Early history of Norton motorcycles

James Lansdowne Norton was born in 1869, the son of a Birmingham cabinet maker. At age 29 James Norton started Norton Manufacturing Company in 1898.

Initially, the company built frames for Clement-Garrard motorbicycles, powered by a French 160cc clip-on motor that made a whopping single horsepower at 1,100 rpm.

The Norton enterprise was also manufacturing components for the large number of new firms coming into the two wheel industry in 1902-1903 an in some cases even complete machines.

Norton set the pace early in the Isle of Man whir Rem Fowler won the twin-cylinder class of the first TT on a Norton in 1907.

In 1908, the 633cc side valve Big 4 was introduced with production continuing through World War II.

Unfortunately James Norton went into bankruptcy in 1913. He started the business again shortly after that with Bob Shelly and named the company Norton Motors Ltd.

In 1922, Norton produced their first OHV machine, the model 18, one of the quickest bikes around. James Norton died in 1925.
Early history of Norton motorcycles 

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