TJ Wassell

Keen to discover whether the heart of England’s motorcycle industry still has plenty to offer, Dave Manning heads to the West Midlands, and finds lots of true British industry.

While there are those who bemoan the current apparent lack of British industry, who blame schools for selling off wood and metal-working facilities, who point fingers at governmental bodies for changing the national curriculum away from hands-on engineering and apprenticeship schemes, and who take task with parents demanding that children focus on getting into university, even if it’s only to get an arts or sociology degree, the simple fact is that the UK still has a large manufacturing industry, and there are a large number of companies making products in the Great British tradition.

A number of frame and engine jigs stand ready for exhausts to be made to suit particular models.

The companies still producing British goods for the British market are spread all around our nation, but there does seem to be something of a hotbed of industry in the West Midlands, which has a tradition in manufacturing, not least incorporating a large segment of the British motorcycle industry, particularly in the post-war era.

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Unsurprisingly, some of the companies producing parts, or supplying the appropriate processes required in the creation of such parts, still remain in what was once a hotbed of motorcycle production.

Exhaust headers being finished off with hand polishing.

On the north-eastern side of the West Midlands, Burntwood is an industrial town that owes much of its heritage to coal mining, both deep mines and opencast, although it’s probably best known for the Staffordshire Hoard – a collection of Saxon treasure discovered by a local man in 2009.

Read more and view more images in the August 2019 issue of OBM – on sale now!

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