“Since our establishment in 1897, W.E. Sturgess & Sons Ltd. has become one of the most respected names in motor retailing in the U.K. It is not the biggest by any means and has no intentions of being so. We strive to maintain our reputation as a professional company dealing in high quality goods and services. We are also proud of our long association with the City and County of Leicester.”
Having returned from a brief spell in Australia, Walter E. Sturgess founded the business and worked from a small shop on the corner of Cranmer Street and Shaftsbury Road in the "West End" of Leicester. The core activities of the shop were the manufacturing, selling and servicing of bicycles, which led to the small capacity production of canework trailers that could be attached to a bicycle. These were sold under the brand name of "Austral". The business slowly grew and a move of premises was required.
A new shop was occupied on the Narborough Road in Leicester and from here the Austral products were sold alongside motorised cycles from the Rover Cycle Company of Coventry. The onset of motorised transport meant that Sturgess would have to move again and this time it was to be to purpose built premises on Braunstone Gate, Leicester. This became the hub of Walter E. Sturgess & Sons for the next 50 plus years. During this time, the company added the distributorships for Belsize and Maudsley vehicles and expansion continued apace.
In 1922, Mr Frank Sturgess joined the business at the age of 16, and he was to continue his involvement into his early 80's latterly becoming Managing Director and then Chairman. The immediate post-war period was very significant for the company. By this time Rover had a comprehensive range of cars on offer, Sturgess was also representing the Singer marque, and in 1947, were awarded the Sole Distributorship for Leicestershire for Jaguar, shortly before the public unveiling of the XK 120 sports car. In 1948 the Rover Car Company launched what was to become one of the most significant vehicles of the century, the Land Rover.
With the expansion in the business that the Land Rover and Jaguar products brought, and the increase in the other offerings available from Sturgess, another premises move seemed imminent, so a more suitable "shop front" was sought and in 1953, the Charles Street showrooms were opened. In that same year, Frank Sturgess assumed full control of the business on the death of his fat