Most Moorson cycles were made to order, the specification following the current fashion. However, in 1926 F.E. Moore introduced his Twin Tube frame, registered design 726545, patent no. 269418, which was one of the first unorthodox frames of the 1920s and attracted attention, as did others such as Granby Taper Tube and later Hetchins, Baines, Bates, etc. The design extended the seat & chainstay around the seat tube forming twin top and down tubes. Here they were flattened and wrapped around the steering head top and bottom. This gave extra strength and rigidity all round. Various experimental lugs were tried but finally discarded in favour of lapped tubes. This technique was lighter and neater, as well as permitting any frame angle to be made, including ladies’ open frames. At least two of these still exist. Interestingly, the World War 2 BSA Army Folder also uses this method of construction. The Moorson was used by many successful racers in the Midlands and it is possible that the designer of the BSA folder had seen a Moorson Twin Tube.
– Tony Hadland *
Although you need to look closely to see it in the photograph below – it’s hidden by the inflator pump – as well as the duplex top tube, the down tube is similarly twin-tubed. There is also a brazed-on tube above the pedals to provide extra stability.
Duplex tubing was not a new concept when F.E Moore patented his twin tube frame design in 1926 (above). It had been tried out by various manufacturers in 1889, including Hillman, Herbert & Cooper (Premier), Jackson & Co (Fleet), and on the Rudge (below). It nevertheless set a trend in the British cycle industry in the 1920s, and other makers of quality machines were obliged to follow suit with bicycles featuring unorthodox, eye-catching designs. The Moorson Twin Tube is now considered a design classic.
Although the Moorson Twin Tube was a very well-built machine and popular among the racing fraternity, surprisingly few have survived. This example is in remarkably well-preserved original unrestored condition, and features the Moorson patent folding handlebar and a Moorson inflator pump inscribed ‘Moorson Cycles, Selly Park, Northfield’ (Birmingham).
1934 Moorson Superior Twin Tube
BSA Three Speed Gear
Frame No #4034
MOORSON ADJUSTABLE HANDLEBARS
By loosening the nut on each side of the handlebar, the end portions can be adjusted up or down to suit. As can be seen in the catalogue illustration, loosening the stem bolt allows the entire handlebar to drop, and then various racing handlebar styles can be adopted, from full drops to Lauterwasser Flats.
UNDER THE BOTTOM BRACKET
An inspection of the bottom bracket revealed some interesting information about this Moorson Twin Tube. No #4034 is presumably the 40th machine built in 1934. But above that is another stamping ‘REPAIRED 1049’. So it would appear that the factory took it in for a repair in October 1949. I’ve no idea what was repaired – everything looks to be in perfect condition.
However, according to Tony Hadland, who has researched this marque, the business name changed from ‘Moore & Son’ to ‘Moore & Sons’ in 1938. As this machine displays the later name on its transfers (decals) rather than the earlier one (when only one of his sons worked with Moore Senior), it would appear to have been resprayed by the company in 1949 after its repair.
F.E. MOORE CYCLES – 1914 to late 1920s
F.E. MOORE & SON – late 1920s to 1938
F.E. MOORE & SONS – 1938 to 29th September 1976
The business that became F.E. Moore & Sons was established in 1914 at 816, Pershore Road, Selly Park, Birmingham using the front room of this terraced house as a shop. Earlier in the year, on 13th March 1914 Norman, the second of two sons, was born to the proprietor Francis Ernest Moore (pictured below) and his wife Rebecca. Ernest Henry, their elder son, had been born eight years earlier on 23rd September 1906.
The first company name used was F.E. Moore. The name was later changed to F.E. Moore & Son when Ernest was brought into the business as a partner in the late 1920s. Expansion took place first into 818 Pershore Road, the c.1890s Victorian terraced house next door. A workshop approximately 30ft. square was built across the two gardens at the rear. It was a prefabricated building purchased specifically for that purpose.
Bicycle frame building was carried out using ‘Town Gas’ and air in a coke hearth; the air was supplied by foot-bellows. By the early 30s business had increased to such an extent that a display area for cycles was set up in a proper shop at the corner of Wallace & Pershore Roads. The hardware business from these premises was transferred to the ‘shop’ in the front room of 818 in April 1933.
The whole business had been originally opened in the small front room of a terraced house where there would be little room to display cycles. Few small companies were able to afford stocks of cycles and most were bought-in to order. Cyclists of that period were cautious and spent many hours poring over makers catalogues before spending hard-earned money. Consequently, they were prepared to wait for a cycle to be delivered. Delivery would usually only take a day or two at most.
At sometime during 1932, Hiley’s Shoe Shop was taken on at 816 Bristol Road South, Northfield some three miles away. By coincidence, it had the same street number as the headquarters in Pershore Road. The shopfitting was carried out by Norman in his ‘spare-time’ after work. He had excelled at woodwork due to the kindness shown by Mr Webb, the woodwork teacher at Bournville School. This was unusual for that period of draconian education. Bournville is best known for its chocolate made by the Quaker family of Cadbury.
When the new shop was running smoothly carrying out repairs and selling spares with Norman in sole charge, a manager by the name of Plevy was employed but this proved to be unsatisfactory. A cousin replaced him and stayed with the company until the start of WW2.
This left Norman free to open up another shop at 7 High Street, Smethwick in 1934. It remained open until 1946. As with the Northfield branch, Norman carried out the shop fitting and rigged up a workshop for repairs. This was sold in 1946 whilst Norman was still working at the Aluminium Bronze Company. Brother Ernie was running Northfield and F.E. was running headquarters with Norman’s help after work.
At long last in 1938 the company name was changed to F.E. Moore & Sons, Norman being formally taken into the business. Prior to leaving school Norman had been used liberally as free labour in his father’s firm. Now Ernest Jnr. was finding it hard to cope, so Norman was again used to ‘pitch in’. As they got older, Norman and Ernest we got on well together, both working 60-70 hours per week for pocket money.
One memorable Whitsuntide, they were inundated with work and starting at 8.00am Friday, worked right through until 9.00pm Saturday, with meals being taken at the bench. At 2.00am Norman took two new bicycle to New Street Station, riding his own machine, not wishing to walk the four miles home. He had one slung over his shoulder and pushed the other. The parcel office being closed, he rode straight onto the platform and being unable to lift the machine off his shoulder, he banged the office door with his front wheel. When a porter eventually came, Norman asked for some help: the porter’s response was unrepeatable. Nonetheless, their customer in Edinburgh was able to collect his new mount from the station later that day just in time to start his tour.
After its introduction, the Moron Twin Tube had many successes and became quite popular in the Birmingham area. It was available as a tourer, path or road racer, and in ladies’ and tandem versions. In one catalogue, the Roadster Model specification tells us that “It is strong enough to convert into a tradesman’s cycle by fitting a detachable carrier and carrier tyres.” In fact, F.E. had intended to build a tricycle and had purchased a used Abingdon axle for that purpose. Regretfully neither F.E. nor Norman his successor built one.
On 29th September 1976, Norman sold the two businesses, lock, stock & barrel to Thomas Lugsdin. Neither Tom or his wife Anita had a clue and let both businesses run down. Finally Tom repaired cycles in the back of a large van. In 1978, two years after he had sold the business, Norman made the last Twin Tube for himself which he used until his death on 4th May 1995 for tours and special occasions. He used a 1968 model for local and everyday rides.
[This information – summarising John Pinkerton’s interviews with F.E Moore in the late 1980s – is copied mostly verbatim from Tony Hadland’s website – https://hadland.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/moorson-cycles]
c1889 TWIN TUBE DESIGNS
RIDING THE 1934 MOORSON TWIN TUBE
* Moorson info with thanks to Tony Hadland – https://hadland.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/moorson-cycles/