A. J. Stevens & Company (1914) Limited - The middle years.

1924 was a good year for sales, the demand for motorcycles exceeded supply. New buildings were added to the Graiseley Hill site with a floor area covering 62,500 square feet. The works had now been extended to cover 230,000 square feet.

The departments were as follows:

Company office Engine erecting shop
The goods receiving department
and issuing stores
Heat treatment & hardening
Raw material inspection Brazing department
Timber store Frame building department
Saw mill & case making department Fork building department
Boiler house Mudguard department
Machine shop Wheel department
Press department Frame, carrier & saddle assembly shop
Gearbox fitting shop Finishing department
Sand blast Experimental department
Bobbing department Repair Department
Tool room Road Test Department
Plating department Packing Department
Enamelling shop Despatch Department
Engine test house  

The wireless department also benefited from strong sales, and so the Lower Walsall Street factory was expanded to cover 150,000 square feet. At this time 1,300 people were employed at the factory, in the sidecar and wireless departments.

The latest A.J.S. machines were exhibited at the Scottish Show in Glasgow, held between January 25th and February 2nd.

A total of 11 A.J.S. machines were entered for the 1924 Isle of Man junior T.T. on 23rd June, including 6 works entries. Unfortunately 8 of the machines failed to complete the course due to mechanical problems. The best run was made by H. R. Scott, who finished in 3rd place, at an average speed of 54.55m.p.h. F. R. Marston finished in 9th place, and G. Kelly finished in 14th place.

There were 4 A.J.S. entries for the senior event. Charlie Hough was the first A.J.S. rider across the finishing line, in 6th place. Frank Longman finished in 8th place. The other two entries ridden by Jimmy Simpson, and A. J. Moyle failed to finish.

There were successes however. A.J.S. won the French Grand Prix, and the Speed Championship of Europe, and also won 3 gold medals in the A.C.U. English Six Days 1,000 miles Stock Machine Trial. The company also received an award for the best sidecar performance in the Scottish Six Days Reliability Trial.

The 1925 production machines were prepared in readiness for the Olympia show. The models were given a new letter prefix, starting with the letter ‘E’, followed by a number.

From 'The Motor Cycle', 15th May, 1924.

Millie Stevens on her A.J.S. motorcycle at Enville, in about 1925.
The machines were as follows:

Model ‘E1’ de-luxe 799c.c. V twin passenger combination selling for £115
Model ‘E2’ standard 799c.c. V twin passenger combination selling for £90
Model ‘E3’ 349c.c. de-luxe touring machine
selling for £57
Model ‘E4’ 349c.c. de-luxe sporting machine
selling for £57
Model ‘E5’ 349c.c. standard sporting machine
selling for £49.10s.
Model ‘E6’ 349c.c. overhead valve sports machine selling for £60
Model ‘E7’ 349c.c. overhead valve special sports machine. Price according to specification.

The ‘E1’ came complete with a luxurious sidecar fitted with a glass windscreen, side screens, and a storm-proof apron. The motorcycle featured Lucas ‘Magdyno’ electric lighting, and fully enclosed transmission chains.

On 21st February, 1925 Frank and Adelaide Giles gained a special award in the Colmore Cup Trial for second best sidecar in the trial. Other awards went to George Rowley, Jimmy Simpson, and D. Brandish, all riding 349c.c. A.J.S. machines.

George Rowley’s father was in charge of the machine shop at Graiseley Hill. George would go on to become one of the best competition riders of the day.

On 7th March, Frank and Adelaide Giles entered the Birmingham M.C.C. Victory Cup Trial and won the Victory Cup and gold medal for the best performance by a sidecar machine.

The Hackett Cup and gold medal was won at the same event, by Jimmy Simpson on his 349c.c. A.J.S. machine.

George Rowley on the Isle of Man in 1928. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

A number of modifications were made to the machines entered for the 1925 Isle of Man T.T. due to last year’s disappointing race. 5 riders were entered for the junior race; Jimmy Simpson, Charlie Hough, Frank Longman, George Rowley, and S. M. Williams. Jimmy Simpson had the best race, finishing in 3rd place, Charles Hough came 4th.

The A.J.S. Isle of Man T.T. workshop in 1925. Left to right: Joe Stevens junior, Clarrie Wise, ?, ?, ?, Cyril Greenwood, Arthur Curran, George Rowley, and Jimmy Simpson. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.
There were 3 works entries, and one private entry for the senior race. The works riders were Jimmy Simpson, Charlie Hough, and Frank Longman. S.M. Williams competed privately. The only rider to complete the course was Frank Longman who finished in second place. The winner was Howard Davies riding an HRD machine.

There were also two A.J.S. entries for the sidecar race; Frank Longman, with Leo Davenport in his sidecar, and Jimmy Simpson, with George Rowley in his sidecar. They used 349c.c. overhead valve machines with streamlined aluminium bodied sidecars. At the end of the race, Frank Longman finished in 4th place, and Jimmy Simpson in 5th place.

Three A.J.S. team members competed in the 350c.c. race in the French Grand Prix at Montlhéry on Saturday 18th July, over a distance of 217 miles. They were Frank Longman, Hanford Stevens (son of George), and Billy Hollowell (engaged to Hanford’s sister Millie). The race was a great success for A.J.S. Hanford Stevens finished in first place, Billy Hollowell came in 2nd, and Frank Longman came 4th. Jimmy Simpson entered and won the 500c.c. race at the same event, over a distance of 248 miles.

From 'The Motor Cycle', 14th January, 1926.

In the Scottish Six Days Trial starting on 27th July, A.J.S. won the manufacturers team prize for the third year in succession. During the event Frank Giles and A.F. Downie won silver cups.

One month later the team entered the Belgian Grand Prix at Francorchamps. Frank Longman and Billie Hollowell competed in the 350c.c. class, while Jimmy Simpson took part in the 500cc class.

Tragedy struck on the 5th lap when Billy Hollowell crashed and died from his injuries. The other team members were instantly withdrawn from the competition. This was a terrible blow to the Stevens family, Millie in particular.

In the autumn 10 new production models were prepared in readiness for the Olympia Show, prefixed with the letter ‘G’. The range included the company’s first production 500c.c. overhead valve models, the ‘G8’ and the ‘G10’. The standard version, the ‘G8’ sold for £62.10s. The price of the racing version, the ‘G10’ was subject to specification.

Sales continued to be high and the total workforce now exceeded 3,000. There was an excellent relationship between the management and workforce, and it was decided that the company needed to encourage social activities outside working hours.

As a result the A.J.S. Sports and Social Club Limited was formed after purchasing a piece of land alongside Woodfield Avenue, in Penn.

The new sports ground featured a large pavilion with a licensed bar, and room for dances. There were snooker and table tennis rooms, tennis courts, and a bowling green.

The company’s ladies and men’s hockey teams held matches in Pinfold Lane, on a sports ground that was also home to the Wolverhampton Motor Cycle Football Club, founded by Tommy Deadman.

Sales of wireless receivers continued to improve and so the wireless department expanded by moving the cabinet department into Stewart Street Works.

From the 1925 A.J.S. catalogue.

On 28th October, 1925 A.J.S. purchased a piece of land on the corner of Commercial Road and Lower Walsall Street, on which stood an old Victorian factory. It is not known if the building still stood when the site was purchased, or what the company did with the site.

The year ended with two wonderful pieces of news. H. Dawson won the both the 350c.c solo class, and the 350c.c. sidecar class in the Marseilles Speed Championship held on 6th December. 6 days later Frank and Adelaide Giles won the sidecar award in the London to Gloucester And Back reliability trial. Awards also went to W. S. Braidwood, P. L. Taylor, C. G. Slade, and G. B. Reed, all on 349c.c. A.J.S. solo machines.

The A.J.S. Directors in 1926. Back row left to right: Frank Hill, Edgar L. Morcom, Edgar E. Lamb (Chairman), Charles W. Hayward and Jabez Wood.
Front row left to right: Harry Stevens (Engineer), George Stevens (Salesman), Joe Stevens junior (Production Engineer) and Jack Stevens (in charge of the design office). Photo courtesy of the late Geoff Stevens.

1926 started on a good note. On 26th January A.J.S. riders Stuart Williams and Mr. Sidebotham gained first and second places in the Maroubra Speedway Senior Grand Prix at Sydney. At the same venue A.J.S. machines came 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the Junior Grand Prix. Many other successes followed, including two silver cups in the Scottish Six Days Reliability Trial, won by A. F. Downie, and Frank and Adelaide Giles. Jimmy Simpson also won the 500c.c. class in the Grand Prix D’Europe on 18th July, and Frank Longman won the 350c.c. class at the same event. In August Jimmy Simpson won the 350c.c. class in the German Grand Prix at Berlin, at an average speed of 72.8m.p.h.

A strong team had been entered for the Isle of Man T.T. consisting of George Rowley, Clarrie Wise, Jimmy Simpson, Charlie Hough, Frank Longman, C. Bell, and J. H. Stevens. In the junior race Jimmy Simpson finished in 2nd place, Charlie Hough came in 7th, Frank Longman 8th, C. Bell 18th, and J. H. Stevens 19th. In the senior race Frank Longman finished in 3rd place, George Rowley in 6th place, and Clarrie Wise came in 17th.

The General Strike took place in May at a time of great industrial unrest. Luckily A.J.S. was hardly affected by the strike thanks to the loyal workforce and extremely good relations between management and staff.

In the autumn the new range of production machines was prepared as usual for the Olympia show. The new ‘H’ series included 8 solo machines, and two combinations. Prices were slightly reduced on last year. The top of the range de-luxe sidecar model now sold for £95, £3 less than in 1925.

In 1927, as in previous years there were many competition successes. On 3rd and 4th June five A.J.S. machines won gold medals in the London to Edinburgh Trial, and Jimmy Simpson won the 350c.c. class in the Grand Prix D’Europe for the second year in succession.

He also won the Swiss Grand Prix, and the Belgian Grand Prix, 27 minutes ahead of the rest of the field. In August Frank and Adelaide Giles won the sidecar class in the

Scottish Six Days Reliability Trial, as the only sidecar team to finish without losing any points.

As usual the company competed in the Isle of Man T.T. The T.T. machines used dry sump lubrication, which worked well in practice, but caused serious problems when racing.

Five out of the nine entries for the junior race failed to finish, and five out of the eight entries for the senior race also failed to finish because of engine problems. In the junior race Jimmy Simpson finished in 3rd place, Len Cohen in 8th place, S. P. Jackson came in 13th, and J. E. Wade came in 15th.

From 'The Motor Cycle', 14th July, 1927.

Jimmy Simpson at work on his 1927 T.T. machine. From 'The Motor Cycle', 5th May, 1927.

In the senior race George Rowley finished in 9th place, Charlie Hough came in 11th, and R. F. Parkinson came in 15th.

The lubrication problem was soon sorted out and the machines had many successes at Brooklands, in Europe, and at the Ulster Grand Prix.

A.J.S. always relied heavily on sales of the popular passenger combinations, greatly helped by the many achievements of Frank and Adelaide Giles in trials and competitions.
In 1927 they continued their winning ways by gaining first class awards in the A.C.U. Six Days Stock Trial, the London to Edinburgh Trial, the Scottish Six Days Trial and many more.

Frank and Adelaide also represented Great Britain for the 6th year in succession with their A.J.S. combination.

The 1927 Scottish Six Days Reliability Trial. Riders; A. L. Downie, Frank Giles, and A. F. Downie. Adelaide Giles is in the middle side car. From 'The Motor Cycle', 18th August, 1927.

The depression had caused a reduction in the sale of motorcycles, not helped by the appearance of the attractively priced, mass-produced light car. The wireless department also suffered from a reduction in sales because of increased competition, with the introduction of cheaper mass-produced radios.

One piece of good news came in the form of a lucrative contract to build car bodies for the largest local car manufacturer, Clyno. In the summer of 1927 Clyno developed the model 'Nine' light car. Charles Haywood secured the contract for A.J.S. to build the bodies at Lower Walsall Street works. The A.J.S. Board thought that diversification might be a way of securing the company’s long term future, after being faced with falling sales. It would also secure the future of the 1,300 or so staff at Lower Walsall Street. The Board members decided to develop a range of commercial vehicle chassis at Lower Walsall Street, under Charles Hayward’s supervision.

As a result the ailing wireless department moved from Lower Walsall Street to Stewart Street Works to free-up space required for building the car bodies, and for developing commercial vehicles.

From 'The Motor Cycle', 28th July, 1927.

A. F. Downie in action in the Scottish Six Days Trial. From 'The Motor Cycle', 4th August, 1927.
As usual, next year’s range of motorcycles, now using the letter ‘K’ were prepared in the autumn in readiness for the Olympia show.

The range was similar to last year’s except for the introduction of two overhead camshaft racing models, the ‘K7’ and the ‘K10’.

The range of sidecars for 1928 were to have fabric covered bodies, like the fabric covered car bodies that were produced for Clyno at Lower Walsall Street.

It had been the worst financial year for A.J.S. so far. The company failed to declare a dividend to its shareholders, for the first time in its existence.


The Erecting Shop at Graiseley Hill in 1927.

The 1927 product range, known as series H:
The 3.49 hp. standard sporting model H5, the most popular model in the sports range. selling price £44.
The 3.49 hp. de luxe sporting model H4, with mechanical lubrication, and a quickly detachable rear wheel. selling price £48.10s.
A close-up view of the 3.49 hp. side valve engine in the H5. It is a four-stroke engine with a bore of 74 mm. and a stroke of 81 mm.

It has a four-ring aluminium alloy piston, and a cast iron cylinder with a vertically- finned detachable head. Other features include an extended, finned exhaust port to give increased cooling, and large valves made of heat-resisting alloy steel.

The silencer is of a new cylindrical type that is very effective in reducing exhaust noise by the use of blind ended and drilled extensions, so that it is impossible for the gases to flow straight through.

The 3.49 hp. overhead valve sporting model H6. The machine is identical to the H4 other than the O.H.V. engine, carburettor, gearbox, and magneto.
A close-up view of the 3.49 hp. overhead valve engine which has 2 large diameter tulip valves, a detachable cylinder head, a hemispherical combustion chamber, and an aluminium alloy piston with 4 narrow width piston rings.

For racing purposes a high compression piston was available.

The 4.98 hp. overhead valve sporting model H8. This model is almost identical to the A.J.S. machines that performed so well in the Isle of Man T.T. races. It has a maximum speed of 70 to 75 m.p.h.
The 3.49 hp. de luxe touring model H3 with footboards and touring pattern handlebars.
The 4.98 hp. de luxe touring model H9 with a side-valve engine.
The 7.99 hp. de luxe combination model H1. An ideal touring machine with high horsepower, and low bottom gear, which can go almost anywhere.

The engine is a 50º v-twin side valve design with aluminium alloy pistons.

All 3 wheels are quickly and easily interchangeable, and the sidecar is steel-panelled, and beautifully upholstered.

A close-up view of the v-twin 7.99 hp. side valve engine that powers the H1 combination.

The cylinders have a common induction manifold to which the carburettor is attached, detachable cylinder heads, and roller bearings.

The 7.99 hp. standard passenger combination model H2.

This is a cheaper, less luxurious version of the H1.

The 7.99 hp. de luxe tandem two-seater combination.

This was supplied as a two-seater sidecar version of the H1 and H2.

The occasional two-seater sidecar which has a second seat for occasional use. If not occupied, the rear seat area can be used for luggage.

It sold for £98 when fitted to an H1 machine, or £85 if fitted to an H2.


A sidecar with a child's seat.

It has a safe and compact compartment at the back for a child, with side panels, so that the child is as well protected as its parent sitting in front.

The lightweight touring sidecar is a small sidecar that can be fitted to the 3.49 hp. and 4.98 hp. models.
The 4.98 hp. combination consists of a special touring sidecar with an extra large locker, and a standard 4.98 hp. machine. 
The standard aluminium sports sidecar is roomy, fitted with a spring back, and well upholstered with a large locker at the rear. It can be fitted to the 7.99 hp. machines, or to the smaller machines when fitted with a lightweight chassis.
The super sports aluminium sidecar is light in weight, and streamlined, and can be fitted to all models. It is ideally suitable for track or road racing.
The special racing sidecar can be fitted to all models, and is suitable for the more serious sportsman. It has special cushions on top of the mudguard, and a loop frame over the passenger for cornering purposes.

Return to the
previous page
Return to
the Beginning
Proceed to the
next page