A site by SteeringWheelRestoration
Bluemels Brothere were an umbrella stick manufacturer from the East End of London in the late 1800s to early 1900s, they moved to Wolston near Coventry in 1911 and were engaged in celluloid manufacturing. Celluloid was an early type of plastic which could be clad on products such as steering wheels. They also manufactured number plates, cycle parts and accessories i.e. mud guards, handlebar grips etc.
In the early part of the 1900s bicycles and then motorcycles were the new form of transport for the common man, cars generally being for the wealthy. So upmarket manufacturers dominated the market. Bluemels Bros. were experienced with cycles and were experts in moulding celluloid which was ideal for the manufacture of steering wheels, covering aluminium spokes and hollow steel wheel rims as well as wooden rims with celluloid.
Other manufacturers were Dover Ltd., CCC Ltd., and Clifford Coverings.
Many volume car manufacturers used Bluemel services for steering wheels in Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lagonda, Alvis, MG, Invicta, Allard, Riley.
Bluemels were well known for their Brooklands banjo steering wheel with a mottled tortoiseshell finish, made from four sets of stainless steel rods with square spacers one of which had a blue enamelled Blueness Badge this then clamped into a sandwich plate boss.
Bluemels were not the only Company to make a Brooklands wheel, George Ashby of Coventry had been making a very similar wheel from 1929. A black rim made from hard rubber with advertising stating “nine points of flexibility”.
With inferior quality spokes and a round spacer manufactured in 16” 17” 18” and 19” inch diameter. If you look on the rear of one of the spacers you will see a patent number which is the same as the one used by Bluemels so it looks as if Bluemels had bought the patent from Ashby.
Ashby wheels still featured on cars until the late 1930s on Lagonda, Invicta, Singer, Allard and Morgan, these were probably old stock.
But MG appear to have offered the new Bluemels Brooklands wheel in mottled tortoiseshell finish from 1934 as well as black.
Bluemels had prestigious car manufacturers such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Sunbeam and Fraser Nash using their steering wheels.
Some wheels were embossed on the rear with trademark Dover or Doverite, a Bluemels brand another one being Douglas.
Bluemels often sponsored the famous such as Malcolm Campbell with his Bluebird Land Speed car and his son Donald Campbell with his water speed record boat.
Other manufacturers of steering wheels were Wilmot and Breeden who manufactured for Rover Roots Group Humber and started to take the business away from Bluemels.
By the mid 1960s Bluemels were only promoting the Brooklands steering wheel as an accessory and car number plates under Pyramoid brand.
Some specialist car manufacturers such as Jensen, Aston Martin and Bristol still used adjustable Bluemels telescopic bosses; in fact the first 8000 Austin Minis had Bluemels steering wheels.
In the 1960’s cars like the Mini encouraged small accessory manufacturers such as Walsall wheels, Les Leston, Springall, Springalex, Cosmic, Motorlita to produce wood and leather bound steering wheels in many shapes and sizes which did not help stop the demise of Bluemels as a steering wheel manufacturer.
Steering Wheel Restoration has many moulds to recast or remanufacture steering wheels, for Bluemels, Dover, CCC Limited and Wilmott and Breeden.
We have repaired and remanufactured some famous steering wheels such as Donald Campbell’s Bluebird Boat and Malcolm Campbell’s Lagonda and Armstrong Sideley.