John Marston, the man who started it all, was born in Ludlow in 1836. He was the son of a minor landowning family, who sent him to Wolverhampton, at the age of 15 to be apprenticed to Edward Perry, a japanware manufacturer. At the age of 23 he left and set up his own japanning business in Bilston, making any and every sort of domestic article. John did so well that after Perry died in 1869, he took over Perry's company in 1871 and incorporated it in his own.

He started making bicycles with great success, and on the suggestion of his wife Ellen, adopted the brand name "Sunbeam". His Paul Street works, which still survive today, were called Sunbeamland. He then started to make Sunbeam cars, and later motorcycles, for which there was a large and increasing market.

Read about John Marston  and the Company

Move the cursor on to the picture to see how things used to be. 

Steve Corbett has an interesting Sunbeam website at: It's well worth a visit.


George Peck, an-ex Sunbeam employee, who greatly helped with the detailed plans of the factory.
Sunbeam literature and adverts.
Robert Cordon Champ, "The Sunbeam Motorcycle", Haynes Publishing Group, 1986.
Marjorie von Harten and Melissa Marston, "Man of Wolverhampton", Coombe Springs Press.
Jim Boulton and Harold Parsons, "Powered Vehicles Made in the Black Country", Black Country Society, 1990.

Return to the list of manufacturers Proceed to The Early Years