Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Norman Tuckwood Downs

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Norman Tuckwood Downs (1875-1936) of Imperial Cycle Co and New Imperial Motors

1875 Born in Nottingham[1], son of Robert Downes, commercial traveller, and his wife Elizabeth[2]

1891 Draper's apprentice in London[3]

c.1899 acquired Hearl and Tonks

1901 Cycle manufacturer, working on his own account, living in Aston with his parents[4].

1901 Having already been established in the bicycle trade, Downs entered the powered market at the Stanley Show. A model was exhibited that had a 3.5hp engine mounted above the front wheel driven by belt. Only one machine was sold and all the others were used by staff.

Produced Imperial motorcycles between 1901 and 1903 in Birmingham. Later the name was changed by adding New in front of it.

1901 It is also said that he created New Imperial in 1901 but no official record of the formation of his earliest company (Imperial Cycle Co) has been found. Official records do show the formation of a limited company in 1908, called the New Imperial Cycle Company.

1911 Living at 32 Bloomfield Road, Moseley, B'ham (age 33 born Nottingham), Manager Cycle Manufacturing and an Employer. With his wife Mabel Downs (age 36 born Wolstanton) and their children Marjorie Elizabeth Downs (age 7 born Birmingham) and Joan Mabel Downs (age 3 born Moseley).[5]

1912 Established the New Imperial Motors Ltd to make motorcycles in Loveday Street, Birmingham.

1936 Died[6] at Barton-on-Sea, Hants[7], which eventually resulted in financial difficulties for the New Imperial company.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1911 census
  2. BMD
  3. 1891 census
  4. 1901 census
  5. 1911 Census
  6. BMD
  7. National Probate Calendar
  • 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