Star Engineering Co

The Star Engineering Company of Wolverhampton produced cars, lorries and motorcycles.

1876 Edward Lisle and Edwin John Sharratt founded Sharratt and Lisle to manufacture bicycles at a factory in Pountney Street, Wolverhampton.

1883 When Sharratt left the business, Edward Lisle formed the Star Cycle Co but continued to sell bicycles under the Sharratt and Lisle name. The works was moved to Stewart Street.

1896 The company was registered on 16 December, to take over the business of Star Cycle Co (Sharratt and Lisle)

The range of cycles included the "Path Racer", the "Road Racer", the "Light Roadster", the "Lady's Star", the "Lady's Popular Star" and a tandem.

1897 Made the running gear for the Bushbury electric cart which performed well at the trials at Crystal Palace. Produced the first petrol driven motorcar made in Wolverhampton in 1897.

1898 Edward Lisle visited Belgium, Paris and Germany in connection with investigating the possibility of going into car manufacture. "The shareholders would notice £300 expended in the motor-car account. That was in the nature of an investment for future trade. They had bought a motor-car and three motors, and at present were taking these as a pattern..."

The car was dismantled at the works and a copy made with improvements. Automobiles and motor tricycles were produced in buildings on the opposite side of Stewart Street. The first motocycles were tricycles powered by De Dion engines.

By 1899 had formed Star Motor Co and that year annual production reached 10,000 bicycles. Their first motorised vehicle appeared, the Star Motor Tricycle, based on the De Dion.

1902 The firm formed a link with Griffon of France by offering their 2 hp motorcycle import as the Star-Griffon. Typical of the era, it had a vertical engine, belt drive, bicycle frame and rigid forks. The cost was £42.

1902 the Star Motor Company changed its name to The Star Engineering Company.

1902 Star Engineering Co was building motorcars

1903 The Star-Griffon was now 3hp and priced at £46.

Stand 8. Star Cycle Co., of Wolverhampton, show four motorcycles for the first time, and they embody some novel features. Three of them have engines of 1¾ h.p., surface carburetter, coil and accumulator ignition. The oil reservoir is part and parcel of the carburetter case, the feed pump being placed close outside. Another pattern has a Simms engine, with magneto ignition. The frame is well designed, having a long wheel base, and strongly constructed forks and head. A superior motor-bicycle is now being designed for next season. It will have a 3 h.p. motor, with a water-cooled head, the inlet valve being operated mechanically. Simms-Bosch ignition will be used on this machine, as the Star Company have ample faith in this method.

1902 Stanley Show in Motor Cycling, November 20th, 1902.

The Star-Griffon Motor Bicycle.

THE motor bicycle which we illustrate herewith is entirely of French manufacture, and known on the other side of the Channel as the "Griffon," the sole English agents being the Star Cycle Co., Ltd., of Wolverhampton. Taking a line through its recent successes, we can safely say that it is one of the, if not the, speediest motor cycles at present constructed in France, it having won the hill climbs at "Chateau Thierry" and "Gaillon," and only the other day one of this make carried "Genty," the winner of the mile race at Nice.

As will be seen, there is no great departure from recognised practice, the engine, of 2 h.p., being carried in a vertical position at the lower part of the frame, being attached to the down tubes by means of five cradles or clips, thus forming an integral part of it. The ignition is of the usual cell and coil type, and in the carburation the well-known Longuemare is used.

The transmission is from engine pulley to back wheel by means of a specially-stretched circular belt. Two very powerful brakes are fitted, the one on the rear wheel being actuated by a shoe, which presses on the under surface of the rear wheel pulley — a method which we wish was more generally adopted in all makes of motor cycles. There is also another feature we admire, which is the extra strength and rigidity imparted to the frame of this machine by the cross tube or stay on which the tank rests. The Motor Cycle, April 29th 1903

1904 The largest Wolverhampton-based cycle maker

1904 Star Cycle Co exhibited 3 motorcycles at the Stanley Show.

1904 The motorcycle now had a mechanically-operated inlet-valve, braced forks and the option of a free-engine clutch and chain drive. The catalogue for that year also included two trailers which were suitable for use with bicycles or motorcycles. The Star Trailer had a wicker body and was fitted with a comfortable cushion. It had 26-inch plated wheels which were fitted with Warwick or Clipper tyres. The trailer sold for £9. The Star Tradesman's Carrier had a seasoned wood body that was fitted with a lockable hinged zinc top. It had 26-inch enamelled wheels and cushion tyres. The basic trailer sold for £9 and was available with fitted shelves for a small extra charge.

1905 The motorcycles listed were the 3hp and 3.5hp solos, plus a 4hp water-cooled model available as a solo or as a tricar with two speeds.

1905 Four grades of Star Bicycles were offered for the 1905 season. Strong competition developed from German and American bicycle imports from new British motorcycle and car producers.

The company then left the motorcycle business due to inadequate demands and concentrated on cars, presumably (see adverts) as the Star Engineering Co

1905 Star Cycle Co introduced the Starling, 6 hp car but this was soon replaced by an 8 hp model

Introduced the two-cylinder Stuart car which remained in production for three years

1906 J. W. Horsfield was Managing Director and his son was Superintendent.

1906 Star began to fit their own two-speed hubs to bicycles, produced by the Stuart Hub Co subsidiary. They were initially used on the model "A" and model "B" two speed lady's and gent's machines.

1906 In order to reduce losses the decision was taken to introduce the cheap "Starling" car that would sell through cycle agents for £110. This was the first year that the shareholders received no dividend.

1907 The Stuart hub was replaced by Stanley Two Speed and Three Speed Hubs.

1909 Introduced the 10 hp two-cylinder Royal Starling

1909 The Star Engineering Co, the manufacturer of Star cars, took over its previous parent company, the Star Cycle Co and became a limited company; production of Starlings and Stuarts ceased. The designs and production were taken over by the newly formed Briton Motor Co run by Edward Lisle, Junior.

1912 Star Engineering re-entered the motorcycle business.

1912 Late in the year the company returned to two-wheeled power and exhibited a 4.25 hp single of distinctive design. The engine had a detachable cylinder head and an aluminium cover to enclose the valve gear. The firm made its own multi-jet carburettor and the magneto was positioned behind the cylinder. It had many other refinements, plus a drum brake, sprung foot-boards and Saxon front forks.

1913 A similar machine appeared, fitted with a 6 hp JAP V-twin engine. Both models were sturdy and well made, but somewhat weighty. A sidecar was also offered.

1914 Directory lists them as Star Engineering Co., Frederick Street, Wolverhampton and as motor cycle manufacturers.

1914 The 4.5hp model had a single cylinder Star engine with a Star three-speed gearbox, clutch and carburettor. The carburettor was soon replaced with an Amac or Senspray model. The transmission was via a Renold chain and a leather to metal clutch. There was a Bosch magneto and a kick starter. The petrol tank held two gallons of petrol and two quarts of oil. There was a pannier tool-bag which contained a complete set of tools. The machine was finished in black enamel and suitably lined. It sold for 65 guineas. The 6hp machine was fitted with a twin cylinder JAP engine with 76mm bore and 85mm stroke, giving a capacity of 770cc. It had mechanically operated side valves and a counter-shaft type three-speed gearbox. There was a Bosch magneto and an Amac or Senspray carburettor. The machine had a kick starter and the transmission was via a Renold chain, in a chain case and a leather to metal cone-type clutch. The petrol tank held two gallons of petrol and two quarts of oil.

The machine was fitted with 26-inch Dunlop tyres and had a pannier tool-bag which came complete with a full set of tools. It was finished in lined black enamel and sold for 75 guineas. The handlebars had special dropped grips with flats for taking the control gear via four concealed cables. A sidecar model was also built, but very few of these motorcycles were made.

1914 Sales were slow, so after the outbreak of war, the company dropped motorcycles in favour of cars, coaches and trucks. They also built aeroplanes.

1915 Company closed. Mr. Harry Jones, who had been a foreman frame-builder at Star, took over the cycle designs and started to produce his own bicycles at works in Church Lane under the name of Mount Cycles.

Sources: Graces Guide,

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