Calthorpe 1928 350 cc OHV ‘ D6 Popular” frame#D6 1517 engine# D7 2635
The Calthorpe company was very much the creation of one man, George Hands.
George William Hands was born in America to a British family which was temporarily relocated to Bridgport, Connecticut presumably due to his father, John Hands’ occupation as an engine fitter. Back in Birmingham George served an early apprenticeship as a machinist before, in his early twenties, setting up his first company, Bard Cycles, with an Arthur Cake in 1895.
The name Calthorpe seems to have been simply pinched from the Calthorpe Estate, who were large landowners in Birmingham.
In 1909 the first Calthorpe motorcycle appeared.
This was a sturdy single speed belt drive machine powered by the White and Poppe 3 1/2 HP single cylinder engine.
The White and Poppe engine was soon superseded by a ‘Calthorpe’ engine, in reality a Precision made by F E Baker and representing the start of several years association with this company.
A JAP powered version of the same model was also available.
In 1915 a successful range of Peco (Pearson and Coles) two stroke and JAP four stroke models appeared. Production was interrupted in 1917 by the European conflict but restarted in 1919 with a similar range which continued with little change until 1924.
During the war the Calthorpe factories were turned over to hand grenade production.
In 1924, for the 1925 season, with little publicity the firm produced its first in house engine, a very effective 350 cc push rod OHV unit. The engine was extremely successful, withstanding considerable tuning and forming the basis of racing and even speedway versions. A well known tuner once described this engine as ‘a JAP put right’.
From 1929 on there was a range of “Ivory” models and in the early thirties the model range was widened to three classes,250, 350 and 500 cc.
Production of the Ivory models went on till 1939, when the Calthorpe company went out of business. (Adapted from Dick Weekes’ marque history on the interesting website Cathorpe.info)
This sporty as-found OHV is fitted with Burman gearbox and Bosch magneto.
It comes complete with “Alpha” speedometer and was discovered in a Swiss barn.
This machine could be fully restored or merely touched up in charismatic oily rag condition.