The halcyon days of the Sunbeam motorcycle

B2577 Motorcycle and parts, 'Sunbeam' touring motorcycle, painted metal/plastic, John Marston Ltd, Wolverhampton, England, 1929
Sales catalogue for Sunbeam motorcycles, England, 1929

This charming drawing is from the cover of a sales catalogue for the 1929 range of Sunbeam motorcycles. The drawing shows a man astride his Sunbeam in the English countryside, with an empty country road stretched out behind him. These were the days of little traffic, few road rules and certainly no helmets. Driving and motorcycling could be pure adventure!

The Museum holds a splendid 1929 Sunbeam 500cc side valve long stroke single cylinder motorcycle which is on display the Transport Exhibition alongside several contemporary motorcycles.

B2577 Motorcycle and parts, 'Sunbeam' touring motorcycle, painted metal/plastic, John Marston Ltd, Wolverhampton, England, 1929
B2577 Motorcycle and parts, ‘Sunbeam’ touring motorcycle, painted metal/plastic, John Marston Ltd, Wolverhampton, England, 1929

John Marston Ltd had its origins in manufacturing enamel saucepan and kettles but has no relation to the well known kitchen appliance company of the same name. They moved into pedal cycles and in 1899 John Marsten instructed one of his best engineers Thomas Cureton to investigate the possibilities of the new petrol burning technology for transport. Cureton sent for another worker, Mr Dimsdale who could apparently make a kettle run on wheels given nothing but a hammer and chisel!

Dimsdale built the first Sunbeam vehicle, a single cylinder four wheeler with the help of just one apprentice. Sunbeam went on to produce a series of high quality and award winning cars before it branched into motorcycles in 1912. By the 1920s, Sunbeam motorcycles were renowned for their reliability and superb finish, winning numerous demanding Tourist Trophy races. A fact boasted in their sales catalogue.

Inside cover of sales catalogue for Sunbeam motorcycles, England, 1929
Inside cover of sales catalogue for Sunbeam motorcycles, England, 1929

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