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Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: Tridentman] #631810
12/26/15 8:32 pm
12/26/15 8:32 pm
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Originally Posted By Tridentman
HB--just to correct a widespread misconception---no Marshall Plan money went to the UK--it went to Germany and Japan.
The UK had to get back on its own two feet--hence the worn out/bombed out machine tools in use.
And the US supplied the UK with war goods on account.
The UK had to pay back the US for all those tanks, aircraft, ships, ammunition etc.
The last repayments on the loans were made in 2010.
HTH


Absolutely on the money there Tridentman. Americans, with guilty consciences, totally rebuilt Japan and Germany and made its allies pay back every last cent. I'm not anti-US by any means, but the facts are facts.


'72 Bonneville
"He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have." - Don Juan Manuel
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Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: Hillbilly bike] #631811
12/26/15 8:36 pm
12/26/15 8:36 pm
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Originally Posted By Hillbilly bike
Originally Posted By Tridentman
HB--just to correct a widespread misconception---no Marshall Plan money went to the UK--it went to Germany and Japan.
The UK had to get back on its own two feet--hence the worn out/bombed out machine tools in use.
And the US supplied the UK with war goods on account.
The UK had to pay back the US for all those tanks, aircraft, ships, ammunition etc.
The last repayments on the loans were made in 2010.
HTH


TM, my info says the UK received the largest sum of money from the Marshall plan...here's the link and references... Let me see your info saying the UK received nothing

Money to Western Europe


Americans are quite simply, as are they prone to do, believe that they paid for everything everywhere. Stuff your Wikipedia reference, the UK paid the US back for every nut and bolt the US ever provided. End of story


'72 Bonneville
"He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have." - Don Juan Manuel
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: Tridentman] #631812
12/26/15 8:41 pm
12/26/15 8:41 pm
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Originally Posted By Tridentman
As John says the BSA (incl Triumph) motorcycle industry imploded in the late 1960s/ early 1970s.
Umberslade Hall is rightly criticized as one of the prime manifestations of this.
I was headhunted for a senior role at Umberslade Hall.
As a bike enthusiast I was flattered and interested.
I went there for an interview (after which I was offered the job).
What I saw there caused me turn down the job.
Everyone there was working/dreaming as if they were in la-la land.
Completely removed from reality.
It was obvious that the place would not last long---and I had a family and a mortgage to support.
As well as Umberslade (and in some respects Umberslade was because of these other factors) the introduction of managers and directors who knew f*** all about bikes IMHO spelt the death of the British industry as it was up until then.
A great shame--but it is now history and we cannot change it.
But we have to congratulate Bloor for what he has done with the new Triumph business.
When he started very few people thought that he had a cat in hells chance of being successful.
Again just my views.


Pretty much the short summary of what Hopwood says. smile


'72 Bonneville
"He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have." - Don Juan Manuel
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: doug748] #631860
12/27/15 1:21 am
12/27/15 1:21 am
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Originally Posted By doug748
Originally Posted By Rob Harper
don't forget that Britain also lost most of its automotive industry in the seventies. I don't think it can be laid at the feet of any one person, more a fact of post WWII European history


Yes, and aircraft and much else besides. The bikes have to be laid in context of the rest, as you suggest.

The irony with cars is that many of the surviving continental manufacturers were uniformly abysmal in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Think of Renault, Fiat, Peugeot. Yet they survive; in the UK many suspect a lack of political will and business/financial support at all levels.

However the fall of bike building is probably the most vivid example we have. If I was pressed to give one overriding reason why it happened, I would say poor engineering. We were content (and really only equipped) to make machines that just worked well enough and turned a profit. When Honda came along the game was up.


Getting back to Hopwood and his version of events. He makes no great comment about the antiquated British tooling, something commented on this forum frequently enough. It's unclear why? He does however briefly mention some Trade Union issues, which was to herald that particular storm which overwhelmed the UK by the 70's.

With Germany (and its great engineers) and Japan with new factories, the Brits were truly up against it with respect to manufacturing. They were were creative and innovative to be sure (well in some areas), and with old factories and little money they did supremely well all things considered.

I think Hopwood's story is one that say's, even with the success they enjoyed, and despite adverse environmental factors, if managers across the board had been better businessmen, it could have continued.

The killer for the UK was from the late '60's perhaps? was the rise in a negative influence of the trade union movement that strangled British industry for a decade until Maggie Thatcher got her revenge. RR

Last edited by RetroRod; 12/27/15 1:24 am.

'72 Bonneville
"He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have." - Don Juan Manuel
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: Tridentman] #631864
12/27/15 1:43 am
12/27/15 1:43 am
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Originally Posted By Tridentman
As John says the BSA (incl Triumph) motorcycle industry imploded in the late 1960s/ early 1970s.
Umberslade Hall is rightly criticized as one of the prime manifestations of this.


Clearly it was beyond the terms of reference for Hopwood's mémoire's to discuss political and societal impacts on the industry, however relevant. His is a personal experience account, albeit from his viewpoint, however prejudiced this may, or may not, have been.

Certainly he had bitter things to say about Slumberslade Hall and, when added to our present store of historical knowledge, rightly so.

Anyway TM, you've rightly reminded us that unlike in Hopwood's time, Bloor did not view the Japanese as having mystical powers that could not be overcome and, to his great credit and risk taking, the wonderful Triumph brand flies creditably and highly across the world today. A reminder of things that could have been even then smile (I may yet buy a Bloor T100 yet!!) RR


'72 Bonneville
"He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have." - Don Juan Manuel
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: JBMorris] #631865
12/27/15 1:46 am
12/27/15 1:46 am
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Originally Posted By JBMorris
Quote:
we have to congratulate Bloor for what he has done with the new Triumph business.

http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/sites/...g?itok=eZ-2ILNx
not too bad either. . .


Very nice. I could see myself on that. Funny thing is Bloor vowed he'd never do a classic Triumph. just goes to show what consumer demand can do!! smile RR


'72 Bonneville
"He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have." - Don Juan Manuel
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: RetroRod] #631876
12/27/15 2:16 am
12/27/15 2:16 am
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Out There!
Success corrupts.


When people who should have known better cautioned me about the dangers of motorcycle racing, I always told them that a fear of death is nothing more than a fear of life in disguise.
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: Nick] #631887
12/27/15 3:51 am
12/27/15 3:51 am
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The salient point is this, in my opinion, epochs come and epochs go. This is certain,but significant aspects stay in the mind of some. And that is no bad thing in itself. Although progress is inexorable, nostalgia can be a pleasant state of mind!

Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: NickL] #631899
12/27/15 5:33 am
12/27/15 5:33 am
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No, NickL, whatever the cost it is better to win the moral high ground than the perverted, materialistic, idealogicical bullshit one!

Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: NickL] #631910
12/27/15 6:37 am
12/27/15 6:37 am
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Originally Posted By NickL
I always reckoned we should have lost in 1945, maybe we would have had an economy like the Japs and Germans if we did.



I've been told to brush up on my facts about the Marshall Plan, and I think I shall, simply out of interest.

A silly comment somewhere about Britain spending its Marshall money on its "Empire" and thus leaving its industry in the doldrums, suggests a strong anti-Brit sentiment, that no one in the so called "Empire would give an iota of creedance to. smile

I suspect, given the relatively quick economic and operational recovery of the Axis powers (as opposed to the UK), that they (Germany and Japan) got a better deal than did poor old Britain (which, on a per capita basis, paid the heaviest economic price for defeating Hitler and Mussolini).

I digress. It's unquestionably correct that Meriden could not compete with Europe and Japan in the manufacturing race. We only have to look at the machining on our bikes to see this.

Some trivia: The term "knock off work", widely used here in Oz, came from the requirement for factory workers to knock the leather belts from the driving wheels of such driven machinery, something that seemed to still occur at Meriden right up until the bitter end. If so, one can sympathise with the factory trying unsuccessfully to compete with Europe and Japan!!


'72 Bonneville
"He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have." - Don Juan Manuel
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: RetroRod] #631911
12/27/15 6:44 am
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Are you sure Meriden had overhead shafts and belts?

It was built around 1942.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: RetroRod] #631913
12/27/15 6:54 am
12/27/15 6:54 am
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I read somewhere once about an anecdote when the Honda 500 four was introduced (1972-3?) and Meridan purchased, or acquired, one for appraisal. When the service department stripped it down, Doug Hele alledgedly commented. " there's no tooling in this country to do this ", or something to that affect!At least, Meridan couldn't replicate!

Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: RetroRod] #631923
12/27/15 8:22 am
12/27/15 8:22 am
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Originally Posted By RetroRod
Originally Posted By Hillbilly bike
Originally Posted By Tridentman
HB--just to correct a widespread misconception---no Marshall Plan money went to the UK--it went to Germany and Japan.
The UK had to get back on its own two feet--hence the worn out/bombed out machine tools in use.
And the US supplied the UK with war goods on account.
The UK had to pay back the US for all those tanks, aircraft, ships, ammunition etc.
The last repayments on the loans were made in 2010.
HTH


TM, my info says the UK received the largest sum of money from the Marshall plan...here's the link and references... Let me see your info saying the UK received nothing

Money to Western Europe


Americans are quite simply, as are they prone to do, believe that they paid for everything everywhere. Stuff your Wikipedia reference, the UK paid the US back for every nut and bolt the US ever provided. End of story


And who paid or loaned money to the US for the loss of human life and all the war materials to fight the European war? Did you pay for the 100's of US ships carrying supplies to the UK sunk by the Nazi U boats even before the US entered the war? Other than the Soviets, the US lost more material than any combatant, Allied or Axis..
The US thought the UK would fall to the Nazi's and that lead to the development of the B-29 bomber and Nuclear weapons to deal with Germany from 3000 miles away....But you didn't fall and the rest is history, like it or not...
And the US was the largest market for Triumph... "Export or Die"... Yet you are here poking the US with a stick because your gov't mismanaged the Marshall money and your people suffered through even more hard times?


I ride junk
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: triton thrasher] #631929
12/27/15 8:47 am
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Originally Posted By triton thrasher
Are you sure Meriden had overhead shafts and belts?

It was built around 1942.


TT, I'd not bet my mortgaged home on it, but I feel I did read this in some Triumph book of mine. The gist of it was that certain pre-war machinery was still in use (recovered from Coventry?) and so the story went. RR


'72 Bonneville
"He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have." - Don Juan Manuel
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: RetroRod] #631933
12/27/15 9:11 am
12/27/15 9:11 am
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Originally Posted By RetroRod
Originally Posted By triton thrasher
Are you sure Meriden had overhead shafts and belts?

It was built around 1942.


TT, I'd not bet my mortgaged home on it, but I feel I did read this in some Triumph book of mine. The gist of it was that certain pre-war machinery was still in use (recovered from Coventry?) and so the story went. RR


Lots of people still use such machinery, but they drive it with electric motors.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: NickL] #631945
12/27/15 10:14 am
12/27/15 10:14 am
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Originally Posted By NickL
I always reckoned we should have lost in 1945, maybe we would have had an economy like the Japs and Germans if we did.
All those blokes fought so hard so politicians could give it all away over the coming years, what a waste. The really stupid thing is that we declared war to liberate Poland, which no-one ever did!


I have been trying to keep quiet on this one. NO LONGER you are a FOOL if Australia had fallen it would have been Nanking all over again. The Japs would have shown NO F'n MERCY on your people. They were just as bad as what is going on now.

England would not have faired any better.

I, for one, have NEVER had a pity on the fire bombing on Germany or Japan. The Germans started the bombing of civilian targets the Allies perfected it.

K


1970 T120RT
1978 T140V
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: RetroRod] #631948
12/27/15 10:46 am
12/27/15 10:46 am
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It's a pity we don't have some German and Japanese users on britbikes, the discussion would be even more spirited smile.

Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: Adam M.] #631955
12/27/15 11:11 am
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Interesting- the article I quoted came from the Motherland's mouthpiece- the BBC.
Personally I would not use Wiki as a reference because anyone can post to it.
The facts are straightforward.
- GB received the largest amount of the Marshall Plan. they did pay it back
-The Continental European countries used their loans to rebuild their infrastructure and manufacturing, most notably France and Germany.
-GB used most of the money to maintain their empire. Their spending on infrastructure actually declined after the Marshall Plan (see BBC article)
-The US was not entirely altruistic with the plan. Rebuilding Europe meant food and materials were bought from the US and greatly contributed to postwar economy growth
-Some historians propose the Marshall Plan contributed to starting the Cold War.

In the end I have learned a lot about the British motorcycle industry from this and other discussions. I think the governments of postwar Britain were a bunch of wankers. The leaders of the British motorcycle industry were cast from the same mold as the American carmakers of the 70's It wasn't just the British that were humbled by the Japanese.

Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: Adam M.] #631956
12/27/15 11:17 am
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Originally Posted By Adam M.
It's a pity we don't have some German and Japanese users on britbikes, the discussion would be even more spirited smile.


If they're old enough, they can tell Nickl how much fun it was losing the War.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: RetroRod] #631958
12/27/15 11:25 am
12/27/15 11:25 am
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Most of the people that I grew up with did not start out riding one day and start on a 650cc. They started out young, many times on a mini bike. Then they would move up to 50cc. Then it would be a 100cc/125cc. Next it would have been a 185cc/250cc. At this point they were a little older and they were ready for a bigger road bike.
Now here is were H*nda and the Japanese were smart. Because by now these "new" rider had developed something called Brand Loyalty. BSA offered a 250, the B25 or the TR25W. Not a bad bike if you rode it carefully and took care of it. But if all of your buddies had two stokes or Japanese bikes then you as a youngster, you flogged the heck out of it try to keep up. And it would blew up. So while you are saving $$ from your newspaper route to get it fixed, your buddies are still riding and play racing on the back lots. And again it is something called brand loyalty.
BSA and Triumph sold bikes in the 50'and early 60's due to their racing efforts. By the mid 60's interests were shifting to Off Road and they got beat up in this market. BSA finally got it right in 1971 with the 250 OIL. But the 650 OIF was a disaster. I know a couple of triumph riders who bought them new and sold them ASAP, too tall in the saddle. Then came the 750 five speed that would break gears when you got on it hard, like when you where play racing your buddies on their H*nda 750's.
The Japanese would listen to the market and build what it wanted. I remember going to the Cincinati trade show in the 70's and being questioned by a group of Japanese manufactures on what were the trends and likes of the dirt bike riders. They were asking very good questions and writing everything down.
Lack of new tooling, new ideas, poor quality and not producing what the market wants are all signs of a management team that is being run by the bean counters. Sort term returns at the cost of long term vision.
Jeff

Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: Pete Suchawreck] #631959
12/27/15 11:28 am
12/27/15 11:28 am
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The leaders of the British motorcycle industry were cast from the same mold as the American carmakers of the 70's It wasn't just the British that were humbled by the Japanese.

Pinto, Vega, Gremlin v. Datsun 510. Game, set, match

Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: RetroRod] #631963
12/27/15 11:41 am
12/27/15 11:41 am
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Quote:
It's a pity we don't have some German

Yes we have... smile


Ger B

Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: RetroRod] #631965
12/27/15 11:49 am
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...I read all the comments and at some points all are right; however I m with the comment by J Healy; but the problem to continue Triumph from an old engine design to the new ones in the 90s no doubt that never occurred due to those incompetent politics; ceo s etc; not possible to build those new crankcases and have better quality (quality needed for performance, because in my opinion, NEW bikes DO NOT have too much quality outside the engines; in most brands) with the old tooling; as here JeffK is commenting and J Rosamond says in his book (they were struggling to keep that tooling in working order..)
So, Triumph and "Made in England" is a brand but they were not wise enough and came Bloor (a private party) to save the brand.
I really preferred if the old factory still were alive; because the new one seems that only now with these new 5 different Bonnevilles are starting to listen to the public and what the buyer wants (I do not like the 270 degree change in the engine and other factors that may be with the old factory; we could have these new bonnies but keeping the lightness, etc that the Triumph had to offer; may be)

--regarding the Japanese 70s big bikes; yes a Triumph cannot compete, but cannot compete and may be the Japanese too, with some Euro bikes...the other day a buddy here bought a 1976 Guzzi v1000...so far ahead of the Bonnies...and the hondas too.
All types of tech gizmos and powerful; but they never had enough money or race team like Honda et all to hit the world.

-regarding the bomb in Japan and all this war business, the power, the governments NEVER EVER pay for anything; is the normal people that die, suffer in pain; lose everything.
If they really wanted and HATED to the Germans or Japanese, they would dropped the bomb on the Imperial palace in Tokyo and just that...I was in Hiroshima and in an original paper there in the memorial, says all the towns and small cities in which the bomb was intended to drop by (Hiroshima was not one) but NEVER TOKYO were the power was/is.
Check History; no matter if its republics, Empires, Dictators, whatever, always is the same.

Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: Pete Suchawreck] #631966
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Originally Posted By Pete Suchawreck

.......The leaders of the British motorcycle industry were cast from the same mold as the American carmakers of the 70's It wasn't just the British that were humbled by the Japanese.


I must agree with you on that management looked down on the workers AND customers. Workers sabotaged product on the assembly line and failed to take pride in the product built (forgot about the customers). The problems may have come to a head in the '70s but it had been building for many many years. This occurred on both sides of the Pond

I have always held the British Motorcycle Industry in high regard for doing so much with so little during and right after the War.

K


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Re: Bert Hopwood's "Whatever happened to the British.. [Re: KADUTZ] #632025
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Posts: 519
NY
Retro Rod,

There are 3 counterpoints I would like to make to your points. These are meant as discussion points and in no way meant to change your mind. The real reason is to try and flesh out some of the Bias inherent in Bert Hopwood's point of view.

Counterpoint 1: Bert Hopwood was in a position as a senior manager at BSA Group to effect real change. He repeatedly failed to understand his role and pushed an agenda that was simply unrealistic (modular design range) for Triumph Meriden.

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But, also very depressing when you read what a miserable job so many senior managers made of their jobs, particularly at BSA and Associated Motorcycles (AMC) who between them owned/manufactured matchless, Triumph, BSA, AJS, Norton and Ariel at one time or another.


Hopwood became a senior manager in December 1971 when he was appointed to the BSA Board of Directors. He left the company in 1970 and returned to the post that you claim was responsible for the decline of BSA Group and Triumph. As a member of the Board he had enormous influence on the future of BSA and Triumph. Why didn't he pursue a realistic course that would ensure Triumph at least was in the position to continue production into the 1980s? It was estimated that the modular design range would cost 20 million pounds! To pursue this course of action knowing the financial position of Triumph and BSA Group could be considered a dereliction of duty. Or exactly what you claim; poor management. Hopwood was not immune to the disease that he would claim killed the British motorcycle industry.



Counterpoint 2: Bert Hopwood would lay the blame for the failure of the British motorcycle industry at the feet of the trade Union Workers. Hopwood was anti-union and had several opportunities to either mend fences or at least allow the workers to be heard. During his time in senior management he did none of these.

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I think Hopwood's story is one that say's, even with the success they enjoyed, and despite adverse environmental factors, if managers across the board had been better businessmen, it could have continued.

The killer for the UK was from the late '60's perhaps? was the rise in a negative influence of the trade union movement that strangled British industry for a decade until Maggie Thatcher got her revenge. RR


The workers at Meriden knew the score with Hopwood. They knew he was anti-union but felt he would discuss the real problems of Meriden with the workers. There were rumors in the Spring of 1972 that Hopwood would address the workers in a general meeting. According to John Rosamond the workers set about drafting specific questions for Hopwood. The meeting never happened. There was no explanation given for why.

One of Hopwood's first decisions on the board was the closure of Umberslade Hall and the layoff of over 3,200 workers from Small Heath. These decisions, while not only his, cemented his view of the workers and the unions.

In 1973 Hopwood again had the opportunity to bolster the morale of the workers at Meriden by being charged with the final design responsibility for Meriden's products. A motorcycle man finally in charge of the motorcycles that would be produced. He promptly resigned. He was retirement age and who could blame him but it seems every single time the workers viewed him as a reasonable man on the board he let them down.



Counterpoint 3: Umberslade Hall has been blamed for the destruction of BSA Group and the erosion of Triumph's place in the market as a leader in high performance motorcycles. Bert Hopwood contributed to the failure of Umberslade Hall.

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Many of the abominable features of the '70's models can be laid squarely at the feet of inept designers and engineers at Slumberslade Hall

Certainly he had bitter things to say about Slumberslade Hall and, when added to our present store of historical knowledge, rightly so.


Umberslade Hall operated for roughly 3 years and cost BSA Group about $2.1 million per year for a total of $6.3 million over its lifetime. Hopwood refused to relocate his experimental team to Umberslade in late 1968. This action had 2 effects. It immediately cast doubt and suspicion on Umberslade among the workers at Meriden. It also robbed the facility of the talents and expertise of its top engineers (Hopwood and Doug Hele). Instead Hopwwod set up a competing Experimental Department at Meriden. The costs of the Experimental department are unknown but it operated for roughly the same period as Umberslade Hall. It was estimated that the Triples racing program for 1970 alone cost BSA over $10 million.

Triumph's loss of market share for 1971 was not only, if at all, due to the restyled products. Cycle World called the 1971 T120R the best Bonneville yet in one of its first tests. The Trident had the same short fenders and long tail light but it didn't and still doesn't receive the criticism that the 1971 Bonneville does. The Norton Commando has a very similar tail light and it was never called ugly. The delay in product to the U.S. was more responsible for the poor sales than any restyle. If Umberslade had the experience of Hopwood guiding their communication with the factories then maybe the 1971 bikes wouldn't have been poor sellers.

All in all, Bert Hopwood was as responsible for the failure of the British motorcycle industry as any of the other nameless/faceless managers. That doesn't mean that the trade unions, stock holders, and general western industrial climate weren't to blame either.

Scott

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