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British Industrial History

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Humphries and Dawes

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December 1914. OK Junior Mark V.
September 1920.
February 1922.
May 1925. OK Junior 292cc Solo.

of Lancaster St, Birmingham

of Hall Green Works, Birmingham, maker of OK motorcycles.

1899 Business established, presumably by Ernie Humphries, presumably selling parts for cycles.

1906 Charles Dawes became a partner in the cycle parts business with Humphries[1]

c.1906 At the Stanley Show, they were appointed direct selling agents for Ecco specialities[2]

The partners expanded their business to include motorcycle parts

1908 Humphries and Dawes, cycle and motor factors, 2 & 4 Lancaster Street, Birmingham[3]

c.1909 Took over parts of the old Abingdon factory in Shadwell and Bath Streets.

By 1911 they had started production of a two-stroke motorcycle[4], in Hall Green.

1912 Located in Lancaster Street; they introduced a new range of motorcycles using 2.5hp, 3.75hp and 4.25hp Precision engines with belt drive and hub gears.

Several OK motorcycles were ridden to TT wins. The partners built a few machines using Minerva and Green engines.

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of motorcycles see the 1917 Red Book

1913 The largest model was replaced by one with a 6hp JAP V-twin engine, two speeds and chain drive.

1914 the OK Junior was introduced, fitted with a 2hp engine, with overhead inlet valve, and drove a two-speed gearbox by chain. Final drive was by belt and other components included an Amac carburettor, Ruthardt magneto and Druid forks. other models were the 3.5hp single and 3hp V-twin, both with OK engines.

1915 The V-twin was dropped and a 269cc two-stroke and a 2.5hp JAP were added.

1916 Only the Junior and the 2.5hp were produced.

1919 After the First World War, there was an overwhelming demand for cheap personal transport, so the firm decided to concentrate on one simple and affordable model. This was the OK-Junior, with a 293cc Union two-stroke engine and direct-belt drive. It claimed to be the 'Ford' of the motorcycle world. Arrangements were made to produce 20,000 a year by 1921.

1920 By the middle of the year, 2,000 Juniors per week were leaving the works, when the option of a 269cc Villiers engine was available. Demand soon fell as the post-war buyers' market waned.

1921 To increase appeal a two-speed Albion chain-cum-belt version was listed.

1922 A three-speed Moss-geared model was added.

1923 The range began to expand in a serious way as two four-strokes with Blackburne engines joined the two-stroke.

1924 A 349cc oil-cooled ohv Bradshaw and 348cc ohv Blackburne with three speeds and all-chain drive were produced.

1925 Those same models were seen again, with a few modifications. Burman gearboxes were standardized, with the Moss as an option.

1926 A new version of the Junior was announced - three speeds, all-chain and with dummy belt-rim brakes to both Veloce moved into the Hall Green works.

1926 Humphries and his partner Fred Dawes decided to split the business – Dawes wanted to stick to making pedal cycles. Humphries set up OK-Supreme in new premises, offering an attractive range of sporty motorcycles mostly fitted with JAP engines.

1929 Struck off the register of Companies[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Dawes
  2. The Quest for King Dick, by William Whiteley
  3. Kelly's Directory
  4. [2] National Speedway Museum
  5. London Gazette 17 December 1929
  • The British Motorcycle Directory - Over 1,100 Marques from 1888 - by Roy Bacon and Ken Hallworth. Pub: The Crowood Press 2004 ISBN 1 86126 674 X
  • [3] Ian Chadwick's motorcycle web site
  • [4] Miscellaneous A-Z Classic and Vintage Motorcycles web site