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Author: Jonathan Wood
Publisher: Shire Publications (now part of Bloomsbury)
It all began in 1826 well before motor cars were thought of, when Absolom Harper started making fenders and fire irons in Waddams Pool, Dudley. He was assisted by his sons John and Edward, the firm becoming A. Harper & Sons, but by the 1890s the Black Country iron industry was in decline. However in 1879 John Harper's only daughter, Mary, had married one George Bean, aged 24 and an ambitious bank clerk, from Stamford, Lincolnshire. He had been working for the Birmingham Town Bank since 1874 and in 1875 was transferred to its Dudley branch and so came to meet Mary Ann Harper. In 1884 he left the bank to join his father-in-law's business and when it was registered in 1901 he was listed as its principal shareholder. Some six years later the firm's name was changed to A. Harper, Sons & Bean, with George Bean, aged 52, its chairman.
The 11.9 hp Bean represented John Harper Bean's bid to manufacture Britain's most popular car of the 1920s, however it was a casualty of a tangled corporate infrastructure and sure-footed opposition from William Morris's famous Bullnose Cowley.
Although Jonathan Wood is the author of some thirty-five books on motoring history, the first make he researched was the Bean from Britain's Black Country. As Historian of the Bean Car Club in the 1960s, he obtained a unique insight into the poignant story of the Bean marque when he interviewed the company's former employees, all of whom, alas, have since died.
Out of print