World War One was to be a time of expansion and increasing profits for Vauxhall Motors Ltd, who arrived in the town in 1905 from London in need of larger premises and with the prospect of a ready and cheap power supply from Luton Electricity Works, opened in 1901.
On April 13th, 1916, company chairman Mr Leslie Walton told a meeting of shareholders in London that all available land adjoining the Luton works had been purchased with a view to future expansion. It was proposed to start immediately with the erection of new offices, new stores and extensions to the running shop.
In the near future it was contemplated that the body shop would be considerably extended, to make it possible to manufacture every type of body suitable for Vauxhall vehicles.
"We look upon this not only in itself a profitable extension, but one which will also directly benefit the chassis production department, by enabling us to turn out the finished article more expeditiously and economically than can be done when a chassis has to be sent away to have a body fitted and then returned to the works to be finally passed and delivered," said Mr Walton.
He said the business had also been made a controlled establishment under the Munitions Act, as from January 1st, 1916. A separate munition factory had been started a year earlier, and up to December 31st, 1915, practically three months full working had been achieved in that department.
"Owing to the abnormal conditions which prevailed in the early days of this enterprise, both in connection with obtaining labour and machinery, we have not been able to enjoy so long a period of full working as we had anticipated," said Mr Walton. "But now that we have got over our initial difficulties, and the factory is in full working order, we hope to increase its output very considerably this year, for the benefit of the country as well as the company."
The motor car works was showing a satisfactory increase in turnover, in spite of the fact it had been unable to obtain anything like a sufficient amount of labour, and had had to work without a night shift during the whole year. But the whole of Vauxhall's car output was being supplied to the War Office.
During the war Vauxhall produced around 1,500 of its D-type models as staff cars. In one of these King George V visited the front at Vimy Ridge in July 1917.
The slideshow reveals the growth of Vauxhall in 1919 plus earlier views from 1905 and 1914, plus an image from the firm's opening day on March 29th, 1905.