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Sunbeam 1928


Sunbeam sporting model, British motorcycle from 1928. In this year Sunbeam company had become part of the ICI group (Imperial Chemical Industries). Compare: Sunbeam 1939.

[img] Sunbeam was founded by John Marston, who was born in Ludlow, Shropshire, UK in 1836 of a minor landowning family. In 1851, aged 15, he was sent to Wolverhampton to be apprenticed to Edward Perry as a japanware manufacturer. At the age of 23 he left and set up his own japanning business, John Marston Ltd, making any and every sort of domestic article. He did so well that when Perry died in 1871 Marston incorporated his company and into his own. The company began making bicycles and, on the suggestion of his wife Ellen, Marston adopted the trademark brand "Sunbeam". Consequently, the Paul Street works were called "Sunbeamland". John Marston was a perfectionist, and this was reflected in the high build-quality of the Sunbeam bicycle, which had an enclosure around the drive chain in which an oil bath kept the chain lubricated and clean. They were made until 1936.

Above: John Marston and his wife, Ellen (from

From 1903 John Marston Ltd had made some early experiments in adding engines to bicycles but they were unsuccessful, one man being killed. John Marston's aversion to motorcycles did not encourage further development, and so the Sunbeam Motor Car Company Ltd was founded in 1905. However, suffering from a slump which hit car making, Marston was pushed into making motorcycles from 1912 onwards (at the age of 76), for which there was a large and increasing market. Following in the tradition of their bicycles, the motorcycles were of high-quality, usually with a single cylinder, and known as the "Gentleman's Machine". Sunbeam motorcycles performed well in the early days of the famous TT (Tourist Trophy) races in the Isle of Man.

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