Today in Motorcycle History

Carlton Motorcycles

Carlton of Lockhurst Lane, Coventry; also in Worksop (see below), and quite possibly in Scotland.

Frederick Hanstock established Carlton Cycles in Carlton-in-Lindrick, Nottinghamshire, in 1898 (1).

Carlton were motorcycles produced from 1922 to 1940.

They do not appear to be related to the Carlton Motor Co of Cricklewood 1902-1903.

1920 The firm began selling NSU and other marques.

1922 In February, the first machine was exhibited at the Scottish Motorcycle Show. It was a lightweight with a 269cc two-stroke Villiers engine and a choice of single or two speed with clutch and kick starter. It is believed that these machines were retailed by James Grose under the Grose-Spur badge.

Sun Cycle and Fitting Company supplied frame tubes (and possibly complete frames) along with other fittings, and engines were sourced from JAP, Villiers and Sturmey Archer. The sidevalve JAP machines were sold for around £35, with lighting an extra £5. A Sturmey-Archer overhead-valve motorcycle appeared in 1930, but by then the economic climate was grim and production slowed dramatically.

1933 As the economy recovered, so did the firm, becoming a limited company that year. The Carlton company was joined by Norton tuning wizard Dan O'Donovan who in addition to being an excellent tuner and a Brooklands racer, proved quite the businessman.

Now based at Clarence Road, Worksop (between Sheffield and Lincoln), they produced a neat lightweight using a 3-speed 122cc Villiers engine housed in a loop frame with blade forks. It had leg shields and was priced at £17 8s. 6d.

Shortly before the war the Carlton Cycles business was sold to the O'Donovan family, and Fred Hanstock established Hanstock Engineering with his nephew Gordon.

1940 Post-World War II, the company only produced bicycles.

The 1934 address is given as Bridge St, Worksop by, which also writes that the firm moved briefly to Malty before returning, and that they built "some of the world's most famous racing bicycles". The page says that bicycle production was put on the back-burner for some time whilst Hanstock concentrated on motorcycles constructed using JAP and Sturmey engines. Production dates are not mentioned, but it appears they were built before 1934 when they moved to Bridge St. They then moved to larger premises in "a former grain store" in Clarence Road (around 1937).

Carlton Cycles then moved to a former brewery on Dock Road - this was the fifth premises the company had occupied. The story continues with the involvement of Raleigh, but no motorcycles were produced post-war.

Carlton 1937 125cc

A particularly sturdy well-built lightweight - the 125 c.c. Villiers-engined Carlton


Sturdy and Well-equipped Lightweight with a 125 c.c. Villiers Engine-gear Unit

CARLTON CYCLES, LTD., Clarence Road, Worksop.
" Carlton 125 " Model. 125 c.c. single-cyl. two-stroke Villiers engine-gear unit; - petroil lubrication; flywheel magneto . ignition; all-chain drive; 3-speed gear with hand control; fuel. 2 gals. 2.375-19 tyres. Price with lighting, speedometer, horn and licence-holder (solo), £27 8s. 6d.

A PARTICULARLY neat little two-stroke model was a feature of the Carlton stand. This machine is so neatly proportioned that it appears to be much larger than it really is. It has a low yet comfortable riding position. The layout is simple and straightforward, and the 125 c.c. Villiers engine-gear unit is mounted in a sturdy loop frame.

The specification includes such de luxe items as legshields, wide and deep mudguards, tool-box and carrier - yet the price, including direct lighting and speedometer, is only £27 8s. 6d. The shapely saddle tank is finished in black, with gold lining.

Earls Court Show Report, The Motor Cycle, Sept 30th 1937.

Notes: Date of establishment is given as both 1896 and 1898.

Sources: Graces Guide,,

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