Museum for Humber Bicycles

Humber: Cycling in the Old Days



Humber was founded by Thomas Humber in 1868 to make the Ordinary. With the first diamond-frame in 1884, they became renowned bicycle manufacturers. Financial whiz-kid Terah Hooley subsequently took over the company and Humber left in 1892.

Humber produced the following booklet in 1919 with a potted history of the company.








In the picture below of the 1900 Stanley Show, the Humber stand is in the foreground (with Osmonds and Bradbury behind).


The company started experimenting with powered machines in 1896, working with entrepreneur Harry Lawson in Coventry, who had the rights to build the De Dion engine. Lawson also had the rights to De Dion’s tricycle, which Humber made for him in 1898. The Humber Electric Tandem below, with four accumulators and an electric motor, plus pedal power from two riders, was exhibited at the Stanley Show in November 1897.

Humber started building P&M machines under license in 1902 and exhibited their own Beeston-Humber machines in 1903. By 1908 they had their own lineup and soon had several race winners including the Junior TT in 1911. They announced a 750cc flat-three in 1913, but never produced it. In 1914, they made a water-cooled 500cc single and a water-cooled 750cc flat twin.

During WW1 they made sidecar outfits for the war effort, returning to civilian production in 1919. Their 2 3/4 hp model had a great success in 1923 in the Scottish Six day Trials. In 1927 they announced a 350cc ohc machine, but it wasn’t successful. Sales slumped and by 1931 the company had left motorcycling to concentrate on cars. The bicycle business was sold to Raleigh in 1932.