This very rare machine is resplendent with unusual features. In an era when each manufacturer strove to outdo its competitors with innovative crossframe design – as well as trying to avoid Raleigh’s cross frame patent by creating a new style – New Imperial’s ‘Girplex’ was quite unique.
The company offered this machine built of duplex tubes …the cross bar is duplex (twin-tubed), as are the front forks, rear stays and seat stays.
At the turn of the century, the Imperial Cycle Co offered brake options advanced for that era, and the rear brakes on this model are unique too (below).
1910 New Imperial ‘Girplex’ Cross Frame
This New Imperial was found in a shed in Bournemouth thirty years ago. It was rusty when I bought it, but has now been sympathetically restored.
NEW IMPERIAL CYCLE Co LTD
Imperial Works, Lower Loveday St, Birmingham
New Imperial is better known for its motorcycles than its bicycles. The company appears to have started in 1887 as the Imperial Cycle Co, making cycle fittings. Its address in 1895 was 87A Jamaica Row, when it was managed by John Henry Rouse. Norman Duckwood Downes was the manager in 1903 when the company was located at Hack, St and, subsequently, Bromley St. Birmingham.
Around 1901 there were ten ‘Imperial’ models, four ‘Peerage’ models plus a gents cushion tyre model and one made with BSA or Eadie fittings. The first motorcycle was introduced in 1901, a bicycle fitted with a handlebar-mounted engine belt-driven to the front wheel. It was not successful. The main focus was on cycle production, but the company still experimented with motorcycles. The model reviewed below is believed to have been introduced in 1905.
By 1906 the company had moved to an extensive new factory at Imperial Works in Lower Loveday St.
As you can see from the memorandum below, the Imperial Cycle Co was liquidated in December 1907, with the assets purchased by the New Imperial Cycle Co, this company name having been registered in 1908.
The Imperial name was used by many manufacturers for particular models of bicycle, some of the better known examples being Rover, Triumph, Ames & Frost, and there were other companies with the same company name Imperial Cycle Co, one in Coventry and another in America.
Thanks to David, of the New Imperial Owners Club, for the following articles…
1901 IMPERIAL CYCLE Co CATALOGUE
NEW IMPERIAL GIRPLEX BEFORE RESTORATION