John Marston, the man who started it all was born in
Ludlow in 1836, of a minor landowning family, and
was sent, aged 15, to Wolverhampton to be
apprenticed to Edward Perry, a japanware
manufacturer. At the age of 23 he left and set up
his own japanning business, making any and every
sort of domestic item, after purchasing Daniel Smith
Lester's factory in Lester Street, Bilston. Perry
died in 1869, and John did so well that in 1871, he took over his company
and incorporated it into his own.
his family and career
He started making Sunbeam bicycles, with great
success and on the suggestion of his wife Ellen,
adopted the brand name "Sunbeam". In the late 1890s
his right-hand man, Thomas Cureton, persuaded him to
consider building a car. They drew up a
specification for an experimental vehicle and work
began on the prototype in 1899.
Within a few years the company were producing
large numbers of high quality cars and went on to
become one of Wolverhampton's largest employers.
The story is told in the following parts: