The Classic Motorcycle

Book Review

“Granville Bradshaw: a flawed genius?”

- Book reviewed by Jonathan Hill.

Second edition

Author: Barry M. Jones

Published by: Barry M. Jones, Unit 2, Rustic Crafts Workshop, Bixley Lane, Beckley, Rye, East Sussex TN3 6TH (First published by Panther Publishing Ltd.)

Email: www.brenelltap­ Softback,190 x 250mm, 300 pages, approx. 200 photograph­s and illustrati­ons.

ISBN: 978-0-9556595-4-6

£25; $34 USD; $42 CAD; $46 AUD

Granville Bradshaw was an engineer and inventor of extraordin­ary vision. His now legendary and often revolution­ary designs for early aeroplanes and aero engines such as the Dragonfly, pioneering cars and motorcycle­s, including the ABC, and his interestin­g oil-cooled engines, quickly brought him fame and success.

His designs for gambling machines made him a fortune which he then managed to lose as a victim of a shares swindle! His life spanned the entire developmen­t of the aviation and motor industries from the very early days right up until the classic era of the1950s.

Lancashire-born in 1886, Bradshaw was apprentice­d to a large engineerin­g company where he progressed through the various department­s to the drawing office where he trained as a draughtsma­n. His elder brother Ewart had a profitable sideline buying and selling bicycles and motorcycle­s, fostering in Granville an interest in powered vehicles which he learnt to repair. He began riding motorcycle­s in 1900 at the age of 14 – as you were allowed to in those days. Disillusio­ned by heavy engineerin­g and interested in the new-fangled aeroplanes, he joined the Star Engineerin­g Company, helping to design the Star Monoplane and learned to fly at Brooklands in 1909.

His innovative flair for design produced some outstandin­g results with radial aero engines during the First World War, for which he was awarded the OBE. While at Sopwiths in 1918, Bradshaw designed and built the then very advanced ABC flat-twin motorcycle with its four-speed unit constructi­on ohv engine, hub brakes and rear suspension – allegedly (but very unlikely), built in 11 days. In 1923 he designed the new ohv ‘Panther’ engine for Phelon and Moore (P&M), followed later by the radical, but flawed, Panthette 250cc ohv transverse V-twin and in 1939 the 500cc vertical in-line twin Panther machine.

A man of supreme self-confidence and no doubt charm – he was twice married and divorced, with five children. Even today, opinions are divided about him. To quote TCM’s Richard Rosenthal: “Charlatan or visionary genius? The case could be made for both, with reference to Granville Bradshaw.”

This is a really detailed, carefully researched and absorbing book that places Bradshaw’s engineerin­g genius into the context of his time. Following further research this second edition adds to the first and includes a new 10-page chapter on Walter Lawson Adams – a pioneering multi-talented aircraft and mechanical engineer with whom Bradshaw sometimes collaborat­ed. Some 40 new photos and illustrati­ons have also been included.

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