The ex-Henry Stanford, Isle of Man TT
c.1960 Mead Norton 250cc Manx Racing Motorcycle
Engine no. F10M 30289
With motorcycle racing beginning to get back on its feet after WW2, one of the problems faced by privateers was the dearth of machinery suitable for the '250' class. Forced to choose between expensive Continental offerings or obsolescent pre-war machinery, many chose to build their own, there being nothing available from British manufacturers at that time. One of the earliest in the field with a home-brewed 250 special was Ron Mead, a talented engineer from Crewe, Cheshire who built his first downsized Norton Manx in 1949. Mead combined Norton crankcases with flywheels from the Excelsior '250' Manxman, keeping the latter's 67x70.65mm bore/stroke dimensions for a capacity of 249cc, a Velocette con-rod and an ex-Maurice Cann Norton cylinder head with double-overhead-camshaft conversion. The engine was installed in a pre-war 'garden gate' plunger-suspended frame, complete with girder fork, and with Ron Mead himself riding proved competitive enough to finish 4th in the 1949 Isle of Man TT Lightweight race behind two Moto Guzzis and a Rudge. That same year Mead won the 250 class at the Leinster 200 and finished 3rd at the Ulster Grand Prix, further demonstrating the design's potential. The first Mead Norton was later raced by both Fron and Brian Purslow, its creator having gone on to build himself a 250cc Velocette KTT.
Built by Ron Mead circa 1959/1960, the machine offered here represents a different take on the '250 Manx' theme, comprising a wideline Featherbed frame and a double-overhead-camshaft 350cc engine downsized courtesy of a Matchless G45 piston and short-stroke bottom-end. Other noteworthy features include an Albion five-speed gearbox, Norton Roadholder forks, Manx front brake, specially fabricated rear subframe and Velocette KTT rear wheel. Entered as a 'Mead Norton', the machine was ridden by Henry Stanford in the 1960 and 1961 Isle of Man TT Lightweight races, completing four out of the five laps on each occasion (press reports on file). Overhauled during 2002/2003, the Mead Norton successfully completed the Isle of Man TT Parade Laps in 2004 and 2005 and was started again only last month. A full racing fairing comes with it.
- This machine was the property of Harry Stanford and not Henry Stanford as catalogued.