Mercury Motorcycles and Scooters
J. Jewkes' Hermes, at the 2003 Black Country Vehicle Rally at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley.

Mercury Industries (Birmingham) Limited, was founded in 1947, and produced large numbers of bicycles, initially in Birmingham, then in Dock Lane, Dudley. The company had a large export business, and moved to a much bigger premises in Dudley, where up to 200 people were employed on production.

In 1956 the company introduced the 49 c.c., 2 stroke  'Hermes' and the 50 c.c. overhead valve 'Mercette' light scooters. The 'Mercette' could carry two people, and sold for just under £65.

At the 1956 Motor Cycle Show,  the company launched the 'Grey Streak' lightweight motorcycle, powered by a 98 c.c. Villiers engine and 2-speed gearbox unit. The machine sold for £85.10s. 

In the same year the 'Hermes' was replaced by the 'Dolphin', and the 'Whippet 60' scooter with a 60 c.c.Dunkley engine was introduced. It sold for just under £99.

The 'Dolphin' had a 98 c.c. Villiers engine, with force-draught, fan cooling, a 2-speed gearbox, and a kick starter. It sold for £105.

John Fairclough's 'Grey Streak', at the 2002 Black Country Vehicle Rally.

John Fairclough's 'Grey Streak', at the 2010 Festival of Black Country Vehicles, at the Black Country Living Museum.

A Pippin advertisement. Courtesy of  J. Jewkes.

Early 1958 saw the introduction of the 'Pippin' scooter. The company acquired a second factory in Pool Street, Wolverhampton, where the scooters were assembled from parts made at the Dock Lane factory. The 'Pippin' had a 98 c.c. Villiers engine, a 2-speed gearbox, and sold for £115.10s.

With production expected to peak at around 15,000 machines a year, half to North America, the future looked bright. But sadly few can have been made. The company quickly got itself into financial difficulties and went into liquidation in March 1958. Motorcycle production having ended on 1st March.



From the 1958 sales literature.

The specification of the Mercury 'Dolphin' scooter.
The photograph that's used in the above advert.
Bob Ashwin's 1957 Mercury 'Dolphin' scooter, seen at the Black Country Vehicle Rally, at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley, on 14th July, 2002.

An advert from 1957.   

The specification of the 'Grey Streak'.

The optimism for the future of the company can be seen in this article from the Express & Star, 17th January, 1958:

Dudley’s part in scooter venture

Once a town famous for its motorcycles, Wolverhampton is now becoming something of a centre for the manufacture of motor scooters.

A new scooter to be assembled in the town is announced. Two others are already made by local companies and an imported machine is distributed from the town.

Makers of the new scooter, the 98 c.c. Pippin, are Mercury Industries (Birmingham) Limited, which has factories at Mercury Works, Dudley, and Pool Street, Wolverhampton.

The Pippin will be assembled at the Wolverhampton factory from major components made at Dudley. Its engine and two-speed gearbox unit are made by Villiers.

Mr. John Abrahamson, managing director of the manufacturing company said yesterday “We are tooled-up for the production of 15,000 machines a year.” Half that number would, it was hoped, be exported, and already the company has an initial order from America for 2,000 machines worth about 250,000 dollars, with the Pippin never having been seen there. The first of the American orders will be leaving this country in the middle of next week.

The Pippin in its design features, demonstrates British thought on the original Italian scooter theme; a multi-tube frame replaces the scooter convention of a single massive tubular backbone, and there are larger diameter wheels and a longer wheelbase for greater safety.

Three Miles a Penny

It is not intended to be a fast machine; a 35 to 40 m.p.h. cruising speed is claimed with rider and passenger, and its makers hope for running costs in the region of three miles a penny.

With the first export orders for America will go the company’s own factory trained mechanics with a mobile workshop to provide after sales service.

Mercury Industries, cycle manufacturers for many years, entered the motorcycle field at the time of the 1956 London Motor Cycle Show with an orthodox lightweight machine, and a small scooter very similar in general appearance and power to the machine now announced.

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