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The story behind the kangaroo.......
In the latter part of the 19th Century, Walter Edwin Sturgess departed Leicestershire for Australia to seek fame and fortune. He found neither! However, following a string of jobs including working in hotel kitchens, he did find a young lady who coincidently had also emigrated to Australia from Leicestershire, a girl by the name of Emily Greatorex. They were married in 1888, in Melbourne.
After living in the outback for a while, in a house made mostly of corrugated iron, they worked their way back to the UK by taking various jobs on the ship including painting and decorating the officers quarters. On arrival back in England, they made for Leicester eventually settling in Kirby Muxloe where they subsequently brought up 5 children.
In 1897, Walter established his business, Walter E. Sturgess & Sons, assembling bicycles which he called 'Austral' and his trade mark was a kangaroo, on a shield. This emblem was attached to every bicycle built. From bicycles, Walter designed, built and patented a wickerwork trailer that could be towed behind a bicycle, and in later years, a motor bike. The original premises occupied by the business were located on the corner of Cranmer Street and Shaftsbury Road, in the west end of Leicester.
In 1904, a move was made to new premises and Walter adopted the Rover cycles franchise that year. As the business grew, larger premises were needed and in 1912, a bespoke building was constructed in Braunstone Gate, again in the west end of the City. A feature of this building were 6 large kangaroo emblems, located in the facade of the building. Unfortunately, the building was recently demolished but we were able to salvage some of these kangaroos and investigation showed them to be made of extremely substantial cast granite concrete mix that was quite rare for its day.
'Skipping' some decades to the 1940's and the acquisition of the Jaguar franchise in 1947 and Land Rover in 1948. Further premises were needed and duly obtained in Charles Street, Leicester which at the time was a very fashionable part of Leicester. It is known that our then Managing Director, Mr. Frank Sturgess took a lot of inspiration from the expensive London dealerships of the time, namely Rolls Royce, Bentley and Alvis to name a few. Therefore Charles Street was adorned with plush furnishings, oak floors, brass flower tubs and hung Persian carpets. During this period, 1961 to be exact, the red and white oval kangaroo emblem was adopted and displayed on every new and used car sold. This had a two-fold purpose; on the inward facing side it gave tyre pressure information for the ease and convenience of owners but importantly on the outward facing side, it indicated that the car had been supplied by Sturgess of Leicester. On certain vehicles that had exterior mounted spare wheel, then a cover which incorporated the kangaroo into its design was used.
The Kangaroo is an important part of our business today and features prominently in our promotional materials and work wear. The red and white colouring has remained unchanged since 1961 and the basic design has also remained the same.
We would like to hear from anyone who has spotted a car in a far away country, with the kangaroo displayed. We will forward a prize to anyone who supplies us with a verifiable picture of a car that is the furthest away from Leicester. Send your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.