Sunbeam side-valve engines spanning the
Above: 1914 (Brighton, March 2008)
Top right: 1927 (Black Country Vehicle Rally, July 2003)
Bottom right: 1933/34 (Black Country Vehicle Rally, July 2003)
Contact the web-site:
What's New on the web-site?
Up-dated Events page for 2012
Revised 'Know Your Sunbeams' with images added for
1921 and 1926!
22 May 2011
Report from last year's Banbury Run
in the Events section - taster for this year!
Report from this year's Pioneer Run
in the Events section
Up-dated Events page
Report from the archives of the 2nd Marston Sunbeam Register Annual Rally in
Details of Marston
Sunbeam Club & Register's first Annual General Meeting
Sunbeam sidecar outfit
Marston Sunbeam Club &
Register page up-dated
15 July 2010
Report on April's Spring Motorcycle Gathering at Brooklands
News about an exciting
Sunbeam exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery
13 June 2010
George Peck, former Sunbeamland employee, celebrates his 100th
Tales from 1931 of Jan
and Cora Gordon's travels in France on a Sunbeam
14 May 2010
on this year's Pioneer Run in the Events section
4 May 2010
A forum for members of the Marston Sunbeam Club & Register is added to
26 April 2010
Stafford Classic Motorcycle
Show report in Events section
1 February 2010
Info on T.T. rider Tom Sheard added (at last!) to Sunbeamland section
31 January 2010
section for 2010
15 January 2010
'sales & wants' section added to the website
Link to Petrolbug's
Japanese blog detailing the restoration of a Model 8
1931 'Know your
Sunbeams' up-dated and photos added
6 January 2010
Illustration of 1916
MAG-engined v-twin to 'Know your Sunbeams'.
1916 General Service model
and 1936 Lion photos /
requests for info from owners in 'Running 'n' Riding section.
Site launched: 11 May 2008
Site last up-dated: 19 February
Sunbeam Side-valve Motorcycles
Sunbeam motorcycles are delights of
mechanical engineering; their side-valves no exception. The sporting side-valve was rivalled for speed only by the
equivalent Norton of the 1920s, although the 'Beam had the edge! Throughout
the 1920s Sunbeam justifiably advertised it as the fastest 3˝ h.p. side-valve motorcycle
supplied as standard to the public. In 1922 Sunbeam gave us the last side-valve
machine to win the Senior T.T. Sunbeams are arguably the finest side-valve
engines ever produced. Some of us think so.
The most notable amongst the Sunbeam
side-valves is the legendary race winning ‘Longstroke’ of the 1920s. On its introduction it won the Senior T.T. and French Grand Prix. It continued in
the way through the 1920s and '30s. With a stroke of 105.5mm it really is a
grand old thumper.
The Sunbeam side-valve in its 600cc Model 7
guise also has a certain notoriety. It was the last flat-tank motorcycle to
remain in production, still available in 1932 when most major manufacturers had
changed to 'saddle tank' models before the end of the 1920s.
John Marston Ltd
were produced by John Marston Ltd, based at the world famous 'Sunbeamland'
Works in Wolverhampton, England - which still survives!
Production spanned the years 1912 to 1940. For the last few years, following
the take-over of the company in September 1937 by Associated Motor Cycles
(AMC) of London, machines were assembled from Wolverhampton-made parts
in Plumstead, London. For two
years until 1940 AMC also produced their own, new, Sunbeam-badged OHV models
based on Wolverhampton precedents. But, war brought civilian production to
AMC's sale of the Sunbeam trademarks to BSA of Birmingham in 1943
effectively ended the lineage of the Marston motorcycle.
A Lasting Legacy
Production may have ceased in 1940 but
Sunbeam side-valves have been running since then, championed by those drawn to
these fine machines from motorcycling's Golden Age.
The earliest are light, bicycle-like
machines propelled by exceedingly sporty engines. A revelation in the present
era when motorcycle design has evolved to provide us with far weightier
machines requiring all the complexity of a two-wheeled motor car!
The later models, to quote a 1931
reviewer in 'Motor Cycling', are, ' a thoroughly sound and a particularly
attractive machine ... with an engine which gives an excellent turn of speed
coupled with extraordinary docility and tractability, it is a splendid steering
model which can be thoroughly recommended to riders - of no matter what class -
who are looking for a machine which will accomplish arduous work pleasantly,
easily and nigh on indefinitely.'
the 'links' at the head of the page to find your way around the site to view
* An evolving catalogue of
contemporary photos and illustrations of all the motorcycles produced
* The fate of
the original Sunbeamland factory, lying vacant on the outskirts of Wolverhampton
city centre, and how its wider heritage legacy lives on
* The running and
riding of old Sunbeam motorcycles
* Hints and tips from
* A little about the
Marston Sunbeam Club & Register - the marque club for Wolverhampton-made 'Beams
* A listing for events where Sunbeams
are likely to be featured should you want to go out to meet like-minded enthusiasts
Use of photos on the web site
All photos on this site are my own with
certain exceptions - notably historic photos from Marston catalogues which
I have taken to be 'public domain'. In the small number of cases where
other photos appear on the site, I have tried to credit the source.
I am happy for my own photographs to be used
on other non-commercial web sites. Just drop me a line first and acknowledge
the source as www.sunbeamsidevalve.com.
I photograph motorcycles at events
open to the public.
However, if you or your motorcycle feature on the web site and you would
prefer that the photograph did not appear, let me know and I will remove it.
On a brighter note, if you are happy to find yourself or your machine on the
site it would be great to hear from you.