The move to Fryer Street

The success in the T.T. produced a lot of publicity, and an increase in orders followed. It soon became obvious that the Heath Street premises were totally inadequate for the manufacture of such a large number of machines. Larger premises were essential and a new factory occupying 12,000 sq. ft. was found in Fryer Street, next to the Chubb Building. The new works occupied the piece of land between Long Street and Broad street, with the main entrance in Fryer Street, and the works entrance in Long Street. The change of address was announced on 21st September in The Express & Star newspaper, and the move was completed by the middle of October.

The location of the new factory.

This was a busy time for the company. There were orders to complete, the move to be organised,  thought had to be given to next year's models, and machines had to be got ready for the show at Olympia.  

Although the new factory covered a much larger area, it was never fully equipped, and so its full potential wasn't realised, because the company always suffered from a lack of money.

H.R.D. received some welcome publicity just before the Olympia show. On 18th September, Hubert Le Vack entered his HD90 at Brooklands and gained a world speed record of 104.41m.p.h., for classes C & D, and a British record for the flying mile.

The 1925 Olympia show opened on 21st September, over a month earlier than usual. H.R.D. displayed five models, which were much the same as those displayed at last year's show.

The Fryer Street premises. From the 1927 catalogue.

The HD70 was dropped, but the HD70/S remained, both in its original form, or with a 600c.c. engine and a larger petrol tank.

The new 600c.c. model cost an extra 5 guineas. The original 500c.c. solo model still sold for 66 guineas and 83 guineas for the combination. 

The HD80 was unchanged and still sold for 80 guineas. The HD90 was modified to make it as close as possible to the T.T. winning machine. It had larger foot-operated brakes, with a ribbed rear brake drum. The capacity of the petrol tank was increased from 2 gallons to 2 gallons 3 pints, an extra engine mount was fitted. The machine still sold for 90 guineas.

A plan of the new factory.

From Motor Cycling magazine, March 17th, 1926.

The top of the range HD Super 90, was the same as the HD90, but had a new 500c.c. twin port engine, and a top speed of around 100m.p.h. The machine came with a Smith's speedometer, Lucas electric lighting, and sold for 98 guineas.

Sales continued much as before, with 267 machines sold that year. Although sales were on the increase, the company was still not profitable. A new duplex frame was developed, and H.R.D. road tests were published in the February 1926 edition of 'Motor Cycling' magazine and 'The Motor Cycle'. Both magazines were very enthusiastic and the machines were highly rated.

Thoughts soon turned to the 1926 Isle of Man T.T. A servo braking system was developed in readiness, which performed very well in trials, but in the end it was decided that the tried and tested traditional brakes, would continue to be used. 

In the left foreground is Howard Birrell and behind him is Eddie Twemlow and Eddie Jones. 

Behind them, to the left of machine number 1 is Albert Clarke, and to the right of the machine is Ken Twemlow. 

Howard Davies is at the back, on the left of machine 'C'. Next right is Theo Hupperdine. On the right of the machine is Sidney Jackson. On the extreme right with his back to the camera is Harry Harris.

The H.R.D. T.T. workshop in Atholl Street, Douglas.

From the H.R.D. catalogue.

There were three H.R.D. entries for the Junior, two from the factory and one private, supported by the company.

The company's entrants were Eddie Twenlow and Kenneth Twenlow. T.R. Jones entered privately.

In the Senior there were five factory entries and three supported private entries.

The company's entrants were Howard Davies, Eddie Twenlow, Kenneth Twenlow, Harry Harris and Clarry Wood.

The private entrants were Ossie Wade, his son John, and Sidney Jackson.

The practice sessions went very badly from the start. It was obvious that the H.R.D.s could not match the speed of many of the other entrants.

The fastest time for an H.R.D. was 77.6m.p.h., whereas Frank Longman's A.J.S. achieved 84.9m.p.h., and many others reached over 80m.p.h.

Moral was low and tempers frayed. Howard Davies sacked Theo Hupperdine on the spot. Theo, one of the mechanics, made some derogatory remarks about the performance of the machines. 

From the H.R.D. catalogue.

From the H.R.D. catalogue.

Behind the scenes a lot of work was carried out to try and improve the performance, but all to no avail.

In the Junior race, Eddie Twenlow fell during the first lap at Quarter Bridge and managed to continue. Unfortunately he had to retire in the fourth lap with a dead engine.

T. R. Jones also retired on the fourth lap with a broken engine. Kenneth Twenlow, the only team member to finish, ended in 11th place.

In the Senior race, Howard Davies was in 3rd place at the end of the 3rd lap. On the 4th lap he crashed at Gooseneck and grazed his chin. He managed to continue, but the mishap had dropped him down to 6th place. His engine soon failed and he had to retire. Eddie Twenlow also finished in the 4th lap, with a dead magneto. John Wade crashed at Bradden Bridge.

The race was won by Stanley Woods on a Norton. Clarry Wood finished in 5th place, Sidney Jackson finished in 8th place, Kenneth Twenlow finished in 9th place, Harry Harris finished in 16th place and Ossie Wade finished in 21st place. 

From the H.R.D. catalogue.

From the H.R.D. catalogue.

It was a disaster for Howard, who had hoped to repeat his performance of 1925.On his return to Wolverhampton Howard had to decide on next year's machines, and what would be on display at Olympia. 

The exhibition was due to open on 14th October and so there wasn't much time to sort things out.

The models that were displayed consisted of a few of the old favourites and some entirely new machines.


The HD90 was replaced by the HD75. Although the new machine sold for 75 guineas, it retained most of the original HD90's features and so was good value for money. It had a 500c.c. overhead valve, JAP engine, with the original fixing. Webb forks were supplied with adjustable shock dampers. The machine also included a Pilgrim mechanical lubricator and was capable of 75m.p.h. The HD70/S remained at its old price and a de luxe version was produced. The new machine was the HD 600 De Luxe. It was powered by a 600c.c. sports, side valve, JAP engine and sold for 72 guineas. 

From the Motor Cycle Magazine, 27th May, 1926.

The Fryer Street Works in the 1970s. Courtesy of David Clare.

The HD Super 90 remained at its old price, and was also available with a 600c.c. engine for an extra 5 guineas. The HD80 remained at its old price, and there were two new 350c.c. models, the HD60, and the HD65.

The HD60 was aimed at the lower end of the market, and had a sports 350c.c. side valve, JAP engine, Druid forks with shock dampers, a top speed of around 60m.p.h., and sold for 60guineas.

The HD65 was more or less identical to the HD60, but came with a standard 350c.c. overhead valve, single port, JAP engine. It had a top speed of around 65m.p.h., and sold for 65 guineas.

There was also a de luxe touring sidecar which sold for 22 guineas. A total of 337 machines were sold in 1926, an increase of 70 on last year's figures. But the company was still loosing money. For the 1927 range, H.R.D.'s sales policy remained unchanged. Relatively small numbers of machines were produced and buyers were urged to order well in advance.


There was always a waiting list, and the earlier production problems were never resolved.

Throughout 1927, H.R.D. machines continued to have a lot of success in competitions, and so the company continued to get good publicity.

The competition successes were featured in the company's adverts and also in the adverts produced by some of the component suppliers.

The Broad Street side of the works with the repair shop on the left and the stores on the right. Courtesy of David Clare.

The 1927 catalogue.

Around Easter, plans were made for the forthcoming T.T. It was important that the H.R.D. machines should perform well, as this had a direct effect on sales.

The general strike of 1926 and the trade recession had effected sales. H.R.D. machines were always expensive and were aimed at the top end of the market. This part of the market was badly hit by the recession and so something had to be done.

There was some doubt as to whether Howard would compete in the 1927 T.T., as he had put on a lot of weight and was quite unfit.

In the end he decided to only enter for the Senior. The entries for the Junior were Freddie Dixon for the company, and R.V. Crauford, privately.

The entries for the Senior were Howard Davies, Clarry Wood and Freddie Dixon.

The practice sessions went quite well. The H.R.D. team were being tipped finish in the first three in the Senior, even though their speeds were lower than those of the Norton team.

Freddie Dixon dashing through Parliament Square in the 1927 Junior T.T.

From 'Motor Cycling' magazine, 15th June, 1927.

In the Junior, R. V. Crauford retired on lap five at Bray Hill, with brake problems, but Freddie Dixon and his machine performed flawlessly. Freddie went on to win the race at a record speed of 67.19m.p.h.

In the Senior there were problems on the first lap. Clarrie Wood took a fall at Quarter Bridge, where the road was in a greasy condition. Luckily he was unhurt and managed to continue. Howard's machine was suffering from lubrication problems and he had to retire on the next lap, at Sulby. Clarrie Wood had to retire on lap 4 at Hillberry with a buckled rear wheel. This was a result of his fall in the first lap. Freddie Dixon's machine again performed extremely well and he finished in 6th place. The winner was Alec Bennett on a Norton. 

From 'Motor Cycling' magazine, 15th June, 1927.

Back in Wolverhampton, the team was given a warm reception and many celebrations followed, including a Civic reception on 21st June for both H.R.D. and Sunbeam, whose team gained the team prize in the Senior race. Three decorated lorries carrying H.R.D., A.J.S. and Sunbeam machines arrived at Chapel Ash. They were joined by the police band, the mounted police, and two cars.

The first car carried Howard Davies and the second carried Freddy Dixon. A procession quickly formed, which was led by the police band and the mounted police. A large crowd saw the procession depart for Victoria Square, where the reception was held at the Victoria Hotel. A crowd of about 2,000 people gathered outside the hotel and Howard Davies, Freddie Dixon, the Chief Constable and Alderman Myatt, climbed on to the narrow balcony to receive the crowd's greeting. Another reception was given by Freddie Dixon's club, the Middlesbrough and District M.C.C. 

When the celebrations were over, a lot of hard work was necessary to make the company profitable again. A sales drive was organised and everyone did all that they could to promote sales. Six machines were prepared for the Olympia show in October. The model range remained the same as the previous year,  and prices were reduced to try and improve sales.

Sales however got worse, only 214 machines were sold that year and each machine lost money. The company had never been profitable. The net loss was £440 in 1925, £1,223 in 1926, and £6,600 in 1927. The company went into voluntary liquidation in January 1928, and at the end of the month was purchased by Ernest Humphries, of O.K. Supreme Motors. He decided to sell the name, jigs, tools and patterns, and these were soon sold to Philip C. Vincent, for £500. Vincent wanted to start manufacturing motorcycles and needed an established name to get things off to a good start. Production moved to Stevenage, and the new machines were called Vincent H.R.D. The H.R.D. part of the name was soon dropped and the machines were sold under the Vincent name.

Around 850 H.R.D. machines were built in Wolverhampton. Only about 18 complete machines, and a number of incomplete machines are known to exist, although others may well be found in the future.

Geoff Preece's book "H.R.D. Motor Cycles. Produced by a Rider". Published by J. Bickerstaff, has been an invaluable reference in producing this story.

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