OEC Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

OEC Motorcycles - Disambiguation

Martin Shelley of the VMCC* writes:

"I note a few weird things seem to have crept into the OEC material on the EMU, including (it now appears) that fact this company was based in Lincoln!

The Lincoln misconception lingers from many printed and inaccurate company histories which refer to John Osborn (note no 'E' in Osborn) as having started as a motorcycle manufacturer in 1901 when he sold machines with MMC engines, then as the maker of a patent engine pulley with four speeds and then as the OEC in Hampshire where he remained until the company folded post WW2.

Truth is he only built a single MMC-engined machine for his own use in 1901, the 'John Osborne' (with an 'E') who built engine pulleys in Lincoln around 1909 is someone completely unconnected to 'our' John Osborn, and the OEC enterprise started making motorcycles proper post-WW1 for the Burney & Blackburne company who were based in Great Bookham, near Guildford.

These machines were called 'Blackburne' motorcycles, and it was only after that company decided in the early 1920s to concentrate on making engines only, rather than complete bikes, that the OEC company started selling these machines, now badged as OEC Blackburnes (which of course was what they had been since the post-war relaunch of motorcycle manufacture).


P.S. I recently discovered a rare picture of FJ Osborn on his MMC-engined 1901 machine printed in a book about the early days of the motorcycle industry before the motorcycle press started up. This was written in the 1930s by journalist Eric Walford. Curiously it is printed back to front so I have turned it round and this makes the bike correct but the caption is in mirror writing so I have included the original.

* (Martin has been OEC Marque Specialist with the VMCC for 35 years)