1909 New Hudson Tourist Roadster with Armstrong Triplex 3-Speed Gear

1909 New Hudson 26″ Tourist ‘No 20’ Roadster

with Armstrong Triplex 3-Speed Gear

Frame number C73339

(Now sold)


This rare roadster is in remarkably good original condition for a hundred-year-old machine.






The New Hudson marque began in the late 1800’s as a bicycle factory in Birmingham, England. The owner, George Patterson, made his first motorcycle in 1902, but as it was not a sales success, no more motor cycles were produced until 1910.

New Hudson used the premises previously occupied by New Rapid Cycle Co, the St George’s Engineering factory. New Rapid Cycle Co were in financial difficulties by 1898. By 1907, Armstrong Triplex gears were being made at the St. George’s Engineering factory. New Hudson Cycle Manufacturing Co Ltd were major customers for the Armstrong Triplex gears, and it is believed that they took over the New Rapid Cycle Co.

From 1910 to 1932, with the exception of years 1915 to 1919 when WWI meant only munitions and bicycles were made, motorcycle production averaged about 2000 each year. The company were always keen on gaining success in motor cycle sport and gained many good results. However lacking the finances of larger companies their best result in the Isle of Man TT was Jimmy Guthrie’s second place in the Senior event in 1927.

In 1932 due to the depression motor cycle production ceased as it was no longer profitable. However, the company continued to make bicycles, and also diversified into making the Girling brake systems for cars.

In 1940 the bicycle factory began to produce an autocycle with a 98cc Villiers engine which was a success. The bicycle factory was purchased by BSA in 1943 and production continued under the New Hudson name. The Girling brake factory passed into the ownership of Joseph Lucas. After the second World War B.S.A. continued to make autocycles bearing the New Hudson name until 1957.

The old New Hudson premises became the Swan Kettle factory in 1933. As you can see from the article below, it is now due for redevelopment.



(Feb 11 2009 by Neil Elkes, Birmingham Post)

Plans to convert Birmingham’s historic former Swan kettleworks into a modern office block have been welcomed by city conservationists. The large Victorian factory where men in overalls once made pots and pans will soon be home to suited office workers sitting at rows of desks. Architects claim the conversion of the landmark building will be as dramatic as Fort Dunlop’s switch from derelict tyre factory to modern office.

The building was initially set to be converted into flats, but with the city living apartment market collapsing, the developer Chord Deeley has decided to turn it into offices. Phil Powell of Online Architects said:

“The Civic Society and Jewellery Quarter Association fully support this refurbishment.

“They like the idea of a public square and the high number of parking spaces, 330, were welcomed.

“It is also ideally placed on the fringe of the city centre, with main transport routes and the Metro nearby.”

The building, which lines Camden Street, started life as a cycleworks, before becoming the Swan Moulinex factory.

A single-storey rear extension will be demolished and turned into a public square leading to a new main entrance. Members of the council’s Conservation and Heritage Panel were broadly in support of the conversion. But Tim Bridges of the Victorian Society was unhappy at some of the changes including a glazed section linking the Victorian section to a 50s extension and an extra storey on the roof.

He said: “I would like to see something more traditional.”




Of particular interest is the bike’s Armstrong Triplex 3-Speed gear.





Armstrong Works, Icknield St, Birmingham

Sturmey Archer had not yet dominated the market in the early years of the 20th century, and there was considerable competition for 3-Speed gears. Armstrong was a major player in the field.

William Reilly invented the Tricoaster three-speed hub for Raleigh. Harry Reilly (William’s brother) set up Armstrong-Triplex Three-Speed Gear Co in 1906, using one of William’s discarded hub designs. Armstrong was Harry’s father-in-law. This caused a rift with the Bowdens of Raleigh, and William Reilly resigned from Raleigh in 1910.

New Hudson favoured the Armstrong gear. Armstrong Triplex was incorporated as a limited company in 1907, with their headquarters the St. George’s Engineering factory. Apparently, when St. George’s Engineering’s New Rapid Cycle Co got into financial difficulties, New Rapid was taken over by New Hudson.

In 1914 Raleigh bought the Armstrong-Triplex Three Speed Co from New Hudson for £6000.

To see the 1904 New Rapid Lady’s Bicycle, PLEASE CLICK HERE








The rear mudguard reflector is a Fairylite.






Published on June 5, 2010 at 4:27 am  Leave a Comment  

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