F. Hopper and Co
From Graces Guide
of Barton-on-Humber, South Humberside
Torpedo were motorcycles produced from 1908 to 1915.
1880 Company established by Fred Hopper.
1880 Hopper started work on the west side of Brigg Road, initially, for an established company. This year has always been claimed as the "founding date" of the Hopper business.
1890 Produced his first bicycle, a cross frame safety, known as the Ajax.
1896 Needing money to expand, Hopper sold his business to a Hull investment company and was retained as manager. This lasted for less than one year.
1897 Hopper opened a new factory on Butts Road – later used as the Drill Hall. This new company was known as the M. S. and L. Cycle Manufacturing Co
1898 The Hull investment company failed due to a national slump in bicycle sales and the assets were bought back by Hopper and his business partners.
During the Edwardian years Hopper built up a successful export business using overseas agents, as well as increasing his share of the domestic market.
From 1903 production gradually relocated to new factory buildings between Pasture Road and Marsh Lane, known as St Mary’s Works.
1903 Hopper began to import NSU motorcycles.
1905 The Brigg Road office was built
1907 Became a limited company to enable funds to be raised for expansion. The three main shareholders were Fred Hopper, Henry Wilson, a solicitor with a practice in Hull, and Gilbert Nowell, a local solicitor.
1910 The Torpedo was first seen at the Olympia show. It was intended to use a 4.25 Fafnir engine, but this was changed to 2.5hp and 3.5hp Precision engines, with belt drive and Druid forks. Later came a 4.25hp model with hub gears and a 190cc lightweight.
1910 F. Hopper and Co took over the assets of Elswick Cycle Co, a Newcastle business founded in 1880, and maker of well designed and well crafted bicycles much favoured by "Society".
1913 Elswick-Hopper Cycle and Motor Co was formed – the flotation was not successful and a receiver was appointed to oversee financial reconstruction.
Sources of Information
- The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
- 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
-  Ian Chadwick's motorcycle web site