‘It’s heady stuff’
In 2010 Ben, then working for MCN’s sister magazine Classic Bike, visited four key Norton factory sites responsible for the legendary Commando: Norton Villiers in Wolverhampton, where the Commando was designed; the AMC factory at Woolwich where it was built in 1968 and 1969; North Way Andover, which took over the production between 1969 and 1973 and Thruxton where the Norvil race shop was.
Like with Triumph, there’s not much left but there’s still enough to impress. “In Wolverhampton the sheer scale is still evident.” At Plumstead, where the factory was demolished and the land was sold for housing, “I walked the perimeter of the old site and it took me 10 minutes.” Then finally at Thruxton: “Nissen huts evoke the area’s history with proper businesses welding bits of metal together; it’s heady stuff. We walked over to a long, bluepainted, brick building where the Commando production racers were developed and tried to imagine how exciting it must have been to work here as a bike-mad young man.”
Ben Miller Riding for 30 yearsOccupation Former editor of Classic BikeBike Norton Commando