Norton Motorcycles are one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers in Great Britain. They were established in Birmingham in 1898 and have a rich history in the country. The Norton Motorcycle Company is a manufacturer of “fittings and parts for the two-wheel trade”. By 1902, the company began manufacturing motorcycles with bought-in engines. In 1908, a Norton-built engine was added to the range. This began a long series of production of single and eventually twin-cylinder motorcycles, and a long history of racing involvement. Here are ten things that you may not know about the company.
1. When The Company Was Founded They Only Sold Motorcycle Parts
The company was founded by James Lansdowne Norton in 1898 and it was originally set up to just sell motorcycle parts. They moved on to making the frames of the bikes but still purchased the engines from abroad. In 1908 production of engines began and soon Norton were able to manufacture the whole machine.
2. Their Headquarters Is At Donington Park
The current headquarters of the company is at Donington Park which has a long history of being associated with motor racing. They had been based here before in their long history and returned in 2008. Donington Hall is their corporate headquarters and this was purchased from British Airways for an undisclosed fee. This hall is located in Castle Donington and is very close to East Midlands Airport and so is a prime location.
3. They Made Military Motorcycles During Both World Wars
Production of commercial motorcycles was halted during both world wars as everything that was produced was used for the war effort. It was not uncommon for motorcycle manufacturers to begin to produce munitions as well as motorcycles. They continued to produce military motorcycles in the years between the two world wars so that they had plenty to offer when the Second World War began.
4. They Won The Isle Of Man TT For Eight Years In A Row
After the Second World War Norton Motorcycles became involved in racing and they enjoyed a very successful period. They have won the race of a number of different occasions and dominated the race for a substantial period. The most successful period was between 1947 and 1954 when they won the race every year.
5. AMC Purchased The Company In 1953
Associated Motorcycles, also known as AMC, purchased the company in 1953. Norton had been going through a difficult financial period as involvement in racing did prove expensive. When AMC took over production moved away from Birmingham and was transferred to a factory in Woolwich that AMC already owned.
6. It Merged With BSA In 1972
BSA had been producing Triumph motorcycles for a number of years but they also found themselves in financial difficulty when the motorcycle industry began to decline. By this time the company was trading as Norton Villiers after being sold by AMC. The government gave money to BSA to save it but one of the conditions of this was that they should merge with Norton Villiers to form Norton Villiers Triumph.
7. Stuart Garner Became CEO In 2008
When Stuart Garner bought the company in 2008 it returned to British hands for the first time in many years. His aim was to take the company back to it’s root which started with a move to Donington. The company also became involved in TT racing again in 2012 and this is something that continues to the present day.
8. He Set A World Record In 2009
A year after he became CEO Stuart Garner set the world record for the fastest speed reached on a rotary powered motorcycle. The attempt was recorded over a timed mile and the bike reached a speed of 173mph. When speed records are attempted it is often the CEOs or founders that get to be the ones that ride the bike and this case was no exception.
9. They Have An Online Shop
You can purchase a range of clothing items and accessories from the Norton website. There are also accessories for your bike available. These orders can be shipped all over the world and so are ideal for fans of the brand that do not live in the UK. Shipping is carried out as soon as possible wherever the items are being shipped to.
10. You Can Tour The Factory
Norton Motorcycles offer a tour of their factory at Donington Park. This gives you the chance to see first hand all the hard work that goes into producing the bikes. You will be taken around the factory by a guide that will be able to answer any questions that you may have and ensure that you don’t miss anything of interest.