Thomas L Devlin's


Thomas L Devlin's Daimler with his son, Robert, in the driving seat

Robert Devlin in the driving seat of his father's Daimler

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Darnie Devlin, Inverleith, Edinburgh,  Darney Devlin is son of Robert Devlin in this photo.


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    Robert Devlin in the driving seat of his father's Daimler


Thomas L Devlin's Daimler

Devlin Family

Robert Devlin is the young, well-dressed man sitting in the driving seat of this old Daimler.  The Daimler belonged to his father, Thomas L Devlin, who founded the business of Thomas Devlin, Trawler Owners  based at Granton, in the 1880s.

Thomas L Devlin

   A painting of Thomas L Devlin, founder of Thomas Devlin & Sons

Robert Devlin may have been still at school when this photo was taken.  He went on to run the Thomas Devlin & Sons Ltd business until his death in 1926 when the operation of the business passed to his brother,  also named Thomas L Devlin.



Where was the Daimler?

This photograph appears to have been taken in a yard, somewhere, with its cobbled surface and old cart in the background.  If you recognise where it might have been taken, please e-mail me.

Thank you.  - Peter Stubbs:  October 24, 2006

NOTE:   The Devlin family lived in the Newhaven/Trinity district of Edinburgh.  Their trawlers sailed from Granton Harbour, The company had a ship repair yard close to Granton Harbour.



Reply from

Grant King

Thank you to Grant King, Aberdeenshire, now working in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for sending this reply:

Grant wrote:

Thomas L Devlin's Daimler

"I noticed that there was a barrow at the side of the Daimler and you can also just make out some other bits and pieces.  Might the photograph  have been taken in Devlin's Yard?

When I started my apprenticeship at A&R Hepburn they also had a barrow which, as an apprentice,  you would use for every trawler you were working on to fetch and carry repair parts back and forward. The Devlin apprentices did the same.

This was all ways a great break from the workshop, unless you had to haul a sheave up from a trawler by hand when the tide was out.  Mind you, it was handy having a father who was a crane driver.

Devlin's Yard

I used to pass Devlin's yard in Lower Granton Road, close to Granton Harbour just about every day on my way to school.  It always caught my eye as it was the only place left at that time that still had cobbles down.

When looking into the yard, the cobbles used to lead up to a grass mound which had a flag pole mounted which looked like a ship's sailing mast.

I remember, in my younger years,  in the early 1960s, standing outside the entrance to Devlin's yard  waiting on the car he had in those days pulling out,  just to see the fantastic bonnet mounting.

Never mind your Jaguar or Rolls Royce. This was a replica trawler. That man knew how to spend his money.  That was the way to spend it!"

I now wonder, when he wafted by in his car in this period, whether or not he had a rye smile on his face as just about all the house doors along Lower Granton Road to about the Wardie Hotel were painted Devlin green. (I wonder where the paint come from ??????)

Grant King, Aberdeenshire, now working in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil::  December 13+14, 2006.



Reply from

John Devlin

Thank you to John Devlin, Florida, USA for sending the comments below.  John is the grandson of John Devlin, brother of Thomas L Devlin who owned the Daimler.

John wrote:

Advert for Chauffeur

"I expect Thomas got one look at Robert sitting behind the wheel of his very expensive car and decided to look for some professional outside help to handle the driving chores.

This advert appeared in 'The Scotsman, 24 December 1914."


CHAUFFEUR MECHANIC WANTED at once for Trinity district.  Must be sober and experienced with knowledge of Edinburgh district.

Apply  Thomas L Devlin, Granton


Chauffeur Driven to School

"Seeing the picture of the Daimler with Robert at the wheel reminded me of something that my father told me when I was quite young and riding to school on the trolley.

When he was a young man going to private school, he was often driven in his uncle Thomas' "fancy car with a chauffeur".

I  thought he must be kidding me until I saw the picture.

He said he didn't like being driven in the car because his school chums would give him a hard time about it.  That may be another reason why he left home at 15 and joined the navy"

John Devlin, Sun City Center, Florida, USA:  December 14, 2006

John Devlin was born 1932.  He is researching the Devlin family history.  John is grandson of John Devlin whose brother Thomas Leishman Devlin founded the business of TL Devlin, trawler owners, Granton, in the 1890s.



Reply from

Steve Campbell-Wright


Thank you to Steve Campbell-Wright, Pre-war Registrar, DLCV, Australia, for the following message.

Steve wrote:

1909 Daimler

"You may already be aware, but this is a 1909 Daimler. It is either a 22hp or a 38hp, and my money is on the 22hp for the moment. This was one of the first of the sleeve-valve cars. Is sports the optional wooden removable wheels.

I own a similar car, which is as yet un-restored. The side-lights are electric, which Daimler was very early to adopt. However, this car has brackets for kerosene lamps as well, which is the first example I've ever seen.

This is a wonderful photo of a wonderful car. It's not known to have survived. There are only three of each type (22hp and 38hp) surviving from 1909, although the ex-John Bland car (reg LB8864) in the UK is very similar."

Steve Campbell-Wright, Australia:  April 9, 2007

Daimler and Benz

I spoke, today, to Darney Devlin, son of the young man in the driving seat in this photo, and grandson of the owner of the car.

Robert Devlin in the driving seat of his father's Daimler

Darney still has modern car that carries the registration number of the old Daimler, WS102, but he doesn't know what happened to the old Daimler.

Darney tells me that his grandfather, the owner of the old Daimler later owned a Benz, and that certainly didn't survive.

Darney remembers instructions being given in the Devlin ship yard, at the start of WW2, for the Benz to be taken to their other workshop and dismantled so that its chassis could be used for a  bogie being constructed to move equipment to and from the Devlin Yard in connection with the naval contracts for vessels in Granton Harbour being taken on by T L Devlin during the war.

Peter Stubbs: April 9, 2007

Steve sent this follow-up message on April 11, 2007:

1909 TC22 model

"I'm now certain that it's a 1909 TC22 model, not the 38hp. Two distinct identification features confirm this, although other features that I use are not visible in the photo.

The wheels only have 12 spokes, while the 38hp wheels have 16; and there is only a single ridge at the lower edge of the radiator head, indicating that there is no brass trim. 

While this might all sound a little esoteric, it's great from a Daimler historian's point of view because there are so few confirmed photos of 22hp cars from this period, especially with the factory landaulette body."

Steve Campbell-Wright, Australia:  April 11, 2007

Steve added:

Only Three Remaining

"Only 3 of these cars remain worldwide. One is in driving condition in England, and the other two are here in Australia. One is in very poor condition, while mine is very sound but not fully restored yet."

Steve Campbell-Wright, Australia:  April 13, 2007


Reply from

Darney Devlin


Registration Number

Thank you to Darney Devlin, son of Robert Devlin, the young man in the car in this photo for telling me about the registration number of this car, WS102.

Robert Devlin in the driving seat of his father's Daimler

This registration number was passed down through the family.  The modern car that Darney drives today has the same number WS102.

Darney told me:

Edinburgh and Leith

-   Edinburgh Council used the 'WS' series of registration numbers (but followed by 4 digits) after their 'S' series of numbers was exhausted.

-  The 'WS' series  was originally issued by Leith Council.  (Edinburgh and Leith were separate boroughs until they amalgamated in 1920.)

-  Leith started issuing 'WS' numbers at the same time as Edinburgh started issuing 'S' numbers.

Darney Devlin:  Inverleith, Edinburgh:  November 21, 2009



T L Devlin (Trawler Owners)


Family Car





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