Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,477 pages of information and 233,897 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Swift Cycle Co

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1900. Motor Tricycle.
April 1936.

of Court Road, Balsall Heath, Coventry

Company names -

1896. Prospectus issued for the launch of a new company Swift Cycle Co to take over the Coventry Machinists Co. Directors: Randolph Churchill (Chairman), Major Walter H. Seagreave, Charles Wisdom Hely, M.P., Harvey Du Cros, (Junior), Alfred Du Cros (of the Coventry Machinists Co) and Richard Lee Philpot (MD of Coventry Machinists Co). W. Radford was works manager[1]. The company was one of those promoted by E. T. Hooley[2].

1896/7 Directory: Listed under cycles. More details [3]

1898 produced their first motor cycle and a motor tricycle.

1900 Prototype car

1901 Catalogue issued for cycles [4]

1901 Start of car production; it had a tubular chassis, a single cylinder de Dion engine and a two-speed back axle.

1901 The company was registered on 10 December, in reconstruction of a company of the same name, to take over the business of the Coventry Machinists Co. [5]

1902 Formation of The Swift Motor Co. This produced one, two, three and four-cylinder cars, first using proprietary engines up to about 1907 and then those designed by their Works Engineer, William Radford, which were made in their own factory.

During the early 1900's Swift entered their cars in reliability trials and won many gold medals. Up to 1915 several models were produced each year (See Swift Models 1901-31).

In 1904, a single cylinder 700cc cycle-car was produced by a separate company the Swift Cycle Co. This car was also sold by Austin as the first Austin 7.

1912 Listed in Spennell's directory of Coventry as Cycle Manufacturers. [6]

1913 Issued additional £20,000 of shares. [7]

From 1915 to 1931 they concentrated on cars.

1931 See Kirk and Merifield who bought the name

No. 53. (No image) Swift tandem. Made by The Swift Cycle Co Ltd, Coventry, about 1895. Weight 47.5 lbs. Presented by R. M. Wright, Lincoln.

Note the long steering head, and strengthening tube from top head lug to front bracket. Originally fitted with 30 inch front wheel. This model was very popular among racing cyclists and club men during the regime of the late R. L. Philpot as managing director of the Swift Co.; among other famous pairs it was ridden by A. E. Walters and A. A. Chase, C. F. Barden and E. E. Parlby, and F. R. Goodwin and S. J Prevost. [8]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times of Monday, Oct 26, 1896
  2. The affairs of Mr E T Hooley - The Times, 25 July 1898
  3. Peck's Trades Directory of Birmingham, 1896-97: Cycles
  4. Fielden’s Magazine Vol 4
  5. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  6. Spennell's Annual Directory of Coventry and District, 1912-13
  7. The Times, Thursday, Nov 27, 1913
  8. Bartleet's Bicycle Book
  • A brief history of Swift vehicles [1]