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In 1908 George C Hands established Calthorpe in Birmingham. To begin with the machines were fitted with engines made by others. In May 1928 a “Calthorpe Machine” was raced at the 3rd Greenford meeting, ridden by Ben Bickness and it proved itself more than capable of matching other more established equipment and allowed Ben Bickness to win the Perivale Trophy race.

Tony Webb writes in his A to Z of Speedway book - “A new speedway special, a 348cc, was displayed at the 1928 Olympia Motorcycle Show. The nickel plated short wheel base frame featured twin top tubes that ran either side of the wedge shaped fuel tank. The engine which gave out 20 bhp at 6.500 rpm hat a BTH magneto and an Amal carb. The overhead valve gear ran on roller bearings as did the main shafts. The forks were at a lower angle than other models. Wheels were 28 inch. Later the JAP motor was fitted.”

Production of the Cathorpes was continued until 1938, a long time for a sports bike at that period and its demise may well have more to do with the threatening clouds of World War II than lack of interest in the equipment.


Hertfordshire was the area chosen by William Chater Lea to found his company Chater-Lea in 1890, they originally produced bicycle frames adding motorcycles as the demand for these increased. As with many other frame makers they stuck to what they knew best, the frame, and bought in engines to fit to their frames.

When they added a speedway frame to their production, Dougal Marchant, chief engineer, initially used the Blackburne 350cc ohv engine. The Charter-Lea Speedway Machine was distinctive in the detail,a very long fuel tank, cone shaped, stylish and avoiding sharp edges, forks were braced at the rear and the mounting of the handlebars (rear of the fork yoke) was also different, the whole machine finished in copper plate, it must have stood out when it took its place at the 1928 Motor Cycle Show at Olympia where it was one of 17 speedway machines exhibited. They looked at the JAP engine as it appear to be the speedway engine of choice and found it fitter into their frame, so the JAP became the engine supplied with the Charter-Lea machine and remained so until the cessation of frame production in 1935

Chipchase JAP

Harry Oddy Chipchase made a number of grass track and speedway machines. Born in Co. Durham he was a keen and successful grass track rider before he moved south in the 1930s to work with Victor Martin on the engines used by the riders in the North London area. He designed a speedway frame called, it is thought, the Martin/Chipchase Bike, one assumes, it was fitted with either one the Chipchase built engines or a Chipchase tuned JAP.  

Chum Taylor Frames

Chum Taylor from West Australia made frames both for his own use and that of other riders in a period between 1952 and 1970. He was instrumental in the development of the ESO seeking out and sorting out problems with the cam and calibration.

Clarke Frames

Phil Clarke, of the Norwich Stars speedway team from 1947 till he retired in 1959 having becoming their captain in 1951. He never rode for any other team but was keenly interested in the building of speedway frames and the tuning of bikes a few of his design were manufactured but he also made frames under contract  for Rotrax. Amongst those who  used the Clarke Frame, apart that is from Phil, was WSRA member Billy Bales and World Champion Peter Craven. Phil Clarke died in 2010.


Noel Clark of Kidderminster made grass track frames in  from 1960 and today has his own museum.

Cole GHC

Howard Cole, a Midlands based engineer who had great interest in the “ins and outs” of the speedway engine - the ins of dirt and the outs of oil. He worked hard on these problems for many years and produced his first engine in 1966 called Cole/JAP - all parts were interchangeable with the JAP but the Cole engine had valve gear fully enclosed, a choice of 3 cams and the con rods of stronger design.

He was devoted to the JAP engine and spent his life trying to amend his engine (compatible with the JAP) to embrace any true improvements he saw in other engines such as the fully enclosed ESO so he produced a JAP compatible engine with a fully enclosing case. He worked long and hard until he became a victim of ill health in his later years and a serious car accident bringing his life time interest in speedway engines to an end, he died in 1980

Howard Cole also produced a junior frame for his son, Howard junior, who not unsurprisingly became a speedway rider racing in the league for Stoke Potters, Wolverhampton Wolves, Cradley Heath Heathens and Kings Lynn Stars.

Cromerford Wallis

Click here for Cromerford Wallis

Comet Frame

The Comet Flexi Flyer frame appeared in 1978 built by Gordon May and given the same name, so I am told, as the first steerable sled from the 1880's although I do not know if Gordon was aware of this or if it were a happy accident.

Gordon May was well known for producing grass track frames so the fact that he turned to speedway and built the CFF is not so surprising but what was is the rapid success it achieved. The innovative design included twin top tubes that were adjustable to allow the rider to set the amount of flexibility the track and his skill required. Taken up by most of the Halifax Dukes team including Kenny Carter it really did seem an overnight success and it was not long before inferior copies became available no doubt disappointing many a rider who may have though they had a bargain.

Click here for more information and photos about Gordon May and his engineering work

Coppull Maxi 1947

The Coppull Maxi 1947 story begins as you may expect in 1947, Max Grosskreutz returned to the UK to take up his place at Bradford Odsal track bringing with him a blueprint for a frame he started working on before the start of World War II, Oliver Hart had given a job in his Coppull workshop to a former POW called Kurt Kanz an excellent welder so when the three got together with the blue print all that was missing were suitable materials.

A local scrap yard managed to fulfil the material deficit and work started to build a lightweight frame suitable for Oliver Hart’s leg trailing style. The frame apart from being light needed strength and was built from two diamond shapes, the first forming the rear part of the frame with the welded joint under where the seat would be and the other forming the top tube supporting the steering assembly which would need to be adjusted to Olivers riding style and the lower edge of this diamond sharing the engine support with the other.

The popularity was such that the Coppull could no longer cope with the productions and it was moved to Eric and Oliver Langton workshops and the Coppull name was dropped

Coventry Victor

The Motor Cycle Show at Olympia in 1928 had on display no fewer than 17 Speedway machines and this was one of them. The Manufactures started in business as Morton & Weaver in 1904, they made aero engines, the name changed in 1911 to Coventry Victor and by 1919 were producing motorcycles. At some point they must have moved into sport bikes because by 1928 they were exhibiting the speedway machine. 1926 saw them move into small car production and in recent years small marine engines the firm is still in active and now known as A N Weaver.

In 1928 Les Blakeborough raced the Cotton Blackburne, it was a speedway adaptation of the TT Road Racing bike. Never becoming that popular with the speedway riders it sold enough to be continued in production until 1934. Going through a few modifications the engine being changed from Blackburn to JAP but it retained the frame designed by Francis Willoughby Cotton, a heavy triangulated design.

Cranmore BSA

There is talk of this being produced post World War II as a grass track frame but I understand there were published photographs of this machine in a September 1929 copy of “Motor Cycling” describing it as a dirt track machine, so I don’t really know anything except that it said to have existed  - do you? Let me know contact here.


Southampton Saints team manager in the 1950s, Bert Croucher, built a number of grass track and speedway ‘specials’ at his Park Motors garage. Bert Croucher also rode for Oxford Cheetahs and the Southampton Saints before taking up the job of team manager.

Crocker Indian/Rudge

Al Crocker (USA) was employed by the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company in Los Angeles and whilst working for them he designed and built single-cylinder dirt-track and shot-track speedway bikes. There were only 31 built in total and only 12 are still believed to remain.

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