|Mercury Motorcycles and Scooters
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'
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
'Grey Streak', at the 2010 Festival of Black Country Vehicles, at the Black Country Living
A Pippin advertisement.
|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
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
An advert from 1957.
||The specification of the 'Grey
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
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