Author Topic: Early Douglas & Fairy models  (Read 4468 times)

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Offline Dirt Track

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Early Douglas & Fairy models
« on: 06 Apr 2007 at 02:59 »
G'day all
I was asked to do some research on another make and whilst looking through some old magazines came across a couple of adverts for both Douglas Bros and The Fairy Motor Co in the same mag dated Nov 20th 1907.
Interesting that both companies were running ads at the same time....I wonder when Douglas Bros actually took over The Fairy Motor Co?
The Fairy pictured is quite a large 6HP machine and not what we all think of as a "Fairy"!
Douglas Bros are advertising their "New Four Cylinder 6HP with 2 Speed Gear"....would'nt mind one of them in the garage......the engine still survives in a twin frame nowadays.
See photos.....any comments?
Howard.



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« Last Edit: 06 Apr 2007 at 04:21 by alwyn »

Offline graeme

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Re: Early Douglas & Fairy models
« Reply #1 on: 07 Apr 2007 at 04:53 »
I wonder if any of those larger model Fairy's sold Howard - certainly I've never heard any evidence of any surviving. Likewise Douglas never made anything near that size for some years afterwards - not until the tie-up with Williamson, as far as I am aware. The wheelbase of the Fairy looks to be pretty long judging by the length of those handlebars!
Graeme

Offline eddie

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Re: Early Douglas & Fairy models
« Reply #2 on: 08 Apr 2007 at 06:16 »
Was this machine anything to do with the 'Fairy' that developed into the Douglas? Joseph Barter- trading as Light Motors Ltd- produced a model called the 'Fairy', whereas this is a 6HP model produced by a company called 'The Fairy Motor Co.' from Blackheath in London. By 1907, Barter was working at the Douglas factory- so, maybe, the trading name 'Fairy' had been sold or relinquished by Barter. The only things obviously common to both machines are that they are both flat twins and the tank transfer looks very similar to the Light Motors logo. Does anyone have any more info?

Offline MichielH

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Re: Early Douglas & Fairy models
« Reply #3 on: 11 Apr 2007 at 13:45 »
The Fairy Motor Company was still active in 1908 and was (also?) marketing a 2 3/4 hp twin looking very much like the original Fairy range (see advert below). The machine sported magneto ignition and had the same type recessed fueltank we know from the 1908-1911 Douglas models.

The traditional story is that Joseph Barter went banktrupt in early 1907 en merged with Douglas to produce the first prototype of the Douglas twin later that year. It seems more and more plausible that his own company was sold of, probably including stock, patents and drawings and formed the basis for the Fairy Motor Company of Blackheath, London.

the renewed website of the LDMCC shows an original picture of a Fairy-motorcycle (http://www.douglasmotorcycles.co.uk/ , see slideshow)  dated 1909. At this moment I don't know if that means that the picture was taken in 1909 or that it is supposed to be a 1909 model...
Fact is that this machine is very similar to the one in the advert, but not identical. my guess is that it is a 1907 model, and the picture was taken in 1909.

It is remarkable that the 1908 Fairy with its magneto ignition looks more modern than the Douglas (with battery ignition) right above it.  On the other hand is the picture of the Douglas the same they used during 1907 and they did introduce an updated model A with magneto in 1908. (they do mention a Bosch HT magneto, but its not in the pic)

I still do not understand  :? why Joseph Barter, after building Fairy's with  HT magneto, would revert back to the more primitive battery/coil for his early Douglas' designs. And that leads me to the conclusion that the Fairy Motor Company did more than just sell off some old stock: they were building brand new motorcycles based on a proven design! 

Michiel



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« Last Edit: 11 Apr 2007 at 21:43 by alwyn »

Offline cardan

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Re: Early Douglas & Fairy models
« Reply #4 on: 10 May 2017 at 01:26 »
Sorry to take ten years to reply to this thread, but after a bit of poking around I think we now have answers to most of the questions posted here. See http://www.douglasmotorcycles.net/index.php?topic=6560.0;all

Thanks to Howard for kicking the topic off with the important observation that both Fairy and Douglas were advertising at the end of 1907. He wonders "... when Douglas Bros actually took over The Fairy Motor Co?". The answer is NEVER, the Fairy Motor Co. seems to have died a quiet death, motor-cycle-production-wise, in the latter half of 1908, more than 18 months after Barter left Fairy to go to Douglas, where he designed and brought to production a new flat-twin motorcycle - The Model A Douglas. There are many, many books and articles that tell the story of Douglas taking over the remains of the Light Motors Ltd - the story is incorrect.

Graeme asks whether any of the large Fairys sold. The answer is "yes". It's not clear how many were made between when they were first mentioned in the period literature (at the formation of the first Light Motors Ltd. in December 1905) and mid 1908, but there are photos of three different bikes, mention of one seen at a hill climb in the UK, one privately for sale in the classifieds of the Motor Cycle in 1910, and even one reported at an event in Sydney in May 1910 in the hands of V. St. Clair. So while Clew says "it is alleged that only one was made", I'd say there were definitely four, and there might have been as many as 10-20?

Eddie makes a very good point: "By 1907, Barter was working at the Douglas factory - so, maybe, the trading name 'Fairy' had been sold or relinquished by Barter." Yes it had. Doug has the documents to show that the original Light Motors Ltd. was sold and a new entity with the same name, but a London address (180 Grays Inn Road), was incorporated on January 4th, 1907. Barter also refers to the sale of Light "to London interests" in a 1930s memoir in a Bristol newspaper.

Eddie also asks: "Was this machine anything to do with the 'Fairy' that developed into the Douglas?" Yes, and no. Barter's 1905 Fee developed into the 1906 Fairy, which developed into the 1907 model Fairy, and then into the 1908 model Fairy. I don't think we can prove it, but it's likely that Barter left Fairy at the time of the sale of Light to the London interests in January 1907, so while the Fairy developed beyond this date it was without Barter. Presumably Barter spent 1907 at Douglas developing a new motorcycle, the Model A, which debuted at the Stanley Show (with the fabulous V Four) in November 1907.

Last, it is Michiel who gets the prize for recognising that the tradition story "... that Joseph Barter went bankrupt in early 1907 and merged with Douglas to produce the first prototype of the Douglas twin later that year ..." is incorrect. He goes on: "It seems more and more plausible that his own company was sold off, probably including stock, patents and drawings and formed the basis for the Fairy Motor Company of Blackheath, London." Almost perfect Michiel! There was another company "Light Motors Ltd., London" in between, but the general idea is correct, and we now have enough information to confirm this version of the story.

We can help Michiel with his concern about magnetos, because the post-Barter Fairy sold during 1907 used coil ignition, so a coil ignition prototype Model A would have matched the Fairy spec. Both Douglas and Fairy motorcycles at the Stanley Show in November 1907 had "new" magnetos; clearly the Bosch magneto salesman had been knocking on doors in Bristol and London during the year.

Michiel concludes: "And that leads me to the conclusion that the Fairy Motor Company did more than just sell off some old stock: they were building brand new motorcycles based on a proven design!" Yes, they were!

(Can we post replies about Fairys on the other thread, so we don't have two active Fairy threads at the same time?)

Cheers

Leon


 

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