Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: August 04, 2020
Webpage updated: August 05, 2020




The Plymouth motor engineering business of Messrs R Humm and Company Limited was founded circa 1893 by Mr Robert Edward Humm (1871-1938).

He was born in London (possibly Clapham) and was registered in the Saint Saviour's Church registration district, Southwark, in 1871.

In the 1891 census he was a bicycle engineer boarding at the Woodman Inn, King Street, of which the landlord was a Mr Joseph F Westacott.

He claimed to have become involved with motor cars circa 1893 (35 years from 1928). 

Robert Edward Humm married Miss Polly Kate Westacott, daughter of Mr and Mrs Joseph F Westacott, landlord of the Woodman Inn, at the Anglican Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, Devonport, on September 1st 1902.  Their children are listed in Who was Who in Old Plymouth - H surnames.  By  1911 the family were living at 80-81 Old Town Street, Plymouth.

In 1910 Mr Humm took on a partner, Mr Reginald Percy Periton (1876-1946).

In 1928 the works at Alexandra Road, Plymouth, covered 60,000 square feet.  The buildings were divided into six sections: the machine, axle, engine and gear-box erecting shops; the body-building shop; the paint shop; the stores, offices and smithy.  The machinery was driven by a 65hp gas engine, whilst a smaller engine drove the lighting dynamo.  The firm was agent for Humber, Rover, Singer and Sunbeam motor cars.

According to the Western Morning News on March 14th 1928: 'The firm recently secured the block of buildings containing the Repertory Theatre, in Westwell-street, and here they have constructed up-to-date showrooms.  Adjoining the showrooms are a suite of offices where the private Sunbeam cars, of which the firm maintains a large fleet, may be hired.'

Mr Robert Edward Humm was taken ill suddenly while crossing Guildhall Square to catch a bus on Thursday August 4th 1938 and taken by Plymouth Saint John Ambulance to the Prince of Wales's Hospital in Greenbank Road, where he died.  The funeral, organised by Messrs Popham's Limited, took place at Efford Cemetery on Sunday August 7th 1938.  He was 68 years of age.  Mr Humm was an enthusiastic member of the Plymouth (Sir Francis Drake) Bowling Club and also took a keen interest in boxing.  The following employees of the Company attended the funeral: Messrs W H Besant; H Coombe; W Falkner; A Ford; C Horn; H Luscombe; C A Pughsley; and H C Stannard.

One of Mr Humm's longest serving members of staff was Mr William James Mew (1885-1949), who helped him to build the first motor-cycle seen in Plymouth and remained with the Company as head driver of their taxi fleet until his death on Thursday August 4th 1949.  He acted as chauffer to Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and also to His Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor when they visited the Town.

Following the Blitz of the area around Westwell Street and Princess Square and the lack of new motor cars being produced the firm closed their showroom in Westwell Street and consolidated at the works in Alexandra Road, Lipson, where they became agents for Rover cars only.

It would appear that all Mr Humm's sons remained as employees of the business because when he died on Thursday December 19th 1946 Mr Reginald Percy Periton was referred to as being the sole owner of the firm.

Messrs R Humm and Company Limited had ceased business by 1969 but both Mr Arthur Humm and Mr Percy Middleton Humm became driving instructors, the first at 43 Torrington Place, North Hill, and the second at 1 Wolseley terrace, Mutley.