Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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H. Collier and Sons

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March 1903.
March 1903. Matchless Car-ette.
December 1903.
August 1923
October 1923. Models, prices and specifications.
May 1925.

of Plumstead Road, Plumstead, London.

1899 Brothers Harry and Charlie Collier first experimented with powered cycles.

1901 They produced an experimental version with the engine was crammed into the space between the seat tube and the rear wheel but it was not successful.

1902 They then went into production using a 2.75hp MMC engine that was hung from the frame downtube. Both brothers became successfully involved in competition.

1904 A more powerful machine was produced, fitted with a 3.5hp MMC engine. They also produced a forecar with either a De Dion or MMC engine, and a pillion attachment for the solo.

1905 Added suspension to their machines; produced a model fitted with a 6 hp JAP engine on a spring frame.

1906 The forecar was dropped and replaced by a rigid model with a 5hp Antoine V-twin engine. Other models were produced using various engines. Both brothers had success in competition were selected for the International Cup Race.

1907 At the first TT race, Charlie Collier led from start to finish and, until a valve broke late in the race, Harry lay second. The 3.5hp Antoine engine was replaced by a JAP

1908 As a result of the racing successes and the demand for the motorcycles, the business was incorporated as H. Collier and Sons, to build Matchless motorcycles with their father Henry H. Collier as chairman; Harry became general manager.[1]

1909 Road models used JAP engines - 2.5hp and 3.5hp singles and a 6hp V-twin. Rigid or spring frames, two-speed gears and ignition options were available, while the 3.5hp White and Poppe engine was also an option. Early in the year Harry set a twenty-four hour record at Canning Town, averaging over 32 mph, despite problems and delays. Further success came when Brooklands began to run motorcycle races, and there was another win at the TT.

1910 Competition success continued and, by now, the brothers had taken three of the first four races at the TT. The range expanded and the main engine in use was the JAP, along with some V-twin Peugeots. Belt drive remained.

1911 All models, including the 5hp V-twin ohv TT model, had JAP engines. Harry came second in the first TT held on the Mountain circuit, and Charlie came second in the Senior but was later disqualified. That was the last of their major successes at the TT.

1912 and for the next few years, production was mainly twins, some fitted with a modified version of the Zenith Gradua gear to vary the ratio. Many models came and went and by the beginning of the First World War, the range had narrowed considerably.

1913-24 Produced a car

1915 During WWI some machines were built for service use although the firm was not contracted to make motorcycles for the army. They announced proposals for a flat-twin, three speed engine, but nothing came of it.

Post WWI The company continued to produce the model they had supplied to the army - this was listed as the Victory and sold in solo or sidecar form. New, bigger and better models were added year on year throughout the 1920s.

1923 Advertised Matchless cars for sale (see advert).

1928 Maker of motorcycles and motor-cycle side car combinations capable of transporting 3 people, which were much cheaper than the small cars then available. The company floated Matchless Motorcycles (Colliers) Ltd as a public company[2] and was then liquidated[3]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Nov 19, 1928
  2. The Times, Nov 19, 1928
  3. The Times, Nov 18, 1932