Today in Motorcycle History


Sheffield-Henderson were motorcycles produced in Fitzwilliam Street, Sheffield from 1920 to 1923.

Henderson sidecars were made by the Aero works of Fitzwilliam Street.

  • November 1919. The company announced the Sheffield Henderson Motorcycle, designed by Leonard B. Henderson, who was an aeronautical engineer.

    1920 Having previously been well-known for the production of sidecars, the company moved into motorcycle manufacture with a 3hp two-stroke model with their own engine and two-speed chain-cum-belt transmission. It introduced their own design of front fork, with C-spring linking the double tubed girder to the frame head. By late in the year, a 499cc sv Blackburne model had been added, with a three-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox and all-chain drive and vacuum-operated oiling system for the engine. It was ideally suited to sidecar usage. In a relatively short time the make gained a fantastic reputation in speed events. The machine could be had with a side valve or overhead valve Blackburne engine or a Bradshaw engine. The machine had a three-speed Burman gearbox.

    1921 A new model was tried, fitted with the 348cc ohv Blackburne engine.

    1922 That new model was catalogued and sold with a guarantee of 70mph (112km/h). There was also a sporting sidecar outfit with a tuned 545cc sv Blackburne engine and streamlined sidecar. In June, the factory even claimed several world records in the 250cc class. Sheffied Henderson must have been one of the very few makes that placed the toolbox under the top tube behind the steering head, a position that obviated a rather unusual tank shape, an early form of saddle tank.

    1923 The marque did not survive beyond the end of the year.

Sheffield-Henderson Combination 1920

A 4 h p. Henderson sidecar outfit, the engine of which has an ingenious system of lubrication by exhaust vacuum.

4 h.p. Sheffield-Henderson

Showing the system of springing the rider and carrier on the new 4 h.p. Sheffield-Henderson.

Olympia Show 1920

Sheffield Henderson. (Stand 44.)

  • 4 h.p. Blackburne; 85x88 mm. (499 c.c); single-cylinder four-stroke; side-by-side valves; vacuum lubrication; Amac carburetter; Runbaken chain-driven magneto; three-speed Sturmey-Archer gear;. chain drive; 26x2½ in. tyres.

Henderson Sidecars, Aero Works, Fitzwilliam Street, Sheffield. One of the most interesting machines in the Show is the new 4 h.p. Sheffield Henderson and sidecar. It has many unusual features. The metallurgical portion of the design has been considered with more than usual care, and its makers are one of the few firms who know in actual fact what the nature of the material is of which their machines are built. Apart from this the price of £150 is a tempting enough bargain for a good motor cycle and sidecar.

The machine itself is fitted with a 4 h.p. Blackburne. It is in the lubrication of the engine, however, that a great change has been made, as the supply of oil to the cylinder automatically increases with the opening of the throttle. This is effected by shaping the end of the exhaust pipe from the cylinder as a nozzle, and inserting it in the mouth of a second pipe leading to the silencer proper, there being a gap between the two; Exhaust gas rushing down the pipe would cause air to be drawn in through the gap especially after the fashion of the ejector. In this case both nozzle and gap are surrounded by a ball-shaped chamber, which is connected by a pipe with a cylindrical container below the oil tank in such a manner that all the air is sucked out of this cylinder by the ejector action of the exhaust gases, which, of course, varies with the loads on the engine. By creating a vacuum, oil is sucked from the tank through a Best and Lloyd adjustable lubricator. From the oil container a pipe leads to the crank case, and is fitted with a non-return valve, so that lubricant which enters the container is sucked into the crank case every time the piston rises. As a result of this arrangement, the greater the engine loading the greater the amount of oil delivered to the crank case.

As regards the frame of the machine, the construction of the forks and head is interesting, because very large steel balls are used for all the bearings, while the recoil of the front wheel is taken on C shaped leaf springs, which are bolted very rigidly to the forks. At the rear the saddle is fixed upon a cantilever bracket which can be adjusted to give increased or decreased leverage, the load being taken through springs to the frame, so that the rider's weight is entirely sprung. The remainder of the machine is normal, chain drive from the crankshaft to a Sturmey-Archer gear box, thence to the rear wheel through another chain; both brakes act on a rear wheel dummy belt rim.

Olympia Show, 1920

The Motor Cycle, December 2nd, 1920. Page 727

Sheffleld-Henderson 350cc Biackburne 1922

Although a trifle unconventional in appearance, this model of the 2¾ h.p. o.h.v. Sheffleld-Henderson-Biackburne has already won its spurs in the big speed trials.

1921 Olympia Show


In addition to a range of Henderson sidecars for which this Sheffield firm is now well known, two new models of the Sheffield-Henderson motor cycle will be exhibited; one of these will be fitted with the 2¾ h.p. o.h.v. Blackburne engine, and having a frame of rather unique design, which gives an exceptionally low riding position.

This new mount, which is to be sold purely as a sports model, will carry with it a guarantee of 70 m.p.h. A Sturmey-Archer three-speed gear with close ratios and without kick-starter, forms part of its equipment.

The other model is a dual purpose machine having the new 4¼ h.p. Blackburne engine of 550 c.c, Sturmey-Archer three-speed gear, and other first-class equipment. The vacuum lubrication system on this machine is somewhat unique.

The Motor Cycle, November 24th 1921

1922 Olympia Show


With a Speed Reputation.

  • 2¾ H.P. Model.

    71x88 mm. (348 c.c); single cyl. four-stroke; side valves; drip feed lubrication; Amac carb.; chain-driven mag.; 3-sp. gear; clutch and kick-starter; chain drive; 26x2¼ in. tyres. Price: Solo. £72; with Sidecar. £90.

Henderson Motors, Ltd., Fitzwilliam Street, Sheffield. All four of the models on this stand are of the same nominal horse-power and are of the same general lines as regards frame, tanks, and detail. There is, however, a wide difference in the type of engine fitted.

One model, as specified, which has a 348 c.c. Blackburne single-cylinder engine with side valves, is of the touring type with deep mudguards, a carrier, and the fullest of equipment. The next has the overhead valve single-cylinder engine, and the makers claim 70 m.p.h. from the machine as an attraction to those whose sporting instincts favour high speed and dropped bars.

The third machine lies midway, having the same engine as the first model, but special cams and aluminium piston and narrow guards. It is of rakish build. As a variation a fourth model is offered with the Bradshaw oil-cooled single-cylinder engine and mechanical lubrication. All of them are shown with suitable sidecars attached, but the special overhead valve machine appears also as a solo mount. A somewhat unusual outline is given to all the machines by the presence of the tool kit just below that portion of the tank which contains oil and by the curious shape of the tank itself.

Olympia Show 1922
The Motor Cycle, November 30th, 1922. Page 828

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle

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