1906 Sparkbrook Grand ‘Model C’ Light Roadster
Early pattern Sturmey-Archer 3-speed gear
Sparkbrook’s sales line was revised for the 1906 season. Although some earlier models were retained at cheaper prices, their top of the range models now featured the Sparkbrook patent roller lever operated rod brakes.
The price for the basic single speed ‘Grand’ without a gear case was £14 5/-. A ‘Hub’ 2 speed gear added £2 to the price. But if you wanted the latest Sturmey-Archer 3-speed gear it would set you back £17 5/- in total. This was Sturmey-Archer’s first successful 3-speed, produced without a serial number, which was reintroduced and mass-marketed in 1910 as the ‘Model X’.
I purchased this large-frame Sparkbrook from a friend who used it for long-distance touring. So he fitted panniers onto its Sparkbrook patent rear carrier rack, and attached cable ties to various parts just in case they fell off while riding fast! I’ve left it like that, but you can safely remove them for your own riding. It’s in good all-round condition. Points of note are the large Brooks B33 saddle, four-bar rubber pedals and Bluemels handlebar grips. And, as well as the carrier & panniers, it comes with a P&M Acetylene Lighting set, bell and inflator pump. This is a well-maintained machine, recently serviced, and it’s ready for duty under new ownership.
SPARKBROOK MFG CO
Originally established as the National Arms & Ammunition Co. in Birmingham in 1882, the company was bought by the Sparkbrook Manufacturing Co. in 1883 and a move was made to Much Park Street, Coventry, then in November 1889 to Paynes Lane, Coventry, Warwickshire. In 1898 it also had showrooms at 14 Holborn Viaduct (where S. H. Stevens was the manager), 133 Hammersmith Road, 26 and 28 Shaftesbury Avenue, London. Manufacturer of ‘National’, ‘Sparkbrook’ and ‘Tangent’ high-wheelers from c.1883-88. Some early tricycles from c.1887 were produced with double chain drive and two speeds, the gear change being operated by a foot lever. The ‘Sparkbrook’ roadster in 1886 presented a tangent-spoked wheel and was acclaimed as the best in its class at £17 10s., complete. In 1900 the model range included the ‘Duplex Grand’ for lady or gentleman, the ‘National’ road racer (at £10), the ‘National’ full or light roadster (at £10), the ‘Grand’ (at £17), and tricycle (at £24).
A number of interesting features were produced by Sparkbrook for their roadsters in the early 1900s, including a cast rear carrier that bolted onto the rear frame triangle, a seat bolt that did double-duty as a gear cable pulley, and a pulley beneath the bracket for the rear brake cable. Another feature at this time is the scalloped bracket cup on the chain side.
Sparkbrook provided a free wheel made under licence from Lea & Francis. This was fitted to ‘Grand’ and ‘Special’ single-speed models. This free wheel arrangement had the free wheel running directly on the hub spindle with the ratchet mechanism comprised in the hub. This was made under licence from a Lea & Francis patent 1900/9880. When gears were fitted Sparkbrook supplied either the Lea & Francis two-speed or Sturmey-Archer three-speed.
[Ray Miller’s Encyclopaedia]
1906 STURMEY-ARCHER 3-SPEED GEAR