Sunbeam Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

John Marston Ltd

of Sunbeamland, Wolverhampton

John Marston was apprenticed to the Jeddo Works of Wolverhampton as a japanner (metal lacquerer).

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 bicycles known as Sunbeams.

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.

1871 He did so well that when Edward Perry died in 1871, Marston took over his company (where he had been an apprentice) 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.

Display 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.

Source: Graces Guide

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