John Marston Ltd
of Sunbeamland, Wolverhampton
John Marston was apprenticed to the Jeddo Works of Wolverhampton as a japanner
1857 At the age of 23, he bought two existing tinplate manufacturers and
set up on his own, John Marston Co. Ltd. Marston was an avid cyclist, and
in 1877 set up the
Sunbeamland Cycle Factory, producing bikes known
Between 1899 and 1901 the company also produced a number of experimental
cars, but none of these were offered to the market.
1898 Bought an engineering company that became Villiers.
In 1859, John Marston bought two existing tinplate manufacturers and set
up on his own as John Marston Ltd, making any and every sort of domestic
1871 He did so well that when Edward Perry died in 1871, Marston took over
his company and incorporated it in his own.
1877 His company began making bicycles in 1877, and on the suggestion of
his wife Ellen, Marston adopted the trademark brand Sunbeam
and the Paul Street works were called Sunbeamland. John Marston was a perfectionist,
and this was reflected in the high build quality of the Sunbeam bicycle,
which had an enclosure around the chain in which an oil bath kept the chain
lubricated and clean. They were made until 1936, and to the end, remained
the best bicycles that money could buy.
1890 Introduced the Little Oil Bath gear case.
1895 Incorporated as a Limited Company.
Diplay advert in The Times for Sunbeam Cycles.
1899 Autumn. Made a 5 h.p. single-cylinder dogcart.
1901 The first production car named as a Sunbeam was introduced
after a partnership with Maxwell Maberly-Smith. The Sunbeam-Mabley
design was an odd one, with seats on either side of a belt-drive powered
by a single-cylinder engine of less than 3hp. The design was a limited
success, with 420 sold at £130 when production ended in 1904. At
that point the company started production of a Thomas Pullinger designed
car based on the Berliet mechanicals. They introduced a new model, based
on a Peugeot motor they bought
for study, in 1906 and sold about ten a week.
1903 Selling Sunbeam
and Mabley cars.
1903 Introduced a six-cylinder car.
1903 Entered a 'cylinder Sunbeam car' in the Glasgow to London motor trial.
1905 Created the Sunbeam Motor Car Company to build the cars but not the cycles and motorcycles.
1914 Directory lists them as Marston, John, Ltd., Sunbeamland, Paul Street,
Wolverhampton and as motor cycle manufacturers
In 1914 John Marston Ltd is listed at 16 London Road, Leicester
as a motorcycle manufacturer with H. F. Bateman as the manager.
1914 Listed as manufacturers of Sunbeam bicycles and motor-bicycles, metal
letters for shop fronts and honeycomb radiators and sheet metal ware for
motor cars. Employees 1,000.
In 1916 they are listed at the same address with F. W. Southern as manager.
1920 John Marston Ltd 'the manufacturers of the world famous Sunbeam cycle
and motorcycle' purchased by Kynoch.
1937 Matchless Motorcycles (Colliers)
Ltd purchased the Sunbeam motorcycle and pedal cycle business of John
Marston Ltd and the directors propose to change the name to Associated
Motor Cycles Ltd.
1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers
Sources: Graces Guide
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