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British Motorcycles

Kynoch Motorcycles

  • Produced motorcycles from 1904 to 1913.
  • 1900 Illustrated pamphlet describing the patent roller bearing for shafting.
  • 1904 They began with a model fitted with a 2.75hp engine and chain drive. They also built a couple of machines for Hayden, with fuel carried in the frame tubes. The machine also had rear suspension and was powered by a Simms engine.
  • For several years there was no more mention of Kynoch.
  • 1912 The firm re-appeared with a model fitted with a 3.5hp JAP or Precision engine, BSA two-speed gear or free-engine option, and Druid forks.
  • 1913 Only JAP engines were used, either a 4hp single or a 6hp twin, driving a Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub gear. The machine had belt final drive and the single was also listed with direct-belt drive.

Hayden Motorycles

Motorcycles produced in 1904 for F. Hayden of Cheltenham, by Kynochs of Birmingham.

A machine was built that used the frame as a fuel tank. The tubes were larger in diameter than normal, and the oil was carried in a reservoir by the bottom bracket. It had braced forks and a simple form of plunger rear suspension. It was fitted with a vertically mounted Simms 2.75hp engine with magneto and FN carburettor. The drive to the rear wheel was by belt.

At least two examples of the machine were constructed.

Not to be confused with the motorcycles of A.H. Haden, also of Birmingham.


G. Kynoch and Co

Kynoch Limited of Lion Works, Witton, Birmingham 
  • 1834 George Kynoch is born Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
  • 1850 Company established.
  • 1856 Kynoch joins Pursall and Phillips of Whittall Street, Birmingham, manufacturers of percussion caps.
  • 1859 Catastrophic explosion at the company on September 27th, killing 19 of its 70 employees including children, gravely injuring many others, devastating the factory and damaging the surrounding area.
  • 1861 Mr Pursall applies for and is granted permission to build a powder magazine and percussion cap manufactory on a 4 acre site at Witton, a country hamlet in a safer location.
  • 1862 George Kynoch takes over the Pursall and Phillips business. Kynoch begins to manufacture percussion caps at the Lion Works, Witton, Birmingham, later going on to manufacture metallic ammunition.
  • 1870s Moved to the Lion Works.
  • 1870 The fourth explosion at the factory in two years is reported, this one on November 17th killing eight and injuring twenty, including children. On December 9th an even more appalling accident occurs in the neighbouring cartridge factory of Ludlow and Co - possibly a Kynoch licensee - when 17 people are killed instantly and 34 more will die later from their injuries; a national outcry ensues.
  • 1872 George Kynoch purchases a further 19 acres of land.
  • 1877 A rolling mill is leased in Water Street, Birmingham.
  • 1882 George Kynoch owns the second largest ammunition factory in Great Britain on a site of 24 acres, a brass rolling mill elsewhere in Birmingham, a patent lamp business, and a printing office. Daily cartridge capacity is now 400,000 and there are 800 employees. He is about to buy a gun factory and he has even bigger plans for the Lion Works factory and also for political and public service - requiring more money and more personal time.
  • 1884 The company takes limited status. The company was registered on 16 July, as G. Kynoch and Co, to take over the business of the firm of Kynoch and Co, sporting and military ammunition manufacturers.
  • 1886 The new company structure is not proving a success and the company is in serious decline. George Kynoch is elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Aston.
  • 1888 The disputes between George Kynoch and the Board come to a head and he is forced to resign. Arthur Chamberlain joins the Board and is appointed Chairman. He will serve for the next 25 years.
  • 1888/9 Two unsuccessful Kynoch enterprises are disposed of, the lamp factory and the gun business. The metal rolling plant in Water Street, owned by George Kynoch, is bought by the company and an option to purchase is obtained on a larger mill in Lodge Road. These moves give the Company security of metal supply and control over quality. Work is started on a new .303 plant, a Q.F. (quick-firing shell) factory and a fuse-making department. Determined measures are taken to improve quality control. 85 acres of extra land at Witton and Streetly are obtained in order to provide improved magazines and adequate proof ranges. Attempts to change the factory name from Lion Works - too closely associated with George Kynoch - to Witton Ammunition Works are however unsuccessful.
  • 1891 George Kynoch dies in self-imposed exile in South Africa.
  • The Company is complimented by H.M. Chief Inspector of Explosives on its safety arrangements. In addition to its military ammunition work the Company is producing half a million sporting cartridges a week.
  • The Water Street mill is closed and production concentrated at the developing Lodge Road factory; a cupro-nickel casting shop is built at Witton; and a part-time consulting metallurgist is appointed.
  • A serious dispute halts production and all 3,000 employees join the strike which has started over the alleged malpractice of a foreman in using apprentices to do the work of skilled toolmakers. Despite this the Company is generally recognised as one which pays well and treats its employees in an enlightened manner.
  • 1893 Kynochs enter the field of high explosive production by purchasing a Yorkshire company, Shortridge and Wright.
  • 1895 A new factory is built on a 170 acre site at Arklow on the east coast of Ireland to produce cordite. Very quickly gelignite, dynamite and Kynite will be introduced to the range. A second factory is soon planned, this time on a 750 acre site in Essex, christened "Kynochtown". Glycerine will also be produced at the Lion Works, together with soap and candles (7-8 tons of them per week) made from the by-products of glycerine manufacture.
  • A Siemens-Martin steel melting plant is installed at Witton to supply Birmingham manufacturers with a variety of steel castings and to permit the manufacture of shells of various types including armour-piercing. A new Bullet Shop is created. Witton's first rolling mill is laid down together with a casting shop. Its purpose is to satisfy Lion Works's need for the brass required for ammunition production, leaving the Lodge Road factory to concentrate on trade with third parties. The Company is rolling 100 tons of brass a week. There are also plans for setting up plant to make bicycle components.
  • 1896/7 Directory: Advertiser. More detail 
  • 1897 The shareholders are warned that the Company will need to raise further capital to finance this rapid rate of development. They willingly comply and a new company is formed, Kynoch Ltd. with a nominal capital of £500,000 and with Chamberlain still its chairman.
  • 1897-8 A period of further rapid development. At Witton the new bicycle plant is producing 200 sets of components (hubs, pedals and brackets) each week. Large additions are made to the ammunition plants. Lion Works is for the first time equipped to cast and roll all of its cartridge brass. Production of candles reaches 60 tons a week. A Kynoch machine gun is introduced.
  • 1900s By the early years the firm had ten factories in Birmingham, Kynochtown in Essex, Barsnley and Ireland, producing explosives, engines, paper, soap, candles, brass, copper and all kinds of shells.
  • 1901/2 Kynoch acquires various new businesses and premises: the Eyre Street factory of Hadley and Shorthouse, producing nails and brass and copper tubes and wire; a large factory at Stirchley to produce armour-piercing and shrapnel shells; Forward Engineering Co which adds gas engines to their range of machine guns and roller bearings; a paper mill in Ireland; and perhaps most significant of all Accles of Holford Works, a run-down ammunition company on an adjoining 33 acre site.
  • 1906 A second Irish paper mill is purchased. Negotiations start on the purchase of a South African explosives factory. New plant to make soap is installed at Witton and at Eyre Street to make tintacks.
  • 1906 The trading results for the financial year show a big deterioration and those for 1907 reveal an 80% fall in profits from their normal level. No dividend is declared.
  • Shortage of work leads to temporary shut-downs at Witton of the Cycle Department and brass casting workshop, followed by general short-time working except for the steel, shell, soap and glycerine departments. Outside powder suppliers object to the increasing use by Kynoch of its own smokeless powders in cartridge production on the grounds of unfair competition. Kynoch's response is brutal: henceforth it will only accept orders from its own customers which specify use of Kynoch powder.
  • 1910 Acquired Holford Mills that had formerly been the National Arms and Ammunition Co. In 1888 the mill was taken by the Gatling Gun Co for a short time. Later taken over by Accles to make guns but they failed in 1901.
  • 1913 Arthur Chamberlain dies and is succeeded by his son, Arthur Chamberlain Junior. He disposes of the two paper mills and decides to give more attention to metal production. The casting and rolling shops have had long periods of idleness but they are restarted and additional rolling plant is installed.
  • 1914 Manufacturing upon a large scale all kinds of Munitions of War, Sporting Ammunition, Blasting Powder, Fog Signals, Soaps and Candles, Paper, Coins, Metals, Nails, Iron Castings, Cycles, Gas Engines, Suction Gas Plants etc. Employees 5000.
  • WWI Took over the Birmingham Metals and Munitions Co. After WWI, the company was merged into Explosives Trades, along with Eley and other ammunition makers.
  • By the end of the war 3.5 billion small arms cartridges have been produced.
  • 1919 Company taken over by Nobel Industries but retains its name.
  • 1920 John Marston Ltd 'the manufacturers of the world famous Sunbeam cycle and motorcycle' purchased by Kynoch.
  • 1923 Arthur Chamberlain resigns as chairman of the local Board and is replaced by Sir Harry McGowan who is also Chairman of Nobel Industries.
  • The South African explosives interests are transferred elsewhere in the Nobel Industries organisation.
  • The Witton activities of soap, candles, cycles and general engineering products are abandoned. The site's activities now comprise effectively "the ammunition side" and "the metals side". Three departments at Kings Norton, especially involving strip, are re-opened to meet increasing demand.
  • 1924 Three more electric melting furnaces are ordered.
  • 1925 Investment is made "to fit up the old Machine Shop at Witton to undertake metallic work for sporting cartridges and metal sundries". Copper consumption soon reaches 400 tons per month. Despite Eley being the senior partner in the area of sporting ammunition within Nobel Industries, Kynoch succeed in persuading the Nobel Board to concentrate all production on the Witton site. The transfer of plant and personnel from Eley's Waltham Abbey factory, and the transformation of production facilities at Witton, will be a long and gradual process. The Eley name is preserved by renaming all Nobel sporting ammunition "Eley-Kynoch".
  • 1926 A new company is formed: Lightning Fasteners to handle the zip fastener business.
  • 1926/29 Taken over by ICI. The company became part of the newly formed Imperial Chemical Industries, the Witton factory retained as the ammunition manufacturing centre.
  • 1932 Installed a hot rolling mill.
  • 1934 The Strip Mill is producing 500 tons a month and annual Rod Mill capacity has soared to 14,000 tons, Another tube mill, Broughton Copper Co of Salford, is purchased.
  • 1935 Witton's own tube mill is commissioned.
  • WWII Thousands of extra personnel are absorbed, and by 1943, 20,000 people are working at Witton. From eleven factories in 1939, by 1943 the company is running 27 factories on 20 separate sites employing 50,000 people.
  • The Company is asked to design, build and operate a new aluminium plant at Waunarlwydd in South Wales. By 1940 it has a new radiator tube factory operational at King's Norton. By 1941 the Ministry of Supply is building two new ammunition factories at Hayes in Middlesex and Summerfield, near Kidderminster; Metal Group will operate both of these. Negotiations are going on to find additional production capacity at John Waddington in Leeds and in several Kidderminster carpet firms.
  • In 1942 the Metal Group assumes responsibility for another radiator tube factory at Burton. Steatite and Porcelain Products of Stourport (ceramic products) is acquired in 1941.
  • Numerous, often massive extensions are made to existing facilities including no less than three extensions for John Marston which in 1943 is merged with Excelsior to become Marston Excelsior.
  • Amal is moved into new premises due to fire in December 1943.
  • 1953 A plant for surface milling hot-rolled brass strip.
  • 1962 The Metal Division of ICI was reorganised and became known as Imperial Metal Industries (Kynoch).
  • 1964 Installed a new Sendzimer mill.
  • 1977 IMI became independent.
  • 1993 The Ammunition Division is incorporated as Eley.
Sources: Grace's Guide



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