Saturday, October 3, 2009


This post is part of the Royal Enfield Virtual museum. If you don't know what that is, visit the museum, you will be able to return here easily. ============================

The construction of the new factory in 1903 had resulted in a reduction of profits from 16,725 pounds in 1902 to 14,692 pounds in 1903. As a consequence efforts in the company in 1904 went mostly towards increasing sales rather than development. This is what the site looks today. For older pictures see here and here, The expensive chain-driven water-cooled bike was now available air cooled for a much lower price. The Minerva machine was dropped from the lineup and the belt driven one was available with two different engines 2.75 and 3.5hp.

This year saw racing successes for Royal Enfield. On August 1st at the New Brighton track (at the time one of the most popular circuits), L. Hadley won a five mile race with his 2hp Royal Enfield at an average speed of 44.5 mph. He finished with half a lap of advantage over the other competitors. This was with the Minerva engined bike.

In Ireland, John Burney won the first motorcycle race ever in the island. This is how the Motorcycle Union of Ireland describes the event: "A 200 miles reliability trial was held on Tuesday 19th July 1904 to mark the occasion of the marriage of the Honourable Leopold Canning, President of the Ulster Centre. Whilst a reliability trial in name, this event was in fact a race, as the winner would be the first competitor to complete the course. Starting in Belfast, at the Belfast Banking Company premises in Donegall Street at 6am, the route was Belfast to Londonderry, by the coast road, via Carrickfergus, Cushendall, Portrush and Coleraine, and back by an inland route, through Maghera and Toome to finish at The Crown and Shamrock Inn, Glengormley. The victor was John Burney, from Belfast, riding a Royal Enfield." Here is a picture of Mr. Burney, The picture shows a belt driven Royal Enfield with air cooled engine, one of the three models introduced in 1903. For 1904 that model had evolved a bit, here is a picture of it, it had a Minerva engine and sold for 40 Guineas, Automobile experimentation continued, though it is not clear if sales to the public were taking place. Here is a 1904 Royal Enfield car currently in display in the National Automobile Museum in Beaulieu, That car was a 6hp that was entirely bought from another company, which was undisclosed and retailed for 175 pounds. Enfield also produced a 10hp four seater car that retailed for 300 pounds. That car was entirely Enfield made. Well, almost entirely. At the Stanley show of 1903 it appeared with a De Dion engine since the Enfield two cylinder engine was not ready. In a dash of marketing genius a non-functioning Enfield engine was displayed next to the car, insinuating that the cars would be delivered with that engine. Walter Gobiet had left Enfield towards the end of 1903 to go to the Premier Cycle Co. Walter Grew also left the company, later to become editor of The Motor Cycle. A man from Cornish, Trevor Rapson arrived as manager. He was the architect of the 1903 Enfield buildup in the car division.

In the Reliability Trials for small cars organized by the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, at Hereford, Enfield entered an 8hp car. These were the results: Monday morning: seven stops which include a broken water pipe and ignition. Monday afternoon: one stop for a puncture. Tuesday morning: one stop for a broken wire. Tuesday afternoon: no stops. Wednesday morning: three stops due to clutch, lack of water and ignition issues. Wednesday afternoon: broken oil pipe for cylinder lubrication, car retired.

After the Trials, Trevor Rapson also left for the Premier Cycle Co. and an American, Mr. W. M. Jenkins was put in charge of the motor department. He had been the manager of the Galick Motor and Cycle Company in Cape Town. He arrived in September. He made a number of improvements to the 10hp car, including a perfectly circular honeycombed in-house made radiator, that became an Enfield distinctive feature at the time. A van version of the 10hp vehicle was introduced in December and a souped up 20hp engine was also available for it.

(Photo credits: "Old Redditch Voices" and "Royal Enfield, the story of the company" by Anne Bradford and "The Story of Royal Enfield Motorcycles" by Peter Hartley)


  1. My Grandfather was John Paul Burney. His son, George Desmond (my father) had an assembly line for Royal Enfield cycles & motorcycles in Dublin. It existed from about 1947 - 1957. I remember John Brittan (?spelling) the International Six Day Trial Champion, staying with us in Dublin.

    1. My name is Graeme Dunne I live in Auckland New Zealand. John Paul Burney was a cousin of my Gt Grandmother Isobella Rowan Montgomery, daughter of Margaret Montgomery (nee Burney) she came to NZ in 1875 on the Carrisbrooke Castle. Would like to know more about our Irish ancestry.

    2. Anonymous, if you wish to get in touch with Graeme without revealing your email address to the public, you can write me privately, my email address is easy to find.



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