British Motorcycles

Birmingham Motor Manufacturing and Supply Co

Rex were motorcycles built from 1900 to 1921. The company was originally founded by brothers William and Harold Williamson as a car manufacturer in Coventry, in 1899.

Rex was one of the first and foremost manufacturers of motorcycles in Britain. Their advertising slogan read 'The King of British motors', and the firm was a true market leader in design and development.

  • 1900 The marque, built by the Birmingham Motor Manufacturing and Supply Company, made its debut at the National Show, Crystal Palace, London. It was a forward-sloping, four-stroke engine positioned within the frame of a safety cycle.
  • 1902 The company, having joined forces with Allard, moved its factory to Earlsdon, Coventry. They then redesigned the model so that the engine was vertically positioned ahead of the bottom bracket.
  • 1903 The design was changed and a 'beehive' silencer added, so that it was incorporated into the right side of the cylinder. Thus, the model had an unconventional exhaust and silencer. That year also brought the arrival of air-ducted engine cooling. A Rex was entered for the Paris-Madrid race, but failed to start.
  • 1904 A combination tool and battery box was fitted between the seat tube, chain stays and rear mudguard on a machine with a 3.25hp engine. Harold Williamson set a new End-to-End record, which he kept until 1908.
  • 1910 Following further expansion, a new engine cradle was introduced. This replaced an outdated version that had been in use since 1902. They also produced 499cc two-stroke Rex Valveless with magneto ignition. This was eventually sold as the PMC.
  • 1911 The Company fired the founders after a boardroom row and with them went a lot of the company"s prestige. Under the new boss, George Hemingway, the firm then went on to make its own engines.
  • 1912-1916 Various models were produced with many being built in the Rex works but sold by the Premier Motor Co of Birmingham. With the onset of war the range shrank and by 1916 only chain-driven, three-speed V-twins were produced. All production then stopped completely.
  • 1920 A three model range appeared consisting of two 4hp singles and a 8hp V-twin - all with three speeds and chain-cum-belt transmission.
  • 1921 The Rex company joined forces with Acme and then became Rex-Acme.
  • Note: Made the first telescopic forks in 1906, and several other innovations including rotary-valve engines and, in 1908, were the first to angle the top tube downward to lower the riding position.
Sources: Grace's Guide

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