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British Industrial History

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New Imperial Cycle Co

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1906. Imperial motorcycle 500cc. Exhibit at the National Motorcycle Museum.
1906. Imperial motorcycle 500cc. Exhibit at the National Motorcycle Museum.
1912. 500cc JAP engine. Exhibit at the National Motorcycle Museum.
1912. 500cc JAP engine. Exhibit at the National Motorcycle Museum.
November 1913.
Exhibit at the Brooklands Museum.
February 1922.
June 1924.
May 1925.

New Imperial Cycle Co Ltd of Loveday Street, Birmingham, Maker of New Imperial cycles and later motorcycles.

of Princip Street, Birmingham

T. A. " Peerage, Birmingham." T. N.: Central 7051.

The history of New Imperial goes back to the early days of the bicycle industry in Birmingham.

From 1887 a precursor company made bicycle fittings and, later, complete bicycles, possibly after Norman Duckwood Downes (sic) bought the ailing bicycle business of Hearl and Tonks (founded 1892).

1901 It is said that Downes created Imperial Cycle Co in 1901, but no official record of the earliest company formation has been found.

1901 Imperial made their first motorcycle. The engine was mounted forward of the handlebars with a leather belt driving the front wheel. It failed to sell.

1901 a "New Imperial" Motor Cycle was exhibited at the "Stanley Show," London.

1902 At the Stanley Show they had a 2hp model.

1903 They were no longer in the market.

1907 The production of Imperial Motor Cycles commenced on a small scale, and this increased steadily.

1907 SHAREHOLDERS of the Imperial Cycle Company Ltd were given notice that, in accordance with the Companies Act, 1862, the Final Extraordinary General Meeting for the dissolution of this Company, confirming the sale of its assets to the New Imperial Cycle Co. Limited, as per Special Resolution passed on December 13th, 1907, and confirmed on 30th December, 1907, will be held at Lower Loveday - street, Birmingham, on Monday, February 8th, 1909.[1]

1908 Official records show the formation of a limited company called the New Imperial Cycle Company.

1908 Stanley Show: London showroom/offices at 62 Holborn Viaduct recently opened. New model for 1909 was the "Girplex" with a duplex cross frame. The company did all its business through the trade, supplying machines under the Imperial name or with the agent's own transfer.

1910 A motorbike went into production using a 293cc JAP engine.

1911 "... pursuant to section 188 of the Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908, ... a Meeting of the creditors of the New Imperial Cycle Company Limited will be held at the Grand Hotel, Colmore-row, Birmingham, on Monday, the 16th day of October, 1911, at twelve o'clock in the forenoon, for the purposes provided for in the said section"[2], namely voluntary liquidation of the company.

1912 The registration of a new company, New Imperial Motors, is recorded; the company offered a range of three motorcycles, all using JAP engines; it was based in Loveday Street, Birmingham.

At this time another new company seems to have been established by Downs as New Imperial Cycles Ltd (see advert)

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

1913 A 6hp V-twin model was added to the range, which continued until 1916. The firm first raced in the TT.

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

WWI Made motorcycles for the Russian, American and British armies, as well as Mills bombs and other munitions.

1922 Directors: N. T. Downs (Managing), and A. J. Williams. Specialities: cycles, motor cycles and cycle-cars.

1927 New Imperial Motors (1927) Ltd was incorporated as a public company, which continued the business.


Further information can be found at the New Imperial Owners' Association web site. [1]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. London Gazette 29 December 1908
  2. London Gazette 10 October 1911
  • The Encyclopedia of the Motorcycle by Peter Henshaw. Published 2007. ISBN 978 1 8401 3967 9
  • 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
  • [2] Ian Chadwick's motorcycle web site
  • [3] Wikipedia
  • [4] Yesterday's Antique Motorcycles web site
  • [5] Cyber Motor Cycles web site
  • [6] The 'Webshots' web site
  • [7] Made in Birmingham web site
  • Miller’s Price Guide to Classic Motorcycles