Monday, February 7, 2011


Dawson Motor Works was a motorcycle shop set in Wolverhampton by motorcycle racer Leslie Dawson in the early 1940's. Due to injuries incurred during his racing years, he was ineligible to serve in the armed forces. Among some initial activities, it produced a telescopic do-it-yourself suspension in 1942 that could be fitted on popular British bikes. It was called "telematic". At that time telescopic forks were only available in the BMW machines, which were very expensive and covered by many patents that the British manufacturers were leery of infringing. He also came up with a do-it-yourself rear suspension kit in 1943, based on a patent he had for the rear suspension from 1939. He also patented the dual front brake. After the war he produced limited numbers of JAP-engined racing machines under the brand DMW. Eventually he left the company, which began to produce Villiers engined bikes in 1952. The company produced many bikes and was quite successful in the 1950's.
In the 1960's they realized the Japanese tidal wave was coming and decided to do something about it: to produce a killer British racing machine. The product was the Typhoon, a bike based on their previous "Hornet" frame and with two 250cc engines coupled side by side. They built two different engines, one based on Villiers Starmakers and the other on Royal Enfield two stroke barrels and heads. The had Albion 5 speed gearboxes and cranked out about 60 bhp and could reach 130mph at 8000 rpm in fourth gear! They had neat fiberglass tanks. DMW was hailed in the press as a saviour of national pride and as the expected output power was 70b.h.p. from a machine weighing only 287lb, it would be a winner from the start. Testing was carried out by Bill Smith and Jack Findley at Silverstone. Only the ‘Starmaker’ version was tested. Unfortunately the machine vibrated badly and the brakes were not effective. Oil leaking from the central drive caused ignition problems because it ran onto the points. Even though these problems could have been sorted out and the machines had a lot of potential, the project was shelved. The Enfield engined machine (shown in the picture) was just used for display at shows. The company was acquired in the late 1960's by a wealthy investor who ran it as a hobby, continuing to produce limited numbers of racing motorcycles. Later, the company diversified into metalworks. Mike Parkes, the works development rider was ACU Midland Centre Group Trials Champion on a 250c.c. DMW in 1976 and 1977. This was the first British bike in years to have won any major event in the trials world. Because of this, when Mike picked up his first award he was greeted with an enthusiastic chorus of 'Rule Britannia'! The company was broken up in 1995, the works sold and the name DMW relinquished finally in 2001. The main factory in Valley Road, shown below, was demolished to build family homes in 2002. Read the DMW story here.

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