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JAP and J A Prestwich seem to have been so successful and have had fingers in so many pies that it is difficult for me to write of the JAP involvement in speedway and we need the services of a JAP/Speedway specialist to give us an informed piece about the JAP and its part in the speedway story, but I can’t ignore the JAP so until then I will do my best.

John Alfred Prestwich founded the company that produced the famous competition engines, he started his company, JA Prestwich Industries in 1895 with a view to producing products related to the cinema industry mainly projecting equipment and camera, and it seems that to John A Prestwich engines was a secondary concern, the engines were however successful particularly in the sporting field.

By 1928 the J A Prestwich Industries had many success and one assumes that John Prestwich visited a speedway meeting to assess the possibility of producing engines for this new sport but he was not at all convinced that it was anything more than a nine day wonder. Lucky, perhaps for all concerned,  the Chief Technical Advisor, Stan Greening, thought differently  and a word in the ear of the captain of the Stamford Bridge speedway team, Bill Bragg, who in turn had a word or two in the ear of Vivian, John Prestwich’s eldest son, it was well received by Vivian who must have persuaded his father to give the go ahead to Stan, and so was born the project to build an engine that could out perform   the highly successful Douglas twin.

The first engine was a 350cc, produced it seems from modifying an existing engine; it was not up to the job so back to the drawing board for a few more mods. mainly in an attempt to lighten the engine but again it was not considered competitive so once again time for a rethink.  Whilst this re-thinking was going on Stan Greening heard that a previous employee who still visited J A Prestwich Industries, had just purchased a Rudge to replace his Douglas, this ex-employee was Wal Phillips, speedway rider and engineer.  Stan phoned Wal to ask if he may borrow his new machine, borrowing consisted of stripping the engine down to the last shim, washer and pip squeak – he wanted to understand just why this Rudge engine was so very good, Wal said yes, and the very fruitful partnership began.
 

Having taken the lessons learned from the Rudge  ‘stripdown’  Stan and Wal spent hours in the experimental workshop until they managed to develop  a lightweight engine capable of producing an excellent bhp .  August 1930 saw this 497cc engines first test, mounted in a frame designed by George Wallis and ridden by Wal Phillips on the Stamford Bridge track, Wal won his first two races and broke the lap record during practice (although this record would not be recorded as such)despite this very pleasing start Wal stated that the handling was not as it should have been and withdrew from the rest of the meeting, modifications to the Wallis frame were made but the JAP speedway engine was declared a winner.

Once the Wallis frame was sorted the Wallis/JAP became very successful and the JAP engine was in such high demand the Tottenham factory was tooled up to produce them and the engines success was not confined to Speedway it was winning acclaim elsewhere and getting a name for being fast and very reliable.

Over the years modifications followed, the engine became more efficient, more reliable and more popular right through to 1957 when the company merged with the Villiers Engineering Company. Other engines became available around this time and the popularity of the JAP began to wane.


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