1911 Douglas 2¾hp Model D Frame no. 549484 Engine no. 1711

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Lot 261
1911 Douglas 2¾hp Model D
Registration no. FH 347 Frame no. 549484 Engine no. 1711

Sold for £ 12,075 (US$ 14,926) inc. premium
1911 Douglas 2¾hp Model D
Registration no. FH 347
Frame no. 549484
Engine no. 1711
The Bristol-based Douglas Foundry took up motorcycle production in 1907 with a machine powered by a horizontally-opposed, twin-cylinder engine, and the company would keep faith with this layout until it ceased motorcycle production in 1957. Fore-and-aft installation made for a slim machine with a low centre of gravity, and the design's virtues were soon demonstrated in competition, 2¾hp Douglas machines taking 1st, 2nd and 4th places in the 1912 Junior TT in the Isle of Man. Douglas were quick to realise the advantages of the countershaft gearbox, its three-speed entries gaining the Team Prize in the 1914 Six Days Trial, a conspicuous success that resulted in the firm obtaining a wartime contract for the supply of military machines. Douglas' success continued after The Great War.

This early 340cc Douglas was first registered on 22nd July 1911 and most unusually every single owner over succeeding 104 years is known and recorded, together with the duration of their ownership. 'FH 347' is on the Sunbeam MCC Pioneer Register having been awarded Pioneer Certificate No. 353 in January 1958, at which time it was thought to be 1910. However further research by the current owner, using original Douglas catalogues and archives held by Gloucestershire Council, indicates manufacture in 1911, although 1910 models are very similar, with only detail differences.

The fortunate owner who first put it on the road was Leopold Victor Gough of 26 London Road, Gloucester. It then changed hands on 16th September that same year, passing to a resident of nearby Cheltenham, John Henry Chesterman of 43 St George's Street. A couple of years later, on 12th February 1913, Mr J Douglas Pearson of Greville Lodge, Cheltenham acquired the Douglas. Possibly Mr Pearson upgraded to a larger machine as by 19th May 1913 a new owner, David Lewis of Blacklaines Farm, Birdlip, Gloucestershire was tackling the local hills on 'FH 347'. The Douglas remained at Mr Lewis's farm until after the First World War when yet another local man, Christopher Hoggett of Whiteway Colony, Stroud, acquired it on 5th March 1919.

A year later, Frank Edwin Burgess of Holloway Sanatorium, Virginia Water, Surrey (believed to be a doctor) bought the Douglas and was to keep it for some 26 years. He garaged the motorcycle in large lockup premises belonging to the hospital (photographs on file) and in the same wooden building was a car. Around 1946 a local repair garage, Hayes Bros (Automobile Engineers) was called upon to look at the car (ownership unknown) in Sandy Lane, Virginia Water. George Hayes, the proprietor, spotted the 1911 Douglas under the workbench and acquired it from Mr Burgess after contacting him. George Hayes intended to put the Douglas back on the road for the then increasingly popular 'Pioneer Run'. There was one snag: in the intervening years the magneto had been removed (presumably some time after 1926 as Mr Burgess continued to use the Douglas until that year). George Hayes also had to locate a saddle.

The magneto fitted to these early Douglases is a particularly unusual type with advance/retard lever attached to it. George Hayes advertised for this particular Bosch magneto (Type DAl) and eventually Percy Clare of the famous Clare's Motor Works of Knights Hill, South London came to the rescue (see letter dated 28th March 1957 from George Hayes to Percy Clare). Amazingly, this latter was found in historic papers from Clare's Motor Works already in the possession of the current owner! Fitting of the all-important correct magneto enabled a Pioneer Certificate to be obtained and the Douglas successfully participated in its first Pioneer Run (riding number '167') a couple of months later in March 1958. Mr Hayes rode the Douglas in the 1960, 1961 and 1963 Pioneer Runs and others subsequently.

The Douglas then earned a rest for two decades until local trials enthusiast and near neighbour of George Hayes, Eddie Renham of Egham, Surrey purchased the machine and rode it many times on the Pioneer Run during the 1980s and on into the early 2000s. The current vendor has owned 'FH 347' since 2007 and has kept the engine turned over and occasionally started it. Further research on the machine's Gloucestershire history has been undertaken during this period.

Several 1st Class Pioneer Run awards (medals) and pennants are included in the sale together with an oak plaque displaying some of the early medals this motorcycle has earned. Also included is a plaque denoting the Douglas's inclusion on the Pioneer Register, which can be affixed to the machine. 'FH 347' also comes with a most substantial history file containing comprehensive overhaul/restoration details (correspondence, receipts, photographs, etc), old-style logbook, V5/V5C documents and numerous Pioneer Run programmes.

Saleroom notices

  • We are unable to locate the Frame Number.
Contacts
1911 Douglas 2¾hp Model D Frame no. 549484 Engine no. 1711
1911 Douglas 2¾hp Model D Frame no. 549484 Engine no. 1711
1911 Douglas 2¾hp Model D Frame no. 549484 Engine no. 1711
1911 Douglas 2¾hp Model D Frame no. 549484 Engine no. 1711
1911 Douglas 2¾hp Model D Frame no. 549484 Engine no. 1711
1911 Douglas 2¾hp Model D Frame no. 549484 Engine no. 1711
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25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £2,500 up to and including £300,000;
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