Dunkley Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Dunkley Scooters

Jamaica Row, Birmingham, England

The National Archives reveal "Tenancy agreement for shop in Jamaica Row and Upper Dean Street: W H Dunkley, perambulator manufacturer... 1887" so we assume that is the time that the company established their business. The following is extracted from Mark Daniels' excellent Dunkley article:

  • Versatility was the key to survival in Victorian times and a catalogue of 1880 illustrates their imagination: “Prams, rocking horses, see-saws, pedal tricycles, hobby-horse tricycles, mail carts, steam circuses & roundabouts with organ complete

    In 1886 they commenced production of a series of "gas cars", which came equipped with a rubber tube for refilling off gas street lamps! Various models of motor cycles appeared around 1913, and a 3 1/2hp Dunkley fitted with a 499cc Precision engine was entered into the 1914 Senior TT by G N Norris. It completed three laps before retiring. Despite diversions into other varied products, prams remained a constant in the core business. Appearing at the 1922 Motor Show, and powered by a 1hp Simplex engine, the Pramotor was a mind-boggling creation!

1959 Dunkley Popular Scooter

49cc 4-Stroke OHV Fan-Cooled 2-Speed

A very rare scooter, the Dunkley Popular was only manufactured for one year as W.H. Dunkley ceased trading in the same year.


Fitting this machine with a British-made 49cc four-stroke engine was a good marketing strategy in a mainly two-stroke moped and scooter market. Another good sales ploy was the Popular’s price and advertising claim: ‘A scooter for the price of a moped.’

The styling owed a lot to the German scooterettes. Mercury Industries was associated with Dunkley; the 1956 Mercury Hermes Scooter was a copy of the German Meister Solo Roller. The Mammut was also a Meister clone.

While the convergence of mopeds and scooters – developing into the ‘Scooterette’ – was a logical progression, and Dunkley were right to produce this model, especially with a four-stroke power unit. Unfortunately for them they were not the only company to have developed a 49cc four-stroke scooterette. Because, in 1958, the Honda Cub made its debut in Japan. Life would never be the same again.

Read more about Scooterettes at the Cyclemaster Museum

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