HJH Motorcycles.

Made In Wales.

 

 

 

  1954 -1956

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This is the story about a little known motorcycle brand that should have been a bigger part of motorcycle history, if the finances had have been in place to fulfil the 1000 orders received after just one show.

HJ 'Hussy" Hulsman was the force behind the project, setting it up with £1000, borrowed from friends in Wales, in 1954.

I will let the guys that were there tell the story below, before I go any further.

 

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From 1956 Sales Catalogue...

 

 

A Fine example of a very rare 1954 HJH 197cc 8E Villers engined trials model...the ex John Victor machine...

 

Firstly thanks to Jim Switzer for putting me onto the story, and Howell Evans, for giving me the permision to use the material from the Bridgend and District British Motorcycle Club.

 

HJ.Hulsman Industries . Canalside works, Canal Road, Neath . Glamorgan.

 

Harry Hulsman started his motorcycle manufacturing business with £1000 capital borrowed from friends. The business produced trials, scrambles, and roadster machines, powered by Villiers 7E, 8E or 9E engines. Although the motorcycles were assembled in Neath, South Wales, most parts were sourced outside Wales. The Villiers engines were produced in Wolverhampton, and the frames were also produced in Wolverhampton, by DMW.

The workforce included Harry, Tom Wheeler. (Production manager and works rider), Hywel Rogers, (Mechanic) and Henry's wife, who kept the books.

 

    From left to right - Tom Wheeler, John Victor and Hywel Rogers

 

 

HJH was one of many small motorcycle manufacturers set up after the war.

Such businesses would hardly survive today, but at the time, there was a market for small lightweight machines, and HJH motorcycles did have some attractive features that made them desirable, compared to the opposition.

The cadmium coated frame, polished engine cases, and chromium plated guards, together with Polychromatic paint on the roadster models, gave the name some cudos.

Harry was a dynamic character and quite a salesman.

Tom Wheeler was a respected trials and scrambles rider, and Harry enticed him into the business with an offer to double his pay, from £6 per week, to £12 per week, together with the use of a works bike and spares.

 

   This 1954 197cc rigid trials HJH below belongs to John Victor

 

 

 

In November 1955 Harry took various machines to the Earls Court Cycle and Motorcycle Show, and gained orders for 1000 machines, worth over £100,000.

An extensive programme for a small company, and unfortunately, a lack of capital, shortage of supplies, a railway strike, and the lack of suitably skilled labour, all combined to bring production to a halt in 1956.

The Motor Cycle Magazine show guide of November 1955 ran the following description of the HJH stand at Earls Court.

 

 

"Seats upholstered in real hide on luxury roadster models! A number of trials and scrambles machines will be on view at the stand. Both have electric welded tubular steel frames which, to resist the rigours of exposure to mud and water, are dull cadmium plated all over. In addition to the competition mounts there will be on show four Villiers powered roadsters comprising the 147cc Dragonet, 197cc Dragonet Sports, and Super Sports models, and a 197cc deluxe version of the Dragon Super Sports, which has a nacelle-enclosed headlamp".

 

During the three years that HJH Industries was operational they produced 450 machines,

producing 5-6 machines per week by working very long hours.

The works produced various models including, The Dragon which was a 197cc roadster at £80 + purchase tax of £19 4s, and a Trials model at £117 + purchase tax of £28-1s-8p.

Tom together with other riders met with considerable success on the trials and scrambles circuit riding an HJH.

 

    Rob Griffiths below with his 1956 Villiers 9E powered HJH.

 

 

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The business failed in 1956, when Henry ran into trouble for underpaid purchase tax totalling £4,452.

The court found him guilty of the offence, and he was fined £175, or could serve 6 months inside. A friend paid the fine.

A few HJH machines still survive. Six were exported to Australia. Some are still ridden in competition today.

 

Acknowledgements

This item could not have been written without the help of John Victor who has given access to his excellent archive of materials relating to HJH. The talk given to the club by John Victor and Tom Wheeler on 9th February 2010 gave much background information.

Thanks to Rob Griffiths for the photograph of his HJH motorcycle.

 

 

Tom Wheeler

Tom Wheeler is an honorary member of our club. Many will be unfamiliar with the name but in his hay day Tom was a force to be reckoned with. His talents lay in scrambling and trials riding. The note that follows was written by Tom who is now in his 85th year. Enjoy. 

In 1947 I first rode a friend's 350cc SV Triumph with girder forks and hand change, afterwards you could keep your cars. The bug had bitten. I saved and bought an ex-army Matchless G3L from Pride and Clarke in Stockwell for £99 a heap of money in those days but it was the only bike available with telescopic forks. I rode it in trials and scrambles using the same tyres for both events, removing the silencer when scrambling. I kept sliding off because of lack of grip so I decided to get a knobbly for the rear. 





I was offered a managerial position in the motorcycle business, left my secure job as a locomotive fireman on the GWR and the move enabled me to get my hands on a proper bike, a BSA B32 trials machine. That bike helped me to become the East South Wales Trials Champion. My first love was scrambling though so I obtained a scrapped BSA 500 B33; fitted a McCandless swing arm, upgraded and tuned the engine and by 1953 gained the Welsh Scrambles Championship. 

 

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By this time motorcycles were becoming more available and the competition more fierce. I had to upgrade to a 500S Ariel and it really was a machine. Fast and good looking but not that reliable. I had works support but kept losing races with gearbox troubles or valves dropping. Despite these problems I was Welsh Champion again in 1954. For 1955 I chose a BSA DB500 Goldstar for it's handling and reliability but half way through the season I had an offer from Hussy Hulsman, of HJH Industries of Neath, to work and ride his motorcycles in trials and scrambles. His offer included double the salary I was presently getting. This was an offer I couldn't refuse. As competitions manager I had a free hand to choose the team of riders and Don Price, Gwyn Chambers and Roddy Rees joined me for the season. 1955...

Photo Courtesy Roddy Rees...

Roddy Rees steps off the back of his bucking HJH scrambles bike at a Saunderfoot, Wales, scramble 1955...

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I continued to ride in trials and scrambles but the 197cc Villiers engine struggled to keep up with the bigger scrambles bikes...

 

 

 

Due to a lack of financial backing and despite a full order book after a successful Earl's Court Show HJH closed its works in 1956. I continued riding BSA's, Norton's, James and Kieft's in both trials and scrambles with varying degrees of success until 1960. 

 

Tom Wheeler with some of his Trouphies...
I have many fond memories of my riding days but if I had to pick a few favourites they would be the dual with David Tye, who was a works BSA rider, at Flemingstone in 1953 - Leading Jeff Smith, who was world champion at the time, for seven out of ten laps in the 1953 Cardigan Grand National - Racing at Coldra Farm, Newport with Tommy Barker and Cyril Hawkins.


Here is a fine shot of  the John Victor HJH Trials bike. taken by Martin Squires of Sketchbook Travel.
 
 
 
Thanks for the use of the photo Martin Courtesy to you.
 
Martin does some fine sketches of motorcycles if you are interested the link to his site is below.
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Jim Switzer has just sent me these photos from the  Bob Dunwoody collection.
 
 
 
R.A. (Drew)Dunwoody 197 cc H J H  enjoying his ride on the little Welsh scrambles machine...
 
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Courtesy the Dunwoody Collection
Drew Dunwoody again on his HJH scrambles 197 Villiers 9E engined  machine, this at the Bradshaw Brae meeting in N Ireland, year 1957...
 
Courtesy The Dunwoody Collection...
Tommy Robb riding a Villiers 8E engined  HJH scrambles bike at a
N Ireland grass track meeting in 1956...
Note: the leathers, Tommy's first road race win was riding a HJH machine...
Tommy won several grass track titles
 and a 25-mile sand race between 1954 and 1956, before turning to short circuits on tarmac and road-racing. His first road race was at Lurgan Park, outside of Belfast, in 1957 riding a 197 HJH. He was noticed by Belfast sponsor Terry Hill, himself a trials rider, who provided a 173  MV and 250 NSU for him to ride...
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Davy Andrews...
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This is Davy Andrews 197 "HJH", in the Sandown Cup trial in Northern Ireland.
Davy was an agent for HJH Motorcycles in Belfast at the time.1954...
 
 
It is such a shame that, HJH Motorcycles had to close for a stupid tax evasion issue, that would I am sure have been put right, if they had been allowed to turn out the 1000 bikes they had on order.
What were the goverment thinking...Red Tape one feels...
 
I can tell you running a small company is not easy, at any time. You have the ideas, that could be a winner, but no one want's to back then, at the time, or even later, Until it is to late, such a shame...
 
 

More later.

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Left on both versions of photo for you... 

 

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D.G. Andrews edit edition....

 

 

More later, if we find more information...

 

More shots of the John Victor Trials HJH...

 

 

What a superb example of a 1954 rigid trials HJH...

 

 

Simple rear end of the DMW built HJH frames...

 

 

And the Earles designed and patented forks that were made by Metal Profile, parent company of DMW, these set the trend later on many Villiers engined trials bikes that went on to use leading link forks...

Like Norman, CoTTon, DMW, D.O.T. and Greeves...

 

 

Every part of this little bike is as it would have left the factory workshop... exept the fuel tap that has to be changed...

 

 

If HJH had servived, and been allowed to finish their large order, these little bikes would have won many a National trial, mark my words... What a shame... 

 

 

The little Villiers 8E engine was also a good simple little "work horse" and well suited to a trials bike...of the time...

 

 

HJH proud to have been built in Wales...

 

Courtesy Google Maps...

 

Canal Road, Neath,Glamorgan, Wales...

Could this have been where the HJH motorcycles were built in 1954?...

24/02/2022...

Just arrived from the National Motorcycle Museum is the 1956 sales catalogue that I had ordered for the HJH  motorcycle range...

Along with a Maintenance and Instruction Manual...

 These are the only reference to the HJH range of motorcycles  that they have...

 

This is the 1956 Dragon Model fitted with the Villiers 8E engine and three speed box... it is obvious that the 1954 Trials model used the same frame but had the Earles forks fitted...

 

 

By 1956 HJH had moved to a swinging arm frame for the Trials Model and this frame is not specific to that model and looks like it was used on the rest of the swinging arm range and the rigid trials bike had been dropped... it is unknown how many trials bikes were produced out of the Four Hundred and Fifty total machines built in the two year period...

DO You? I can only find the One - Two on this page...

Note: In the specification list it is stated that the tyre sizes for the trials model was 275 x 21" front tyre size and 400 x 19 rear, although on this sketch it looks more like a 400 x18 ?

 

 

More Later...

Updat2021...