1940s Mercury Military Roadster
Officially described as: ‘Bicycle, Trade Pattern, Heavy Duty’
With Military Transfers & Tag
26 x 2 x 1 3/4 Tyres
This is an original military Mercury that was sold many years ago in an army auction in Wiltshire. My friend Richard bought all eleven of them. They are distinguishable by their army tags around the top tubes.
He sold five, and I purchased the rest from him over the past five years. I’m keeping two (you can see them on the www.BSAbikes.co.uk Military Bicycle Museum website: a Mercury Army Medic’s bikes and a Mercury Fire Service bike) and sold most of the others. This is the only other tagged Mercury still available for sale.
It has not been repainted, but is completely original, still bearing its Mercury headstock transfer (illegible), good seat tube MERCURY transfer, and army markings (these types of markings usually indicated its area of service and where it was stored). The Brooks saddle is very scruffy but usable.
Mercury military bicycles were not used during WW2 (Mercury Industries was formed in 1947), but are the same specification as the BSA Mk V and officially known as ‘Bicycle, Trade Pattern, Heavy Duty.’ Many were used on airfields. The British Army was busy after WW2, with a lot of post-war work in Europe, supporting the US Army, campaigns in India, Palestine, Africa, Malaya, Suez, etc, and these bicycles saw military service. They were used by both British and American troops.
Mercury Industries (Birmingham) Ltd
Stratford Rd, Birmingham. Registered Company Number 419738.
As a cycle manufacturing company, Mercury Industries (Birmingham) Ltd was very different from its competitors. The retail home market was not its priority. Instead, Mercury was established to provide exports and fulfill ministry contracts.
The company was formed in 1946, with premises in Stratford Rd, Birmingham, and trading as the Mercury Cycle Company.
Throughout the War, the Government had issued contracts to industry. British industry was, in effect, nationalized.
This arrangement was dismantled only slowly when the War ended. One reason was the top priority of procuring foreign exchange by suppressing demand in the home market and maximizing exports.
As Mercury Industries Ltd was so successful in their postwar venture, I find it hard to believe that the Government and key players in the bicycle manufacturing industry did not have major involvement.
As journalist and Mercury expert Mark Daniels describes it:
Their rise was meteoric: within a year the business relocated to Dock Lane, Dudley to accommodate increasing demand and rocketing North American exports projected at $1,500,000!
By 1948 some 200 employees were already on the payroll; then with the 1950s came the cyclemotor and new opportunities for the first motorised products. These were specially constructed, heavy gauge gents ‘Diamond’ and ladies ‘Open’ style Mercury frames to mount the Cyclemaster unit, made specifically for this purpose and supplied with no rear wheel. 1953 listings added a Pillion frame with pad and footrests, and the Roundsman 1cwt rated delivery frame with small front wheel and large carrier. All four products continued up to 1955.
Without direct public sales during its years of bicycle manufacture, Mercury Industries did not advertise until around 1952 when it became involved with Cyclemasters and, subsequently, scooters. Its scooters were totally misconceived, and this led directly to the collapse of the company and liquidation, in 1958.