Villiers Classic Motorcycles
Villiers Engineering Ltd was a manufacturer
of motorcycles and cycle parts, and an engineering
company based in Villiers Street, Wolverhampton.
In the 1890's John Marston's Sunbeam had become
extremely successful, by relying on high quality
of production and finish. But Marston was dissatisfied
with the pedals on his machines, which he bought
in. In 1890 he dispatched his son Charles to
the USA on a selling trip but included in his
instructions that Charles must discuss pedal
engineering with Pratt and Whitney in Hartford,
Connecticut and come back with a high class
pedal and the machinery for making it. Charles
said that the Villiers Engineering Co. was "the
ultimate fruit" of his trip to the USA, being
impressed by the production system and the labour
saving devices. He pointed out that "it was
not possible to develop these at Sunbeamland,
which had long been working on another plan,
but it was possible to start them in a new factory".
As a result of the tour, in 1898, John Marston
bought a small Japanning works based in Villiers
Street, Wolverhampton. Under the direction of
Charles, the company made cycle parts for the
Sunbeam company. As the factory was producing
more parts than Sunbeam required, it sold components
to other manufacturers.
1902 was a momentous year for Villiers. Firstly,
John Marston sold the company to his son Charles
for £6,000 on a loan against future profits.
Secondly, it developed and patented the cycle
free-wheel, which every cycle manufacturer required.
The production of free wheels reached its peak
just after World War II, as the company produced
80,000 per week or 4 million per year.
In 1911 engine production commenced, but sales
were slow until 1913 when the first two stoke
was produced. In 1956 Villiers produced its
two millionth engine and presented it to the
Science Museum in London.
In 1957 Villiers absorbed JA Prestwich Industries
Ltd, makers of the J.A.P. engines. In 1962 the
company were claiming that: "jointly the two
companies produce a vast range of two-stroke
and four-stroke petrol engines and four-stroke
diesel engines from 1/3rd to 16 b.h.p. These
are the engines which power many of Britain's
two-stroke motor cycles, scooters and three
wheelers and the great majority of the motor
mowers, cultivators, concrete mixers, generating
sets, elevators, pumping sets. etc."
In the early 1960's the company was taken over
by Manganese Bronze, and in 1966 together with
AMC became part of Norton Villiers. In 1999
Villiers Plc acquired the healthcare company
Ultramind and renamed the company Ultrasis.
|1923 Villiers Sparkbrook 257cc Mk6A
|1958 Villiers Ambassador
||172cc villiers 2L engined, ambassador
statesman motorcycle first registered
23 april 1958, less than 100 manufactured.
||1961 Villiers Gadabout, 50cc
||1967 Villiers Sprite, 246cc
|1969 Villiers 4T Special
||One-off twin top tubed frame, Norton
Roadholder forks and wheel, BSA modified
swingarm and rear wheel.