I took a trip to the old Norton factory in bracebridge street, Birmingham today. I was on my 1960 Dominator - bought new by my late father in early '62
It was to this building that James Norton located in 1916 with the company later producing so many TT winning Manx Norton's. They probably emerged gleaming brand new from that large doorway.... Sadly, it was closed in 1963 - and Norton under pressure from AMC relocated to London.
It's now derelict - a sad end to such a productive and historic place....
In 1961, age only about 21, my father came here en-route to Velocette's Hall Green factory to pick his repaired Venom Clubman up (he'd crashed it). He said just inside the front door was a sectioned Manx Norton engine which could be turned with a handle connected to the crankshaft. Must have been this door.... there used to be a huge 'Norton' sign above it.
Just after I arrived, I actually spoke to the previous owner - he's moved across the street. So this building is now empty. All I know is that Norton motors were listed as being on bracebridge street as from around 1916 - that large entrance looks to be from the 1950's. Thinking about it, I'm sure bikes were taken out someplace else - it's not really big enough to cope with mass transit... But I do have a picture in a book somewhere, of Joe Craig stood outside that doorway in the mid '50's
I was here in 1997 when Geoff Duke unveiled a plaque just above to the right of the doorway. Seems like someone's stolen it....
Apparently someone in the NOC took down the blue plaque 'for safety'.
Bracebridge St was the Admin (Offices) and Race Shop, Aston Brook St was the factory entrance. They expanded at some point to Bracebridge St, 1916 sounds possible. Be interesting to see a rundown of how the factory functioned inside, and changed over time ?
Thanks for the updates. Cheers.
Re: Taking a 1960 Norton Dominator 'home'
#397756 10/07/114:44 am10/07/114:44 am
My Father bought it brand new in March 1962; it came as a standard Dommi '99' and had been sat in a dealers for 18 months and was on sale as the shop was closing down - it came without the screen and leg shields, just like the photos above; he bought those as after market items. I'm almost 100% certain he said they were made by the company Avon. The leg shields which also covered the engine proved to be a hinderance, so they were removed not long after this photo was taken. I have another photo somewhere with it just sporting the wind shield.
However, it did come with the fully enclosed rear chain guard - to my knowledge, that was only fitted as standard to the fully enclosed Dominator Deluxe; the model which had the big 'bathtub' enclosure...
In '63 he fitted a leather tank cover and that stayed on for 30+ years. He repainted the whole bike a khaki green. When it came time for the restoration, we took off the leather tank cover and the original paintwork was still in tact. The new paint matches exactly that - it's listed as 'Polychromatic Grey' and the cream is actually 'Dove Grey'
Still on the original Monobloc, I still have the original handlebar mirror and rear carrier hanging up in the garage too. She's a keeper..