ARMSTRONG TRIPLEX 3-SPEED Co LTD
Armstrong Works, Icknield St, Birmingham
Sturmey Archer had not yet dominated the market in the early years of the 20th century, and there was considerable competition for 3-Speed gears. Armstrong was a major player in the field.
William Reilly invented the Tricoaster three-speed hub for Raleigh. Harry Reilly (William’s brother) set up Armstrong-Triplex Three-Speed Gear Co in 1906, using one of William’s discarded hub designs. Armstrong was Harry’s father-in-law. This caused a rift with the Bowdens of Raleigh, and William Reilly resigned from Raleigh in 1910.
New Hudson favoured the Armstrong gear. Armstrong Triplex was incorporated as a limited company in 1907, with their headquarters the St. George’s Engineering factory. Apparently, when St. George’s Engineering’s New Rapid Cycle Co got into financial difficulties, New Rapid was taken over by New Hudson.
In 1914 Raleigh bought the Armstrong-Triplex Three Speed Co from New Hudson for £6000.
1910s New Hudson Tourist Roadster
with Armstrong Gear Trigger
Brooks ‘B66’ Saddle
Frame number D27216
This New Hudson used to have an Armstrong three speed gear, but it stopped working and the previous owner replaced it with a normal single speed hub. As the Armstrong gear trigger was built into the top tube that part of it remains. The previous owner restored the bicycle many years ago: the paint is chipped in a few places, but the nickel is like new. It has some interesting features unique to New Hudson, including their patent brakework with a rod linkage to the rear brake that travels around the bicycle. The inflator pump clips are brazed on. I purchased it in France, and it has very attractive French handlebar grips. It’s in good order throughout and ready to ride.
NEW HUDSON CYCLE Co Ltd
The New Hudson marque began in the late 1800’s as a bicycle factory in Birmingham, England. The owner, George Patterson, made his first motorcycle in 1902, but as it was not a sales success, no more motor cycles were produced until 1910.
New Hudson used the premises previously occupied by New Rapid Cycle Co, the St George’s Engineering factory. New Rapid Cycle Co were in financial difficulties by 1898. By 1907, Armstrong Triplex gears were being made at the St. George’s Engineering factory. New Hudson Cycle Manufacturing Co Ltd were major customers for the Armstrong Triplex gears, and it is believed that they took over the New Rapid Cycle Co.
From 1910 to 1932, with the exception of years 1915 to 1919 when WWI meant only munitions and bicycles were made, motorcycle production averaged about 2000 each year. The company were always keen on gaining success in motor cycle sport and gained many good results. However lacking the finances of larger companies their best result in the Isle of Man TT was Jimmy Guthrie’s second place in the Senior event in 1927.
In 1932 due to the depression motor cycle production ceased as it was no longer profitable. However, the company continued to make bicycles, and also diversified into making the Girling brake systems for cars.
In 1940 the bicycle factory began to produce an autocycle with a 98cc Villiers engine which was a success. The bicycle factory was purchased by BSA in 1943 and production continued under the New Hudson name. The Girling brake factory passed into the ownership of Joseph Lucas. After the second World War B.S.A. continued to make autocycles bearing the New Hudson name until 1957.
The old New Hudson premises became the Swan Kettle factory in 1933. As you can see from the article below, it is now due for redevelopment.
NEW HUDSON PATENT BRAKEWORK
32nd STANLEY SHOW, NOVEMBER 1908