The head of the firm of McNaught & Co., Mr.J.A.McNaught, was for over half a century acively connected with the business life of the City of Worcester. He was born in Kendal, in Westmorland in 1828, his father being a coachbuilder who had a business there in the days when the road coaches were the swiftest form of travel. Mr. McNaught was appointed to a Liverpool firm and after gaining experience in Edinburgh, he went south for health reasons. He spent a few years with Messrs. Wyburn & Co. of Longacre, and when there was responsible for the design of the prize chariot of the Great Exhibition of 1851. He came to Worcester in 1856 and went into partnership with Mr.Kinder, who carried on business as a coachbuilder in the Tything. When Mr. Kinder retired from the business his place was taken by Mr. Thomas Lamb Smith, a well known Worcester man, and on his death a cousin of Mr. McNaught's, Mr. J.B.Aldren, became associated with him.
Mr. McNaught applied himself with much devotion and enterprise to the business so that it developed greatly and the firm acquired a world-wide reputation. They built carriages for a number of the Indian Princes and carried on a large export trade to many parts of the world. The premises in the Tything were extended and became one of Worcester's principal business houses. The firm also had showrooms in London and a branch in Liverpool and when the latter was given up a branch establishment in Broad Street, Birmingham, took its place.
Speciality was the building of State coaches and at one time, McNaught & Co. kept nine of these for the conveyance of the King's Justice's They were used in various counties, amongst those frequently supplied being Worcestershire, Glousestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Lancashire and Westmorland. Lancashire was pre-eminent in the state maintained, four horses always being used to draw the coach and javelin men in attendance. The High Sheriff's Coat-of-Arms was engraved on the javelin blades and painted on the silken banner attached to the trumpets, as well as the door panels of the coach. The use of a State coach by the High Sheriff was discontinued about 1915, as a war-time economy, and never resumed.
A State Coach specially built in 1887, at a cost of about £1,000, was also kept by McNaught & Co., together with two State chariots, for use by the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of London. The Lord Mayor's Coach was often seen in the firm's Worcester Showroom after being sent down to the Works for its annual overhaul. After the outbreak of the first World War the London premises were disposed of and the coach sold to one of the London coachbuilders.
A newspaper cutting, dated January 1887, describes the Annual Service held by the employees of McNaught & Co: " The extensive galleries and showrooms, which are admirably adapted for the purpose, had been cleared for the occasion and tastefully decorated with festoons of evergreens, flags, Chinese lanterns, heraldic decorations, pictures, mirrors etc. The arrangements were entirely carried out by a committee of the employees, the proceeds being for the benefit of the Sick Club connected with the Works". The company numbered about 350, including wives, sisters and friends. Among them, Mr. McNaught, who presided, Mrs., Miss and Master Arnold McNaught, Mr., Mrs., Miss and Masters Aldren, the Very Rev. the Dean of Worcester, the Rev. W. and Mrs. Gardiner, the Rev. J.H. and Mrs. Scott, Mr. Petford, Mr. and Mrs. Temple-Bourne, Mr. Sutton Corkran and Mrs Corkran, Mr. F. Powell, Mr. and Mrs. John Wood, Mr. Ernest and Miss Larkworthy, Mr. and Mrs Harry Day, Mr.and Mrs Cochrane and Mr. and Mrs Yearsley.