Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Centaur Cycle Co

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April 1899.
1900. Centaur Autocar.
Advertising sign.
Advertising sign.
November 1903.
March 1904.
Advertising sign.

of West Orchard Works, Coventry

1876 Company founded by George Gilbert and Edward Mushing

1890 Particularly successful in introducing a lightweight bicycle. The King of Scorchers weighed only 26 lbs.

1890 Case brought by Bown against the company claiming infringement of patent; evidence concerned the earlier case against Humber, Marriott and Cooper which had been concerned with an "ordinary" cycle supplied to Thomas Lambert [1]. Decision in favour of the defendants, namely that Lambert's cycle had predated the patent [2].

1896/7 Directory: Listed under cycles. More details [3]

1897 The New Centaur Cycle Co was registered on 27 February, to take over the business of the Centaur Cycle Co.

1901 Produced chain-driven motorcycles powered by 3 hp Humber engine. These were shown at the 1902 National show

1904 Using their own engines

1904 John Henry Trickett, Gilbert Jenks and Albert William Parkes were employed by the company.[4]

1906 In January, reverted to the original name of Centaur Cycle Co [5]

1910 Mushing died and the business was taken over by Humber who moved production to Stoke

1912 Listed in Spennell's directory of Coventry as Cycle Manufacturers. [6]

1915 Humber dropped the Centaur name

Motorcycles

Centaur of Stoke, Coventry

Produced motorcycles from 1901 to 1914.

1901 The machines first appeared as primitive but well built.

1904 The silencer was used as the frame downtube between headstock and crankcase. It had a 348 cc 3hp engine with valves at the front of the cylinder and braced forks incorporated a rubber buffer to take some of the road shocks. It also had belt or a two-stage chain-drive. Another model had an inclined engine, which replaced the downtube as in the Humber and P and M design. A forecar was also offered.

1905 The silencer reverted to being a separate item and was no longer part of the frame.

1906 The 3hp model continued for that year. Manufacture then stopped for a few years.

1910 The company returned with standard and TT models, both fitted with a 3.5hp engine, with valves at the front of the cylinder. The standard model had a Bosch magneto ahead of the crankcase and sprung forks, the TT version was rigid with a rear-mounted magneto. Two ran in the TT, but neither was successful.

1911 That year saw the arrival of a free-engine clutch and a 3.5hp vertical twin with overhead inlet-valves.

1912 Various models were available from 2hp to 3.5hp and there was also a ladies' version. Four models continued for the next two years.

1914 The marque disappeared.


National Motorcycle Museum exhibits:-

  • 1912 Centaur 500cc

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Birmingham Daily Post, 12 November 1890
  2. The Times, 21 November 1890
  3. Peck's Trades Directory of Birmingham, 1896-97: Cycles
  4. Coventry’s Motorcar Heritage by Damien Kimberley. 2012. ISBN 978 0 7524 5448 1
  5. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  6. Spennell's Annual Directory of Coventry and District, 1912-13
  • Coventry’s Motorcycle Heritage by Damien Kimberley. Published 2009. ISBN 978 0 7509 5125 9
  • Summary of the Papers of the Centaur Cycle Company [1]
  • The British Motorcycle Directory - Over 1,100 Marques from 1888 - by Roy Bacon and Ken Hallworth. Pub: The Crowood Press 2004 ISBN 1 86126 674 X
  • The Encyclopedia of the Motorcycle by Peter Henshaw. Published 2007. ISBN 978 1 8401 3967 9