Hesketh Motorcycles was an English
motorcycle manufacturer, based in Daventry and
The company was formed by Lord Hesketh in 1980,
then after his two ventures went bust from 1984
onwards, the marque has been maintained and
improved by Broom Engineering, now based at
Turweston Aerodrome near Silverstone Circuit.
The project was inspired by Lord Hesketh, who
planned to revive the failing British motorcycle
industry and at the time had a background of
F1 racing being the last private team to win
a F1 Grand Prix, with James Hunt at the wheel.
Lord Hesketh wanted to use the skills and facilities
built up in that pursuit to greater effect and
production of a quality motorcycle was born.
The Hesketh motorcycle was developed on the
Easton Neston estate, with the prototype running
in the spring of 1980 using a special Weslake
engine. The V-twin V1000 (based loosely on the
marketing panache of the Vincent Motorcycle),
offered all sorts of advances; for example,
it was the first British bike with four valves
per cylinder and twin camshafts (although commonplace
in Japanese machines).
After two years of development,
the project was announced to the press and partners
were sought for the manufacturing. However,
none were forthcoming and so Lord Hesketh formed
Hesketh Motorcycles plc. In 1982 a modern purpose
built factory was set up to manufacture the
motorcycles in Daventry.
However, there were numerous problems.
The bikes were heavy, made worse by a high riding
style; and unreliable, with numerous manufacturing
problems adding to an overheating rear cylinder
due to lack of air flow. The resultant bad press
combined on top of an under-developed bike,
lack of cash and a collapsing market meant that
after the production of 139 bikes, the company
went into receivership.
The Triumph Motorcycles co-operative
looked at buying the rights to the machine,
as they lacked a new model beyond the aged Triumph
Bonneville. A V1000 machine even appeared with
a Triumph badge on its tank, but Triumph also
lacked funding to buy and develop the machine.
In 1983, Lord Hesketh formed a
new company called Hesleydon Ltd to manufacture
a revamped V1000 with a full fairing, called
the Vampire. However, although the company had
produced a motorcycle with export potential
in mind, the Vampire retained too many of the
V1000's faults and only 40 were produced before
the company closed again in 1984.
Mick Broom was part of the original
development team of the Hesketh marque, and
was based with the development team in the old
laundry at Easton Neston. When the original
Hesketh Motorcycles plc company went into receivership,
Broom was part of a team funded by Lord Hesketh
that supported the owners of the original machines,
offering maintenance and modifications to the
bikes sold. This funded team eventually became
Hesleydon Ltd, who obtained the necessary certification
to sell overseas and went on to develop the
Vampire after requests for a touring version
of the V1000.
Combined with the general down
turn in motorcycle market, the high cost of
the parts and the inability to raise finance
to implement volume production assembly methods,
Lord Hesketh sold Hesleydon to Broom to form
Broom Development Engineering.
Based in the same outbuildings
where the development of the V1000 had begun,
Broom and his team began improvement of the
V1000 into a reliable "gentleman's"
long distance tourer. This included the resolution
of the overheating problems through both increased
oil flow, as well as a radiator to cool the
rearward cylinder. Broom has produced up to
12 motorcycles per annum, as well as developing
the Vulcan and Vortan machine.
In 2006, having been forced to
leave Easton Neston after it sales by Lord Hesketh
to Leon Max, and Max's intention to turn the
stable block into a call centre for his Max
Store clothing brand, Broom Engineering relocated
to Turweston Aerodrome near Silverstone Circuit.
However, just before the move, and at the point
where most items were in packing crates, a robbery
occurred with total value of £40,000 -
including irreplaceable records, tools, and
Eventually, production of the
V1000 and its development models will cease.
This could be due to a lack of engine castings,
the advance of environmental and noise legislation,
or simply the cost of the machine which is now
effectively a hand-built custom. However, Broom
continues to support maintenance and improvement
of the machine.