One of the lesser-known of Britain's motorcycle manufacturers, Montgomery's were among the pioneers, having built Fafnir-engined models in the 1900s. But William Montgomery was also interested in the problem of carrying a passenger on a motorcycle, and after early experiments he went into production with a sidecar in 1903 almost coincidentally with Graham Brothers, who are generally credited with the invention.
At that time the Montgomery works were located in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and it was from there that a flat-twin Montgomery was announced in 1913. This made use of the prototype Morton & Weaver (Coventry-Victor) flat-twin engine, an unusual feature of which was that the driving pulley was mounted on the end of the camshaft and so ran at half engine-speed.
Wartime brought a halt to Montgomery's motorcycle (but not sidecar) production, and it was not until 1922 that the company reentered the two-wheeler field, this time, from works in Coventry.
As befits a sidecar pioneer, Montgomery had two entries in the first Sidecar TT in 1923, one driven by W. Montgomery in person, though sad to say neither outfit finished. Later, though, Montgomery solos were quite regular contestants both at Brooklands and in the Isle of Man, and fourth and sixth places in the 1924 Junior TT can be counted as very respectable performances
The company also manufactured frames and other components for rival manufacturers, notably Poppe & Packman, and it was a disastrous fire which led to the eventual passing of P & P; the Montgomery works were totally gutted in December 1925, and as a result Montgomery machines were off the market for two years. The P & P concern, less financially well-heeled than Montgomery, was unable to survive the enforced stoppage of production, and sold the business to Wooler.
Once Montgomery were back, they expanded the range considerably so that by 1930 they were able to offer a comprehensive selection of two-strokes, four-strokes, both side-valve and overhead-valve, singles and twins from 250 and 750 cc. Boosted by the fact that Syd Jackson had won TT replicas in the Lightweight, Junior and Senior races on Montgomery models, the firm announced that 'TT experience has been utilised in the design of all Montgomery frames and forks, and comfortable riding positions with easy steering have been attained'.
Well, perhaps; but the frame lower rear stays seemed to finish a little oddly, beneath the gearbox. The Greyhound models were the top of the range and, not surprisingly, had a standard finish of grey enamel, although for 15s 6d extra the fuel tank and mudguards could be specially finished in red, apple green or ivory.
As the depression years of the early 'thirties began to bite, so Montgomery cut back on their range, and to save expense adopted the practice of channelling their entire output through one London dealer, in this case Renno's of Islington. Yet things did improve, and as Britain started to pull back into prosperity, so Montgomery spread their wings again, announcing for the 1939 season a selection of mounts extending from 98 and 125 cc Villiers lightweights, up to JAP-powered four-strokes in standard and de luxe editions, the latter (250, 350 and 500 cc) featuring new cradle frames incorporating plunger-type rear suspension.
But the clouds were gathering, and with the declaration of war Montgomery production ended. As late as 21 September 1939, Renno's were advertising 'New Machines Actually In Stock for Immediate Delivery', but that was all.
|Engine:||LAP 680 cc (85,5 x 85 mm bore and stroke) overhead-valve 50° vee-twin|
|Tyres:||3.50 x 19 in front and rear, wired edge|
|Frame:||Brazed-lug diamond construction. No rear springing|
|Front forks:||Brampton girders|
|Brakes:||Drums, 7 in diameter front and rear|
|Manufacturer:||W. Montgomery & Co., Leicester Causeway, Coventry|