Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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William Riley, (Junior)

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1851 Born the son of William Riley

The Riley family had a weaving business based at St Nicholas Street in Coventry

1861 Living at Bell Green, Coventry (age 9 born Coleshill). With his parents William and Comfort. [1]

1871 Living at Ford Street, Coventry (age 19 born Foleshill), a Trimming Manufacturer. With his widowed father Willam and his siblings. [2]

1875 Married Emma Lester; they had 5 sons.

1875 August 31st. Partnership between William Riley the younger of Coventry, trimming manufacturer and Alfred Henry Read of Coventry, watch manufacturer; as a partnership in watch manufacturing to be carried on at the workplace of Henry Read in Norfolk Street, Coventry. The firm is to be called Riley and Read. [3]

1878 The partnership with Read was dissolved; Read carried on the business of watch manufacturer[4]

1881 Living at Holly Bank, Radford Road, Coventry age 29 (born at Foleshill), Trimming Manufacturer. Living with his wife Emma (age 26) and children Victor (age 5), Allan (age 2), and Percy (age 4 months) plus a servant [5]

1890 Bought the Bonnick Cycle Co

1891 Living at Holly Bank, Radford Road, Coventry age 39 (born at Foleshill), Cycle Manufacturer and Employer. Living with his wife Emma (age 36) and children Victor (age 15), a Scholar, Allan (age 12), a Scholar, Percy (age 9), a Scholar, and Stanley (age 2) plus a servant [6]

1896 Founder of Riley Cycle Co

1901 Living at Holly Bank, Radford Road, Coventry age 49 (born at Foleshill), Cycle Manufacturer and Employer. Living with his wife Emma (age 45) and children Victor (age 25), a Cycle Works Manager, Allan (age 21), a Cycle Works Clerk, Percy (age 20), an Engineer Mechanic, Stanley (age 12) and Cecil (age 6) plus a servant. [7]

1944. 17th January. Died in his 92nd year at Rose Bank, Kenilworth.


1944 Obituary [8]

Mr. William Riley, the cycle and motorcar pioneer died at Kenilworth on Monday at the age of 92.

He was the head of the old established Coventry weaving business, bearing his name, founded by his father, and in 1890 he purchased the cycle firm that afterwards became the Riley Cycle Co. Eight years later the first Riley car was built and the company became actively engaged upon the production of engines and components; one of the latter, the Riley detachable wire wheel achieved a world-wide reputation. Later the company changed its title to Riley (Coventry) Ltd and introduced the 9 h.p. Riley car. The firm is now part of the Nuffield Organisation. Mr. Riley only retired from the board in his 85th year. he is survived by his four sons.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1861 Census
  2. 1871 Census
  3. [1] National Archives
  4. London Gazette Issue 29 October 1878
  5. 1891 Census
  6. 1891 Census
  7. 1901 Census
  8. The Times, Thursday, Jan 20, 1944
  • Biography of the Riley family, ODNB