A. J. Stevens & Company Limited (1909)

The brothers founded a new company called A. J. Stevens & Company Limited on 14th November 1909. The Directors were George, Harry, Jack, and Joe junior. They started with a private share capital of £1,000. All of the shares were held by the 4 directors.

Retreat Street Works in 2001.

The brothers acquired freehold premises in Retreat Street, on the opposite side of  the street to the Stevens Screw Company's works.

The company was
set-up so that the brothers could design and manufacture motorcycles, after the unfortunate loss of Wearwell.

They decided to produce motorcycles under the A.J.S. name, which came from Jack Stevens' initials. Jack's initials were chosen as he was the only one of the brothers to have two Christian names; Albert and John.

The model 'A' from the 1910 catalogue.

Harry soon set about designing the first two machines, called the model 'A' and the model 'B'.

Model 'A' was the cheaper machine, fitted with a 2½hp. single cylinder, side valve engine and a direct belt drive.

It sold for 37 guineas.

The model 'B' used the same engine but was fitted with a 2 speed gearbox, cork inserted clutch, and a chain drive.

It sold for 44 guineas.

The first machines were completed in August 1910. Production costs were largely paid by Harry, from the money he got for designing Sunbeam's first motorcycle.

The model 'B' from the 1910 catalogue.

Initially frame and engine production was carried out at the Pelham Street works, with final assembly at Retreat Street. In late autumn the whole business moved to Retreat Street, when Clyno came to Wolverhampton and took over the Pelham Street works.

The new machines were exhibited at the 1910 Cycle Show at Olympia in London, along with a one-off 3½hp. V-twin, chain-drive machine. The show was a great success and a lot of orders followed. H. Taylor & Company was appointed as the sole London A.J.S. agent, and fame followed as the machines were very successful in trials events.

In 1911 two specially prepared A.J.S. motorcycles were entered for the Isle of Man T.T. They were ridden by Jack Stevens and J. D. Corke, and finished in 15th and 14th place respectively.

A model 'D' with sidecar. From the 1914 catalogue.

The company’s products were displayed at the 1911 Olympia Show, including the new model ‘D’ which was launched in 1912.

It had a 5hp. V-twin engine with a 2 speed gearbox, chain drive, kick start and sold for 60 guineas.

In 1912 sales again greatly increased, and the future looked very bright.

In 1913 the model 'A' was discontinued and the model 'B' updated. The alterations included a 2 or 3 speed gearbox and enclosed chain drive. The model 'D' was given a 6hp. V-twin engine, and a sidecar version was introduced.

The A.J.S. sidecar was made by C. W. Hayward, based in Church Street. The 2 speed model ‘B’ sold for 46 guineas, the 3 speed version sold for 51 guineas, and the model ‘D’ sold for 69 guineas.

The company decided to enter two machines in the 1913 Isle of Man Junior T.T. They were ridden by Billy Heaton and Cyril Williams. Billy Heaton finished in 9th place after being delayed by several punctures. Cyril Williams was less successful because of mechanical problems. He failed to finish.

Sales continued to increase, and it became difficult to keep up with demand. The model ‘D’ was extremely popular, and the model ‘B’ sold very well.

Castings for the engine cylinders etc. were produced in the foundry of  Joseph Evans & Sons at Culwell Works, where Jack had been an apprentice.

From 'Motor Cycling', August 1914.

An A.J.S. 6hp. 3-speed motor carrier from 1914.

1914 saw the introduction of the 6hp. 3-speed motor carrier using a model 'D' machine.

It was developed as a goods delivery vehicle, capable of carrying heavy loads up any hill.

By changing the carrier for a sidecar it could also be used as a pleasure vehicle.

Little thought was given to the 1914 T.T. until the last minute, because of production difficulties at the works, and also plans to float a new company. A new 2¾hp. sports machine was quickly developed for the race, and it proved to be a great success. Five A.J.S. machines entered the event. They were ridden by Eric Williams, Cyril Williams,
W. Jones, Bert Haddock, and Billy Heaton.

The Stevens brothers and four of the riders in the 1914 Junior Isle of Man T.T. Left to right:
Jack Stevens, Billy Heaton, Harry Stevens, Cyril Williams, George Stevens, Eric Williams,
Joe Stevens junior, and Bert Haddock.
The race was a great success for the company. Eric Williams finished in first place at a record average speed of 45.58m.p.h. The results for the A.J.S. team were as follows:
Eric Williams 1st place
Cyril Williams 2nd place
W. Jones 4th place
Bert Haddock 6th place
Billy Heaton 29th place

The A.J.S. team's triumphant return to Wolverhampton. The two riders are Eric Williams on the left, and Cyril Williams on the right. The Stevens family are sat in the charabanc in the centre.

On their return to Wolverhampton the team was given a warm welcome by a large crowd at the High Level Station. Members of the press were also present. The party left in a procession to the works in Retreat Street where they were greeted by another large crowd. Later, everyone attended a reception at Kings Hall Restaurant, the headquarters of the Wolverhampton Motor Cycle Club.

A month later Cyril Williams won the Brooklands T.T. on the same machine that he rode on the Isle of Man.

Sales continued to soar, the sidecar version of the model 'D' proved so popular that the company could not keep up with demand, and many delays led to a lot of impatient customers. Orders also poured in for the 2¾hp. sports machine following its success at the T.T.

It was essential to increase production, but in order to achieve this, additional finance would be required, and so a new public company was formed. The new company, called A. J. Stevens & Company (1914) Limited, with a nominal share capital of £50,000 was founded on 18th July, 1914. The directors were George Stevens, Harry Stevens, Jack Stevens, Joe Stevens junior, E. E. Lamb (stockbroker), and E. L. Morcom (engineer). The registered office was in Retreat Street.

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