National Motorcycle Museum (UK)

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National Motorcycle Museum
National motorcycle museum 26a07.JPG
National Motorcycle Museum (UK)
EstablishedOctober 1984
Location Solihull
West Midlands
Coordinates 52°26′40″N1°42′25″W / 52.4444°N 1.7069°W / 52.4444; -1.7069
TypeMotorcycle Museum
Visitors250,000 per year
CuratorNick Hartland
Website Official website

The National Motorcycle Museum occupies an 8-acre (32,000 m2) site in Bickenhill, Solihull, England and holds the world's largest collection of British motorcycles. [1] In addition to over 850 motorcycles, which cover a century of motorcycle manufacture, the museum has conference facilities. It is located close to the junction of the A45 and the M42, close to Birmingham Airport.



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The founder of the museum, construction entrepreneur and self-made millionaire Roy Richards, started collecting good examples of British motorcycles in the 1970s. The museum opened in 1984 with an initial collection of 350 machines.

The museum was developed to include conference facilities in 1985. The museum has become the largest collection of British motorcycles in the world, with over 250,000 visitors a year. [2]

2003 fire

Aftermath of the fire National Motorcycle Museum fire.jpg
Aftermath of the fire

The museum was severely damaged by a fire which broke out shortly before 5pm on 16 September 2003. West Midlands Fire Service investigators concluded that a cigarette thrown away in a designated smoking area was responsible for igniting a pile of cardboard boxes containing old air-conditioning filters. The fire spread very rapidly inside the museum's dropped ceilings which, though conforming to safety regulations, lacked a sprinkler system. The building did have smoke detection and fire alarm equipment which contacted the fire service within minutes of the fire starting, but the fire had taken a strong hold before it was discovered on site. [3]

Staff and people attending a conference helped to save more than 300 historic motorcycles, but three of the five exhibition halls were completely burnt out. 120 firefighters were needed to put out the fire which was visible for 15 miles (24 km). Fire crews were delayed by rush hour traffic and hindered by an inadequate hydrant on site, but the fire was extinguished after about an hour and a half. Many of the museum's rarest and irreplaceable exhibits were destroyed, [4] with the loss of 380 motorcycles. The cost of the fire was estimated at over £14 million. [5]

After fifteen months and a £20m rebuild which included installation of a £1.2m sprinkler system, the museum was reopened on 1 December 2004. 150 of the motorcycles that had been destroyed in the fire were fully restored for the re-opening. Many of the fire damaged motorcycles were restored to showroom condition. [6]

2014 burglary

At about 11pm on 27 August 2014, burglars broke into the museum and stole more than 100 motorcycling competition trophies from a glass-fronted cabinet. The Museum offered a £20,000 reward for information leading to their recovery. [7]


The museum is affiliated to the British Motorcycle Charitable Trust. [8]

The motorcycles on display represent examples of well known makes, such as BSA, Triumph and Norton as well as less well known makers including Coventry-Eagle, Montgomery and New Imperial.

Golden Dream Brough

Golden Dream Brough Superior Golden Dream Brough Superior.jpg
Golden Dream Brough Superior

One of the most valuable motorcycles in the world the Brough Superior Golden Dream, which is the only example of George Brough's show model for the 1938 Olympia show. [1] Hand-built by Brough and Freddie Dixon, the Golden Dream has two pairs of horizontally opposed cylinders, one above the other, with two longitudinal crankshafts to give vibration free running. The two crankshafts shafts are geared together, with one driving the rear wheel and the other driving the oil pump and magdyno. Two Brough Dream Fours were built but World War II stopped development. The second Brough Dream has a black and chrome finish and is in private ownership. [9]

Wilkinson Luxury Tourer

Wilkinson 850 Wilkinson 850cc.jpg
Wilkinson 850

Built by the Wilkinson Sword company before the First World War, the first Wilkinson motorcycles were aimed at military use. Optional accessories included a sidecar complete with Maxim gun, and a steering wheel instead of handlebars. The model displayed in the museum was built in 1912 and is the top-of-the-range four-cylinder water-cooled shaft drive version. [1] Originally air-cooled, the Wilkinson TMC engine was water-cooled from 1911 and described as a ‘Luxury Touring Motor Cycle’.

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rotary engine</span> Internal combustion engine with cylinders rotating around a stationary crankshaft

The rotary engine is an early type of internal combustion engine, usually designed with an odd number of cylinders per row in a radial configuration. The engine's crankshaft remained stationary in operation, while the entire crankcase and its attached cylinders rotated around it as a unit. Its main application was in aviation, although it also saw use in a few early motorcycles and automobiles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">V-twin engine</span> Piston engine with two cylinders in "V" configuration

A V-twin engine, also called a V2 engine, is a two-cylinder piston engine where the cylinders share a common crankshaft and are arranged in a V configuration.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flat-twin engine</span> Piston engine with two cylinders in opposing directions

A flat-twin engine is a two-cylinder internal combustion engine with the cylinders on opposite sides of the crankshaft. The most common type of flat-twin engine is the boxer-twin engine, where both pistons move inwards and outwards at the same time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flat-four engine</span> Horizontally opposed four-cylinder piston engine

A flat-four engine, also known as a horizontally opposed-four engine, is a four-cylinder piston engine with two banks of cylinders lying on opposite sides of a common crankshaft. The most common type of flat-four engine is the boxer-four engine, each pair of opposed pistons moves inwards and outwards at the same time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Straight-twin engine</span> Inline piston engine with two cylinders

A straight-twin engine, also known as an inline-twin, vertical-twin, or parallel-twin, is a two-cylinder piston engine whose cylinders are arranged in a line along a common crankshaft.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Straight-four engine</span> Inline piston engine with four cylinders

A straight-four engine is a four-cylinder piston engine where cylinders are arranged in a line along a common crankshaft.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">H engine</span>

An H engine is a piston engine comprising two separate flat engines, most often geared to a common output shaft. The name "H engine" is due to the engine blocks resembling a letter "H" when viewed from the front. The most successful "H" engine in this form was the Napier Dagger and its derivatives. The name was also applied to engines of the same basic layout, but rotated through 90 degrees—most famously the Napier Sabre series. A variation on the "H" theme were the Fairey Prince (H-16) & Fairey P.24 Monarch, where the two engines retained separate drives, driving Contra-rotating propellers through separate concentric shafts. Although successful, they only existed in prototype form.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Straight-three engine</span> Type of engine

A straight-three engine is a three-cylinder piston engine where cylinders are arranged in a line along a common crankshaft.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">U engine</span>

A U engine is a piston engine made up of two separate straight engines placed side-by-side and coupled to a shared output shaft. When viewed from the front, the engine block resembles the letter "U".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Balance shaft</span> Weights used to balance otherwise unbalanced engine movement

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brough Superior</span>

Brough Superior motorcycles, sidecars, and motor cars were made by George Brough in his Brough Superior works on Haydn Road in Nottingham, England, from 1919 to 1940. The motorcycles were dubbed the "Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles" by H. D. Teague of The Motor Cycle newspaper. Approximately 3048 motorcycles were made in the 21 years of production; around a third of that production still exists. T. E. Lawrence owned eight of these motorcycles and died from injuries sustained when he crashed number seven; the eighth was on order. Moving forward to 2008, vintage motorcycle enthusiast Mark Upham acquired the rights to the Brough Superior name. In 2013 he met motorcycle designer Thierry Henriette and asked him to design a new Brough Superior motorcycle. Three months later a prototype of a new SS100 was shown in Milan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brough Motorcycles</span>

Brough Motorcycles were made by William E. Brough in Nottingham, England, from 1902 to 1926, after some earlier experimentation with motorised tricycles. The Brough Superior company was a separate company created by his son, George Brough.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Axial engine</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brough Superior Golden Dream</span> Type of motorcycle

The Brough Superior Golden Dream was designed and built by George Brough in Nottingham, England, in 1938. With its distinctive gold finish, this was to be the ultimate Brough Superior but production was stopped by the outbreak of War in 1939.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brough Superior Austin Four</span> Type of motorcycle

The Brough Superior Austin Four was a limited-production motorcycle designed and manufactured by Brough Superior of Nottingham, UK in 1932. It was listed in the 1932 Brough Superior catalogue as the 'Straight Four' but it was commonly known as the Brough Superior Austin Four, or BS4, or '3-wheeled Brough'. The machine is unique in its design, being powered by a modified Austin 7 automobile engine and gearbox unit, from which a driveshaft emerges on the centre-line of the motor. Rather than design a new gearbox, George Brough had the inspiration to keep the central driveshaft, and use a pair of close-couple rear wheels driven by a central final drive box. This 3-wheeled design was legally considered a motorcycle as the wheel centres were within 24". The Brough Superior-Austin Four created a sensation when revealed at the 1931 Olympia Motorcycle Show.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bugatti U-16</span> U engine designed by Ettore Bugatti

The Bugatti U-16 was a 16-cylinder water-cooled double-8 vertical in-line "U engine", designed by Ettore Bugatti in 1915-1916 and built in France in small numbers. The US Bolling Commission bought a license to build the engine in the US, and small numbers of a slightly revised version were built by the Duesenberg Motor Corporation as the King-Bugatti. Probably about 40 King-Bugattis were made before the end of World War I caused building contracts to be canceled.

The British Motorcycle Charitable Trust (BMCT) is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation dedicated to promoting and supporting the preservation and restoration of British motorcycle engineering heritage. Established as a Registered Charity in 1979, the Trust aims to protect and restore rare British motorcycles and provide access to the public through a network of museums and annual motorcycle heritage events. The Trust also provides support and resources to educational establishments, clubs and private individuals and maintains information on all aspects of British motorcycles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yamaha XJ650 Maxim</span> Type of motorcycle

The Yamaha XJ650 Maxim is a mid-size motorcycle by the Yamaha Motor Company introduced in 1980 as the Maxim I and produced through 1983. Yamaha designed the high-performance XJ650 as a brand-new four-cylinder with shaft drive, and built it specifically as a special cruiser. The XJ Maxim was the successor of the XS Special introduced in 1978.


  1. 1 2 3 Brooks, John (2000). The National Motorcycle Museum: Where the Legend Lives On. Norwich: Jarrold Publishing.[ page needed ]
  2. "Mr William Roy Richards 1931–2008". National Motorcycle Museum. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  3. Duckworth, Mick (November 2003). "Gutted!". Classic Bike. Peterborough: EMAP Automotive (286): 10–15.
  4. "Fire destroys motorbike collection". BBC News. 17 September 2003. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  5. "£14 million bill for motorcycle museum blaze". BBC News. Archived from the original on 26 February 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  6. "National Motorcycle Museum reopens". BBC News. December 2004. Archived from the original on 2 March 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  7. Gibbons, Brett. "Priceless trophies snatched in robbery at National Motorcycle Museum near Solihull". Birmingham Mail . Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  8. "British Motorcycle Charitable Trust". Archived from the original on 14 April 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  9. "Brough Golden Dream". National Motorcycle Museum. Archived from the original on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2011.