From the In­side

BSA/Tri­umph’s Um­ber­slade Hall Re­search Es­tab­lish­ment Re­vealed

Old Bike Australasia - - EYES RIGHT - By Brad Jones

138 pages hard cover ISBN: 978-1-912009-82-4 Com­pass Pub­lish­ing Avail­able from au­thor; email [email protected]­ Price: AUD $45.50 + AUD $14.00 P&P More in­for­ma­tion: As if there weren’t enough mys­tery and in­trigue go­ing on in the ‘six­ties to keep Bri­tain’s most ven­er­a­ble mo­tor­cy­cle brands alive, then there was Um­ber­slade Hall, some­times cru­elly re­ferred to as Slum­ber­slade Hall. It was BSA Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Harry Stur­geon who pushed the idea that the com­bined BSA/Tri­umph group should have a ded­i­cated Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre, but fol­low­ing his un­timely death in 1966, it was his suc­ces­sor Lionel Jofeh who de­cided to lease the grand man­sion orig­i­nally built be­tween 16901702 for this pur­pose. BSA/Tri­umph took up res­i­dence in the spring of 1967 af­ter a lengthy se­ries of ne­go­ti­a­tions with the coun­cil over ex­ten­sions and ex­tra build­ings that were needed to con­vert the prop­erty to its in­tended use. Brad Jones’ pre­vi­ous book, BSA Mo­tor­cy­cles – the fi­nal evo­lu­tion’, traced the road to the grisly end of the mar­que, but this one fo­cuses on the in­side story of the man­age­ment and de­ci­sion mak­ing that en­sued in what was a tur­bu­lent pe­riod. As the au­thor says, “many time-worn myths and in­ac­cu­ra­cies have been put to bed by speak­ing to some of those that were ac­tu­ally em­ployed there (at Um­ber­slade Hall)”. Jones has been able to ac­cess many pre­vi­ously hid­den or thought-lost doc­u­ments which con­tain de­tails on the de­vel­op­ment of many of the mo­tor­cy­cles that re­sulted from the R&D cen­tre. These in­clude the DOHC 350 twins, the B50 range, the planned BSA and Tri­umph ver­sions of the ven­er­a­ble par­al­lel twins, and the Wankel ro­tary project. For the stu­dent of Bri­tish mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try his­tory, this book is an ab­so­lute must, for it raises as many ques­tions as it an­swers. What might have been? Like the Bri­tish in­dus­try it­self, Um­ber­slade Hall is now a shadow of its for­mer grandeur, hav­ing been con­verted into apart­ments in 1978.

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