1923 BSA 557cc Model H Motorcycle Combination
Registration no. FU 292
Frame no. B4592
Engine no. R4558
Originally established in 1861 as an armaments manufacturer, The Birmingham Small Arms Company first experimented with powered two-wheelers in 1905 using a standard-type bicycle. This first motorcycle made by BSA used a proprietary engine - probably the Belgian Minerva - clipped to the front down-tube, but it was not until 1910 that the firm introduced a model entirely of its own design and manufacture. This was produced, not at the famous Small Heath works in Birmingham, but at the old Eadie Manufacturing Company factory in Redditch. The acquisition of Eadie in 1908 had brought with it considerable experience in the manufacture of bicycle hub brakes as well as the services of Albert Eadie, who, together with ex-James Cycle Company works manager, Charles Hyde and engine designer, F E Baker, would be responsible for establishing BSA as a motorcycle manufacturer.
Displayed at the 1910 Olympia Show, the first series-production motorcycle to feature the marque's distinctive green and cream tank colours was a 499cc (3½hp) sidevalve single, built initially with single-speed, belt-drive transmission and later on with a three-speed countershaft gearbox in the case of the Model K. Well engineered and equally well made, this first BSA proved an enormous success and for 1914 was joined by a 557cc (4¼hp) long-stroke development. Intended for sidecar duty, the Model H version incorporated a stronger frame and forks, the three-speed gearbox and fully enclosed all-chain drive.
According to information on file supplied by a previous owner, this Model H combination was displayed on the BSA stand at the 1923 Crystal Palace Show and purchased there by John Vere, a police constable living in Lincolnshire. Mr Vere kept the BSA until he was too old to ride it and in the mid-1960s it was sold to C Wylde & Son Ltd, the well-known Leeds motorcycle dealership (see old-style continuation logbook on file). The machine was kept on museum display for most of Wylde's ownership before being re-commissioned and MoT'd for sale in 2007 when it was purchased by the current vendor. Kept in storage as part of the owner's extensive private collection, 'FU 292' has not been used since acquisition, although it has been started recently. Re-commissioning and the customary safety checks will be required before the machine returns to the road. Ideal for this year's Banbury Run, this wonderful BSA combination is offered with the aforementioned logbook, an expired MoT (2008), V5C registration document and a charming (copy) photograph of Mr Vere seated on the machine with his dog in the sidecar.
- We cannot locate a Frame number.