From Weapons to Wheels

The Birmingham Small Arms Company was awarded a contract to supply the military with motorcycles - 126,334 BSA M20s were produced during World War Two

War is often the trigger to technological advancement; the Birmingham Small Arms Company Ltd (BSA) came about because of the war in Crimea in 1854. It was started in 1861 by members of a gunsmith’s trade association who persuaded the then government’s war office to give them access to the USA-built machinery and drawings at the Board of Ordnance’s Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield whose mechanisation had bolstered the necessary supply to that battlefield. The newly-formed company tooled up Armoury Road, a site in Small Heath in Birmingham. Though it wasn’t all plain sailing, the company, by focussing on interchangeable parts, quickly diversified from the manufacture of small arms to making bicycles, which led them into the supply of parts for motorcycles. This in turn, led eventually to their own motorcycle models being produced in 1910.

Want to read more?

This is a premium article and requires an active subscription.

Existing subscriber? Sign in now

No subscription?

Pick one of our introductory offers