1929 Baughan 2WD Sidecar Outfit
Some more photos of the machine described in our news section, showing the dog clutch arrangement:
1939 Sunbeam B24S
it hard to justify their high price in the austere thirties. In1937 the firm became part of Associated Motorcycles, formed by Matchless and AJS, another famous Wolverhampton make. Based now at Plumstead, a new Sunbeam range was launched, featuring a new high-camshaft overhead valve engine designed by Bert Collier which was available as a 250, 350, 500 or 600. The 350cc version acquired by the Trust is a rare Sports model, with high compression piston, polished and ported head, check springs on the front forks, sporty mudguards, chromed tank and a high level exhaust pipe. The result is a good looking bike no doubt seen as a rival to Edward Turner’s attractive Triumph Tiger 70/80/90 range. Sadly, the ‘high-cam’ models did not reappear after the war, by which time AMC had sold Sunbeam to BSA. In all only about 600 examples had been made and very few survive. This is thought to be one of only two roadworthy examples left, and is now on display at the London Motorcycle Museum.
The Sunbeam was advertised as the gentleman’s motor bicycle, and built to a very high standard by John Marston of Wolverhampton from 1912. In 1918, tragedy struck the family with the death of the eldest son, followed a few days later by that of John Marston himself, and then his wife only days after that. The Sunbeam company was taken over by Nobel Industries, and remained under their control until they in turn were taken over by ICI in 1927. TT success followed in 1928 and 1929, but despite the quality of their machines, Sunbeam found
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See the article and photo in the news section.
1936 Triumph Tiger 80
During 1936 Edward Turner took over the ailing Triumph factory and decided to update the existing Val Page designed models. This was undertaken in the early stages by enhancing existing models to produce an interim Tiger range until eventually all-new models were able to be introduced. This meant that for approximately five months there was a short production run of what can only be described as a prototype new Tiger 80. Recently the BMCT was fortunate enough to be able to acquire one of these ultra-rare machines. Indeed it is so rare that the Triumph Owners Club were unaware of its existence. Only two others are known to survive and both are in the USA. This bike was manufactured between April and August 1936 and differs from the later Tiger 80 in having different gearbox, a twin-downtube frame and petrol tank with oil pressure indicator instead of a gauge. The front forks feature hand-adjustable damping, and the tool box was mounted adjacent to the top of the rear wheel. Indeed, some of the cycle parts and transmission components bear a marked resemblance to the Val Page designed Triumph 6/1. When the BMCT got this motorcycle it was in the late stages of a long restoration. Unfortunately the two previous owners had been unable to finish the project due to ill health, but as you can see from the accompanying photo, the job is nearly complete. The team at Coventry Transport Museum have now taken on the task of returning this unusual pre-war Triumph to its former glory before it takes its place in the new Motorcycle Hall.
We are delighted to have been instrumental in returning a rare 1920 Martinsyde-Newman to Brooklands where it was built over 85 years ago.The trust managed to fight off stiff competition to buy the bike at an auction where it had been offered for sale by its Dutch owner. Needless to say we were keen to see the bike back in Britain, and John Pulford, Curator of the Brooklands Museum, was equally excited about displaying it back at its birthplace. Martinsyde turned to motorcycle production in 1919 when demand for its aircraft tailed off in the aftermath of World War I. They enlisted the help of Howard Newman, who brought with him the designs for a machine powered by a 680cc exhaust-over-inlet V-twin driving through a three speed AJS gearbox. Among other models planned were single cylinder versions, and early examples were used with some success at Brooklands and in the Scottish Six Days Trial.Sadly, production hardly had time to get established before a disastrous fire ripped through the factory, sending Martinsyde into liquidation. The name and remaining stock were bought by BAT, who made a few more machines before production ended in 1923. Our photo shows the bike with a group of volunteers at the Brooklands Museum.
Revere lightweight motorcycles were marketed by W H Whitehouse & Co, of Friars Road, Coventry between 1915 and 1922, using frames made by Sparkbrook and a 269cc two stroke engine supplied by Villiers of Wolverhampton. Some models were single speed with belt drive, but others featured two-speed gearboxes by Sparkbrook, Sturmey-Archer or Albion. This example of a very rare marque was in continuous use from new until 1932, and subsequently became part of the Potter Collection at Kirkby Stephen, where it remained until the BMCT acquired it in late 2007. The VMCC are aware of only one other example in existence, and the bike is currently undergoing conservation before being placed on display at Coventry Transport Museum.
1923 Beardmore Precision
At one time F E Baker’s Birmingham based Precision company rivalled JAP as a supplier of engines to Britain’s motorcycle manufacturers. They started making engines in 1910, but it was not until after WWI that their first complete machines were made. They were launched as the “Beardmore Precision”, the Scottish engineering company having gained control of Baker’s company. Noted for their leaf-sprung front forks and integral petrol tanks, the bikes gained an enviable reputation in the trials events of the day. Powered by a Precision 500cc sidevalve engine of unitary construction (later machines had Barr & Stroud power units), this unusual machine can be seen at the London Motorcycle Museum.
1921 Humber 4.5 hp
This was Humber’s first peacetime offering after WWI and was based on a pre-war design. The engine had markedly over square dimensions of 75x68mm giving a capacity of 601cc and drove through an advanced all-chain transmission and three-speed gearbox. The machine was renowned for its smooth and quiet running, becoming known as the ‘Silent Humber’ and was thought of in motorcycling circles as ‘Coventry’s finest productionOne of only a tiny number still surviving, this machine was once the property of an official of the Humber Register, and is believed to have had only one owner for the first forty years of its life. It was restored some twenty years ago and was exported to Switzerland, from where it has now returned to be exhibited to the public at Coventry Transport Museum thanks to the efforts of the British Motorcycle Charitable Trust
1924 Hazlewood/Montgomery Combination
Introduced in 1911, the Hazlewood was built in West Orchard, Coventry by a firm established in 1876. The first machine used a JAP 2.75hp engine and had belt drive to a three-speed Armstrong hub. By 1913 they had developed a twin, powered by a 3.5 or 5hp JAP, the larger model featuring a chain-cum-belt transmission. The vast majority of Hazlewood production was exported to the Colonies, which explains why they are rather rare in the UK. Motorcycle production ended in 1924, the final model listed being a 678cc V-twin. This machine is now housed in the Motorcycle Gallery at Coventry.
1918 Lea-Francis 3.5hp
Richard Lea and Graham Francis started out as bicycle makers based in Coventry in 1895. They dabbled in cars in the early years of the 20th century before switching to motorcycles in 1912 with a range consisting of just one model, a high quality 3.25hp JAP engined V-twin with enclosed chain drive. Quickly detachable wheels and silky running were the main selling points, and the price was £69:10s. In 1914 the engine was uprated to 3.5hp and continued until 1921 when a MAG 3.5hp engine and 5hp JAP were offered. George Bernard Shaw was one of Lea-Francis’s better known customers, and they continued motorcycle production until 1924, concentrating thereafter on cars until the nineteen fifties. Another exhibit at Coventry.
1920 Diamond 2.5hp
The Diamond bicycle was made in Sedgley Street, Wolverhampton until 1908 when the firm’s first motorcycles were offered, powered by Belgian FN engines. After WWI they moved to Vane Street and turned out a number of lightweights with Villiers and JAP engines. In the twenties Diamond were bought out by Sunbeam and entered the TT for many years but failed to register any major successes. In 1933 motorcycle production ceased and the company concentrated on making trailers and milk floats along with frames for other motorcycle factories. Currently on display at the Black Country Museum.
The Kerry was marketed by the East London Rubber Company of Shoreditch from 1902 to 1914. A variety of proprietary engines were used, including Belgian FN and Kelcom. The loop frame design was used to circumvent the Werner patent which applied to machines using the crankcase as part of the frame. From 1960-66 Kerry re-entered the market with a range of Italian built scooters. This bike is part of the BMCT display at Sammy Miller’s.
1904 Humber Forecar
Founded by Thomas Humber to make bicycles, the company moved into powered transport building tricars under licence. From 1902 Humber began manufacturing a range of motorcycles and forecars using a single cylinder P&M engine with a two speed chain drive transmission. A 340cc two speed V twin Humber won the 1911 Junior TT and various other variants followed, but the company quit motorcycles in 1930 to concentrate on cars. Now on display at Coventry.
1911 BSA 3.5 hp
Britain’s largest motorcycle manufacturer had its origins in an 18th century gun trade association which became the Birmingham Small Arms Co. in 1861. They branched into bicycle manufacture in the 1880’s, and for the early years of the 20th century were involved as component suppliers to various motorcycle manufactures. In 1910 BSA produced their first complete motorcycle, the 3.5 hp model. This very original bike is in the open storage area at Coventry.
1918 BSA Model K
The 557cc model K formed the backbone of motorcycle production at BSA during and immediately after World War I. It was produced in a huge four storey factory in Armoury Road known as the 1915 Building which was still being used for motorcycle production in 1973 when BSA was taken over by Norton Villiers Triumph. The last machines to be built there were Triumph Tridents. Another bike in the open storage area of the Motorcycle Gallery at Coventry Transport Museum.
Founded by George Bell in 1920, the Banshee company made motorcycles at their works in Crown Close, Bromsgrove until 1928. They used a variety of engines, most notably the 269cc Villiers two-stroke and the 350cc Barr & Stroud sleeve valve. After the closure of the factory George Bell went to work for Triumph.The original works was demolished in 1974 to make way for a new development, but the side door of the factory survives in a display at the Bromsgrove Museum. This machine has been restored by Sammy Miller and can be seen at his museum.
1923 New Hudson 598cc
After six years as a bicycle manufacturer, New Hudson began to make motorcycles in 1909 at their Birmingham factory. Production was interrupted by the war, but by the early twenties their range was impressive. Competition success by riders such as Bert Le Vack, Jimmy Guthrie and Tommy Bullus followed, but in the early thirties the firm was swallowed up by BSA. Part of the new motorcycle display at the Haynes Museum.
1926 Rex Acme 250 cc TT Model
Rex began in Birmingham in 1900 and merged with Allard, a Coventry bicycle maker, in 1902. Meanwhils, the Acme Motor Co. had set up in Coventry to make motorcycles. In 1922 Rex merged with Acme and an illustrious line of TT winners follwed, with Walter Handley being their most successful rider. Handley became a director of the company, but left to ride other makes and with him left the motivation. Production ceased in 1933. This bike currently displayed at Coventry.
1937 Brough Superior SS80
In 1919 George Brough left his father’s motorcycle firm to set up on his own making V Twin machines in competition with his father’s flat twins. Naming his bikes Brough Superior left the public in no doubt as to which were the better machines, in George’s eyes, at least! The Brough works in Nottingham produced bikes with mainly JAP and Matchless engines until 1940 and earned the title “Rolls Royce of Motorcycles”. After the end of motorcycle production the company carried on as precision engineers. Another exhibit at Haynes.
1914 Alldays Matchless
Alldays & Onions made machines like this Villiers engined lightweight at their factory in Sparkbrook from 1903 to 1915. The “Matchless” designation is a model name and there was no connection with the motorcycle manufacturer of the same name. From 1915 the firms products were sold under the “Allon” name and they were produced in a new factory in Small Heath. The last year of manufacture was 1927, when a V Twin with JAP power was produced. On display at the Sammy Miller Museum.
1922 Zenith Bradshaw “Gradua”
Zenith began in 1904 in Finsbury Park, London with the extraordinary Freddy Barnes designed Bi-Car. In 1907 they introduced the Gradua Gear system combining a variable engine pulley with movement of the rear wheel to maintain correct tension of the drive belt. This system was offered until chain drive took over in 1924, and motorcycle production continued in fits and starts until 1950. Another Sammy Miller restoration on show there.
1925 Scott Flying Squirrel
Alfred A Scott was a pioneer of two strokes and produced many innovative designs from his works in Shipley, Yorkshire. Scott himself left the company in 1915 but the name continued to be associated with high performance water cooled models like the Flying Squirrel which produced a heady 24 bhp in 1925! Matt Holder took over the company in 1950 and moved production to Birmingham, where the last “Birmingham Scott” was produced in 1972. This fully restored bike can be seen at the London Motorcycle Museum.
John Wooler’s designs owed more to his love of innovation than to any commercial considerations. He founded his company in 1909 and produced his first motorcycle two years later. After a break during WWI he made a series of fore-and-aft twins with rear suspension. An enduring Wooler feature was a petrol tank that extended past the steering head, and the yellow finish of a bike entered in the 1921 Junior TT led Graham Walker to christen it the “Flying Banana”. From 1930 to 1948 Wooler left the scene, but reappeared in 1948 with a beautifully built flat four. Development ceased in 1955 after Wooler’s death. A stunning restoration by Sammy Miller and on show at Bashley.