A Brief History of George Brough
George on one of WE Brough’s Machines circa 1902
In 1861 William Edward Brough was born at Basford, Nottinghamshire, and we first hear of him as mechanic in charge of the large steam winding engine at Cinder Hill Colliery belonging to the Babington Colliery Company. At this point electricity was fast becoming of commercial importance in its various applications, so it is not surprising after a few years to find W. E. Brough, a man of no little initiative, foreman electrician to the colliery, a position he held until he left in 1899.
During his tenure of office at Cinderhill, he built 10 Mandalay Street Basford in 1889 and resided there until 1895 when he moved to Vernon Road, still in Basford, and built there a small works with residential quarters attached.The object of the works ?.... Newfangled motor cars and motorcycles were “ coming in ” at this period and W.E. Brough was far sighted enough to see the great possibilities in this direction.
On 18 June 1885 W.E Broughs elder son was born called also William Edward after his father. George was the second son, being born at 10 Mandalay Street on 21 April 1890. From an early age both son’s naturally, one could almost say automatically, became actively involved in motorcycling.
Thus we find William Junior entering his first trial, The A.C.C. end to end in 1906, winning a gold medal , his number being 23. George was number 24, both on Brough’s of course.George finished three days behind the last man and had to apply l.p.a. everywhere except downhill. In 1902 William junior transferred his energies into shipbuilding, but returned to his fathers works in 1921 and remained until 1923, after which he took no further part in the firms activities. Not so George, who we find remaining with his father and testing machines as they were completed.
In the Nottingham road trials in 1911 George rode a vee twin produced in the Vernon road works . The image below shows the general lines of the completed machine, it’s excellent finish and contemporary sidecar replete with decorated wickerwork.
George in the saddle exercising great care as the passenger is his mother.
One of Georges greatest feats during this period was to come first in the London – Edinburgh trial three consecutive years-
In common with every English engineering concern of any standing the Vernon Road works during the first world was most actively engaged in essential production for the Admiralty, petrol priming installations for Rolls Royce aero engines and 13 – pounder A.A. shells.
Naturally such efforts curtailed development and manufacture of motorcycles.
In addition to running the Basford works successfully, W. E. Brough was quick to patent any good idea his fertile mind produced.
Such was the background and atmosphere in which George Brough grew up, most favourable and encouraging for one with ideas of improving the English motorcycle.
At the end of the war George found himself in partnership with his father, a situation he thought most favourable for developing his dreams of producing a luxury motorcycle of large engine capacity, excellently made and finished to appeal to the connoisseur.
His father William was not ready for such a serious venture, whereupon George , undaunted and younger in outlook, was.
George procured from his father his one third share in the Basford business, telling him that he to would make a Brough, superior to the average motorcycle then available.
He immediately bought a small plot of land in Haydn Road Nottingham, and erected a small workshop, office and store.
For a few weeks before settling in at Haydn Road, the first four or five machines were built late in 1919 in a small garage previously built by his father.
As the new premises were ready, his fathers garage was vacated and Brough Superiors began to emerge to lucky customers whilst Brufsup, Nottingham became a new telegraphic interest via Imperial Cables to be memorized like the postal address Haydn Road, by countless big twin fans.
Proper production commenced in this new home early in 1920.
One of the first SS100's to be produced.