises a section Middle England. Oxford, Bicester, Banbury, Milton Keynes, Silverstone are the core with a few others centers towards the outer periphery. [Reading / Northampton] Both historically and to the present many of the foremost FI teams are based there. Of course concentrations provide magnetism, competition and rich seam of engineering excellence.
Although Colin Chapman may have naturally considered this location it may not have fitted his business plan or offered the production space he required. The area is relatively prosperous and there may not have been the same inducements here. There is a smaller concentration of motor sport interests in Norfolk based around Snetterton.
Additional and Related Sites.

  • Crystal Palace. South London. Historic Racing circuit associated with many Lotus successes. . The A&R will have a stand at the Revival Sprint on 26 &27 /05/ 2012. [Parking at public transport available]
  • Goodwood
  • Snetterton
  • Caterham Cars. [See A&R article and photographs] 1960 site Seven House, Town End, Caterham Hill, Surrey, CR3 5UG. Current: Station Approach ,Caterham ,CR3 6LB

The A&R Period Recreation of Journey between Hornsey and Goodwood
The editors have produced an evocative descriptive narrative of the imagined journey between Hornsey and Goodwood in the early 1950’s. We will publish this if there is sufficient interest. It’s intended to capture the period feel and accentuates both the Lotus driving experience and the totality of the environmental envelope [Townscape and Landscape]. This may be of interest and assistance to those wishing themselves to complete an “in- period journey” * and for those unable to visit Britain, but none the less aspiring to understand the historical context of the era.

Economic Considerations of the Proposed CCM&EC.
The proposed museum also has to conform to economics. These primarily relate to the viability of visitor numbers. The harsh reality is that tourists in particular prefer to be in central areas like London. The obvious reason is the cost effectiveness relating to the rich, diverse concentrations of culture, entertainment and retail. Similar criteria apply to office space and residential housing. These create premiums.
Museums struggle to be cost effective and to service overheads. Conversely moves outside London or away from easy public transport with lower overheads are likely to see significant drops in attendance and once again the concept is unviable.
The original factory building at Tottenham Lane has many advantages and offers something of a compromise but redevelopment opportunities and lack of appreciation of its historical significance make it vulnerable.
The A&R is pursuing a policy of the virtual museum whilst assembling archive. The proposed business plan is extremely commercially orientated. It sees no contradictions with profitability and cultural/ educational objectives. The other alternatives are a form of traveling exhibition or a link with another institution [for example an existing museum, visitor attraction or perhaps a university]. The editors would be happy to hear from any of our subscribers that may have thoughts how to overcome the economic limitations mentioned. We would add that we see the opportunity for lease back. This would allow an investor to retain the long-term capital increase of the site whilst receiving some contribution.

Economics is a reality of life. Its also subjective and capable of political manipulation, gerrymandering through government policies acted through planning restrictions and financial incentives.
Many economists and industrialists have grave concerns about such cynical practice. They consider it is anti- competition and vaguely disguised subsidy upholding inefficient industries. Their evidence is that artificially supported industries rarely survive, divert investment from free market and are intrinsically corrupt igniting inflation, cost overruns and generally burning holes in pockets. The contra argument is slightly Keynesian in the believe that investment galvanizes expansion and offsets unemployment costs. A bigger picture is that differing nations are willing to more heavily subsidize and under certain conditions/ circumstances industries can be punished despite their more efficient performance.
Such policies have some of the greatest potential in Regional aid. The EEC with its budgets has become one of the biggest players. With population migration drift from the old industrial areas to the south across Europe there is great temptation to try and counter this with regional aid programmes.
However such policies may be subject to international manipulation as multinationals attempt to reinvent them selves and or relocate some production capacity in order to qualify for aid/ and or access. There is some evidence that this can be ultra short term share cropping and destructive. Firms benefit from aid, briefly set up and then vacate when no longer eligible migrating with capital plant but often leaving factories and labour behind.
The subject then takes on both an economic and moral dimension. Such policies have had major impacts on the international motor industry.
This is a subject we cannot overlook and is one to which we will return. There are many attributes to entrepreneurial success and failure. There are concepts of level playing fields, justice and economic ethics.
In future articles in order to give objective and dispassionate analysis to aspects of Colin Chapman we will explore these issues in greater detail. We will also continue to disseminate the progress of the proposed museum and the economic realties it faces.

Appendix: Production sites and Associated Models. [See attached simplified version on spreadsheet.]

John Bale “The Location of Manufacturing Industry” Oliver &Boyd 1976
ISBN 0 05 002901 0 [older text book but providing insightful analysis of Britain in late 1960’s -1970 just prior to 1st Fuel Crisis.
See also Internet sites for Location of Industry Theory [several academic papers available]
Robin Read “Colin Chapman’s Lotus” Foulis/Haynes. ISBN 8 85429 703 0
Peter Ross “Lotus The Early Years”
Autosport Directory 2012
Karl Ludvigsen “British Racing Green”
The Lotus Book by William Taylor
*Our subscribers might wish to consider classic car hire or possible the use of a Caterham Seven.
A&R .The Planning application for the Proposed Museum at the Tottenham Lane site.
Websites: www.britsonpole & Industry
Managing a Legend by Robert Edwards. Foulis /Haynes 1997 ISBN 0854299882 [shortly to be reviewed by A&R]

Lotus Models and Production Location :Simplified.
Type No. Name Location













Seven Tott’Lane,H


Sports-Race Tott’Lane,H


Sports-Race Tott’Lane,H


Sports-Race Tott’Lane,H


Eleven Tott’Lane,H


F2 Tott’Lane,H




Elite Tott’Lane,H


Sports-Race Tott’Lane,H


F1 Tott’Lane,H


Sports-Race Tott’Lane,H


Formula J Cheshunt


Sports-Race Cheshunt


Formula J Cheshunt


F1 Cheshunt


Formula J Cheshunt


Sports-Race Cheshunt


F1 Cheshunt


F1 Cheshunt


Elan,Si Cheshunt


Formula J Cheshunt


Lotus Cortina Cheshunt


Indianapolis Cheshunt


Group7 Cheshunt


F3 Cheshunt


F2 Cheshunt


F1 Cheshunt


Indianapolis Cheshunt


F2 Cheshunt


Elan S3,4 Cheshunt


Club racer Cheshunt


Indianapolis Cheshunt


Tasman Cheshunt


Group7 Cheshunt


F3 Hethel


Indianapolis Hethel


F1 Hethel


F2 Hethel


Elan S3,4 Hethel


Europa Hethel


Group 4 Hethel


F2 Hethel


F1 Hethel


Elan+2 Hethel


Formula Ford Hethel






Europa Hethel


F3 Hethel


Indianapolis Hethel


F1 Hethel


F2 Hethel


F2 Hethel


Seven S4 Hethel


Formula Ford Hethel


Group 6 Hethel


F1 Hethel


Indianapolis Hethel


Europa Hethel






FA Hethel


F3 Hethel


FA Hethel




F1 Hethel


F3 Hethel


F2 Hethel


Elite Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


Sunbeam L Hethel


Esprit Turbo Hethel


Esprit Turbo Hethel


Eclat Hethel


Esprit S3 Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


Eclat/Excel Hethel




F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


Indianapolis Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel


FI&Elan Hethel


F1 Hethel


F1 Hethel




Lotus Carlton Hethel


Esprit SCCA Hethel


Esprit X180R Hethel


F1 Hethel


Pursuit Bike Hethel


F1 Hethel


Road Bike Hethel


Elise Hethel






Esprit Sports GT Hethel


GT I Hethel


Vauxhall VX Hethel


Elise Mk II Hethel


M250 Hethel


“Soapbox” Hethel


Elise V6 Hethel


Europa S Hethel


Evora Hethel


2 Eleven Hethel


Evora Race Hethel


Exos Hethel

1203_clip_image002_0002 1203_clip_image002_0003 1203_clip_image004_0000 1203_clip_image008_0000 1203_clip_image002_0004 1203_clip_image004_0001