Today in Motorcycle History

Paragon Motorcycles of Essex

Paragon motorcycles / cycle cars produced between 1914 and 1921. The original company was called Portway-Cooper Mfg. Co., and also K. Portway and Co of Brantham, Manningtree, Essex.

1914 The first model was built. It had a 2¼ hp, 225cc two-stroke engine with petroil lubrication, chain-driven U. H. magneto, Amac carburettor and two-speed Paragon gearbox. With Radco forks and a torpedo-shaped fuel tank, the machine had a distinctive look.

1915 That model was joined by others of 346cc and 511cc that were very similar except for hand-pump lubrication.

Post-War. As the Paragon Motor Manufacturing Company, they returned with a 358cc two-stroke engine in-unit with a chain-driven two-speed gear and belt final-drive. This was fitted into a spring frame with compression and rebound coil springs, contained in vertical tubes either side of the rear forks ends, and which doubled as supports for the rear carrier. Projecting lugs accommodated the wheel spindles.

1921 By early in the year the makers had gone out of production, but it was not to be the end of the design.

1. A revised design that kept the same features re-entered the market as the New Paragon with a different firm, some 30 miles away at Braintree, and continued for one more season.
2. "Backing for the [Stella Motor Scooter] venture seemed to have chiefly come from Victor [Cox], who had previously run a movie camera shop in Ipswich and cinema at Manningtree (described as a 'Tin-Tabernacle' sort of building) that earlier housed the Paragon Motorcycle Works 1914 - 1923)."
3. Terry Frounfelker of Canada owns a 1926 model.


(1914) Typical Paragon Two-Strokes. The 3 h.p. machine (left) and the 4 h.p. water-cooled model.

Engine - 2¼ h.p. two-stroke, mm., 237 c.c.
Ignition - U.H. magneto, chain drive, enclosed.
Carburetter - Amac.
Change Speed - Paragon counter-shaft two-speed gear box, 5½ to 1 and 11 to 1.
Transmission - Enclosed chain and Pedley belt.
Dimensions - Height of saddle from ground, 28in. Ground clearance, 7in. Wheelbase, 50in.
Lubrication - Oil mixed with petrol, half a pint to gallon ratio.
Other Features - Radco forks. Michelin - tyres, 26in. x 2in. Torpedo tank, holds one gallon.
Price - £28.

Portway-Cooper Mfg. Co., Brantham, Manningtree, Essex.

British Lightweights, 1914


THE Portway-Cooper Manufacturing Co. are a firm which pin their faith in the two-stroke engine. The machines are called the Paragon, and the first of the models to which we wish to draw attention is the 2¼ h.p. ladies' model, fitted with a Paragon two-stroke engine, 64 mm. x 70 mm. ( = 235 c.c.).

Lubrication is by the petroil system. The transmission is by combined belt and chain, the latter being adequately protected, while the two-speed gear box is attached to the counter-shaft. The pattern of the forks should be noted since they are of the single type, and their design is somewhat of a departure from standard practice.

Another model is the 3 h.p. machine fitted with an engine of 73 mm. x 83 mm (= 346 c.c.). Like the first- named, it is fitted with an outside flywheel. It will be noticed, however, that Druid spring forks are provided. The gear is slightly different from that fitted to the ladies model. It is of the double chain type operated by two gun metal expanding ring clutches giving a direct drive on both gears. A kick- starter is also supplied.

A Water-cooled Two-stroke.

Then there is the 4 h.p. model, the engine of which is water-cooled; the cylinder dimensions are 84 mm. x 85 mm (=495 c.c.). It has an outside flywheel and is fitted with automatic lubrication the oil being taken through suction from the sight feed lubricator to the side of the cylinder. A circular recess at the base of this distributes the oil on to the surface of the piston, the surplus lubricant being led through gutters to the main and big end bearings. An auxiliary pump is also fitted to give an extra supply of oil when desired. The same type of two-speed gear is fitted as to the 3 h.p. machine, but the gear box is carried, in this case, in front of the engine instead behind it.

In every respect this model resembles the 3 h.p. machine, except, of course, as regards the fitting of water cooling. This is, as may be expected, arranged on thermo-syphon principle, a radiator of the honeycomb type being employed.

The Motor Cycle, December 17th, 1914. p675 (approx).

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle, period literature.

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