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Did you know? - there was once a car manufacturer in Stoke-on-Trent

The Menley Motor Co. of Etruria Road, Basford, Stoke-on-Trent was in operation in 1920 -the partners were John Frank Norman Riley and Clement Hugh Mendham.  

The company produced a cyclecar with an aircooled 999cc V-twin engine. Only 16 of these cyclecars were made and the company went into liquidation in 1920 - the same year that it was started. 

According to the 1911 census John Riley was living at Trinity House, 1A Etruria Road, Hanley, Stoke On Trent, a Cooper and Furniture Remover. With his wife Elsie Emily. John Riley was born c.1887 in Hanley. 

By 1920 John Riley was living at Kenwood, Princes Road, Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent, and Clement Mendham at 113, Victoria Street, Basford,

London Gazette 26 Nov 1920
Grace's Guide - British Industrial History
The Automobile A-Z of cards of the 1920's



The Menley Cyclecar
The Menley Cyclecar 
(picture: All Car Index

the aircooled 999cc V-twin engine produced 8 hp

The engine used to power the Menely cyclecar was manufactured by a company named Burney Blackburne Ltd. The Blackburne engine was made from 1908 to 1937 and used by many British and European motorcycle and cyclecar manufacturers. 


The 8hp air-cooled engine had a three speed gearbox and chain/belt transmission. It was said to be capable of reaching 60mph.

The frame was made of ash with tubular metal cross members and sold for £250



Cyclecars were small, generally inexpensive cars manufactured mainly between 1910 and the late 1920s.

Cyclecars were propelled by single cylinder, V-twin or more rarely four cylinder engines, often air cooled. Sometimes these had been originally used in motorcycles and other components from this source such as gearboxes were also employed. Cyclecars were halfway between motorcycles and cars and were fitted with lightweight bodies, sometimes in a tandem two-seater configuration and could be primitive with minimal comfort and weather protection. They used various layouts and means of transmitting the engine power to the wheels, such as belt drive or chain drive often to one rear wheel only to avoid having to provide a differential.
The rise of cyclecars was a direct result of reduced taxation both for registration and annual licences of lightweight small engined cars. 

From 1898 to 1910, automobile production quickly expanded. Light cars of that era were commonly known as voiturettes. The smaller cyclecars appeared around 1910 with a boom shortly before the outbreak of World War I. 
By the early 1920s, the days of the cyclecar were numbered. Mass producers, such as Ford, were able to reduce their prices to undercut those of the usually small cyclecar makers. Similar affordable cars were offered in Europe such as the CitroŽn 5CV, Austin 7 or Morris Cowley.
The cyclecar boom was over. The majority of cyclecar manufacturers closed down. 

[see Wikipedia Article]




The London Gazette, 26 November 1920

notice to the creditors of The Menley Motor Company

"In the Matter of a Deed of Assignment for the benefit of Creditors, executed on the 23rd day of August, 1920, by JOHN FRANK NORMAN RILEY, of Kenwood, Princes-road, Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent, in the county of Stafford, and CLEMENT HUGH MENDHAM, of 113, Victoria-street, Basford, Stoke-on-Trent aforesaid, trading in co-partnership under the style or firm of "The Menley Motor Company," at Basford aforesaid.

THE creditors of the above named John Frank Norman Riley and Clement Hugh Mendham (trading in co-partnership under the style or firm of "The Menley Motor Company") who have not already sent in their claims, are required by the Trustee under the said deed (Donald Harry Bates, of Cheapaide, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent aforesaid, Incorporated Accountant), on or before the, 7th day of December, 1920, to send, in their names and addresses, and the particulars of their debts or claims to the said Donald Harry Bates, at Cheapside, Hanley aforesaid, or in default thereof they will be excluded from the benefit of the dividend proposed to be declared.óDated this 22nd day of November, 1920.

JAMES E. MOXON and CO., Miles Bank, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Solicitors for the Trustee."





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