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Tottenham: the Birthplace of the Motorcycle Industry?

Not many people would associate Tottenham, in North London, with motorcycles, let alone possibly being the birthplace of the motorcycle industry.

Artists impression of the JAP factory c.1915

The story starts in 1895 when John Alfred Prestwich founded the J.A.P. Company. Prestwich was another of the Lea Valley’s prolific inventors who designed and manufactured cameras, printers, projectors and machines for perforating, measuring and cutting film. He also became an expert at the art of making and showing films. By 1903 the J.A.P. Company had already produced a 293 cc engine, which was incorporated by the Triumph Cycle Company of Birmingham into one of their machines. At that time the motor-cycle industry was going through an uncertain phase in the vehicle’s popularity. However, the J.A.P. engine, which was made to exacting standards was reported to be so reliable that its introduction was said to have founded the motor-cycle industry in Britain. 

Between 1903 and 1909 J.A.P. manufactured not only motor-cycle engines but complete machines and even experimented with early motor car construction.In 1909  Prestwich constructed the  monoplane below at Tottenham, which  is currently on display at the Science Museum in London. 

A romance with the J.A.P. Company for thousands of motor-cycle speedway enthusiasts still lives on today, as the J.A.P. Company produced many of the speedway bikes, ridden by their heroes. The Company closed in 1963, succumbing to increasing pressure, brought about in the main by overseas competition. 

©The Pump House Steam & Transport Museum Trust
Walthamstow .