1931-33 New Hudson motorcycles Models 3 and 33 (and a genuine Bronzewing)                                                                          December 2016

1932 New Hudson 500 ohv model 3

I've got 6 New Hudson projects currently, but this page only covers 4 of them. It all started quite innocently..............

I used to be in the National Health Service, and there was a training facility for engineers and estates employees near Bristol. I went down to a course in the mid 80s, and met a guy from Yeovil. He had a project he was looking to sell/swop/whatever, and I knew nothing at all about New Hudsons of this period. However, it looked and sounded interesting, so a pile of bits came home with me in the back of the car.

One became three                                          February 2017

1932 Model 3 500cc ohv

All New Hudsons between 1931 and '33 looked like this. With 2 frame sizes, and 5 different engines, knitting parts together is a nightmare. The project above came with every frame piece except the right hand side bottom stay, however the 2 down tubes were for a different frame size. I had to buy a 350 ohv engine, which came with 2 frame tubes, to make it work. I then made the missing bottom stay.

With both 7" and 8" brakes, that fit into 2 differing width forks, the front brake hub/drum seen above was the wrong size.

My piles of surplus parts were growing, and were beginning to look like projects in their own right!

A 350 model 33 - sympathetic rebuild        February 2017

Part finished 1931 model 33 circa 2005/6

Part finished 1931 350 ohv. Saddle away for recovering, Mudguards being painted with non gloss paint, to match the aged original paintwork. Petrol tank is still sporting original chrome and NH transfer. A bit of touching up to both black roundal and gold lettering of transfer. For some reason, you see a few restored bikes with the letters sloping backwards. These are original 1930s, and prove forwards slope (like the engine). Petrol tank still in need of rust conversion, and a polish.

New toolbox replicated from original (all my own work). A batch of 18 silencers were commissioned and made. All surplus silencers supplied to owners also on the restoration trail.

Finished and on the road!                             February 2017

On the road, my first 1930s experience circa 2006.

Same bike finished and in use. The one compromise on this bike is the engine covers, which are copies in glass fibre resin. A quick solution for this bike, but later bikes will have steel covers, as I have an original set to work from. The Achilles Heel of these bikes is the gearbox. Up to 1930 New Hudson made their own gearboxes, but for 1931 they were bought in (must have been a cost cutting exercise). Despite the 4 speed hand change Moss box being rubbish, a fairly poor 4 speed hand change Burman wasn't much better. The Moss suffered from selectors that distorted(I've been baulked on the uphill approach to a roundabout myself with only 3rd gear available), and the Burman appears to have suffered from bad machining. I have one mainshaft with 5 identical sized splines, and 1 much bigger! Needless to say, the shaft is bent from a seizure at some point.

The photo of me on the intro page was taken at 1000 Bikes Festival at Mallory Park in 2006.


The Bronzewing                                                  March 2017

1932 500cc Bronzewing

For the 1932 season, the Bronzewing entered the catalogue (available as 500 and 350). I should have a better picture somewhere (this is a scan of a photocopy - I have the original flyer somewhere). I will change this when it comes to light. Sporty specification with more ground clearance, hot cam, polished ports, flywheels and rod, hi comp piston and hi level exhaust.

Paint finish to petrol tank is stated as "Golden", so wouldn't that make it a Gold Wing? New Hudson were never well off, so probably thought too ostentacious!

I found out about a genuine Bronzewing down in Exeter/Plymouth area about 15 years back, told the guy if he was ever interested in selling......about 5 years later it came up north.

There are only 3 or 4 genuine BWs known worldwide.

Mine is a real basket case, but a lot of originality included, with correct 20" rear and 21" front wheels, the hot cam and engine polishing, hi level pipes (but incorrect silencers). Like most of the NH survivors, it is missing a Burman gearbox (but I've collected 6 over the years).

Interesting feature to each mudguard - nailcatcher! I don't have the originals, but did (some time back) pick up a period nailcatcher accessory (looks like an instrument of torture).

More about vintage and veteran motorcycles to come.

More Banbury finds                                              June 2017

1931-33 transfer stock - original and modern reprints (available from VMCC and elsewhere)

My stock of original New Hudson transfers increased at Banbury, when I found 3 petrol tank transfers. You can always tell the original type, as they show in reverse. The modern waterslide type read as you would see them on the bike. The photo shows the 3 Banbury transfers to the far right, with another earlier find to top centre. Below that and to the left are 8 multipurpose transfers that were on the rear mudguard, top of petrol tank, and engine covers. A modern waterslide type is seen to bottom centre (it's debateable whether the bottom bit was ever part of any original transfer). The last (bottom left) is a modern waterslide version of the transfer attached to the toolbox. This was recreated by the late Bob Derrick from an original still existing (barely readable) on a toolbox I found.

Just around the corner                                        Aug 2017

Local 550 side valve

New Hudsons are pretty rare beasts at the best of times, and you just don't expect to see one parked on view within a mile of home! I've been into NHs for 30+ years, and didn't know of any in Yorkshire other than a 1912 sidecar outfit, and a guy into the late 20s Bert le Vack inspired range I only ever met a odd time around the time I was becoming an addict.

Anyway, I'm on my way home from a job, cut down the local rat-run to miss the town centre traffic, and there it is, a 1931/2 550sv! A quick double take in passing confirmed I wasn't delirious, so I parked the car and went back for a chat. It turns out I knew of it in the Berkshire area, but the former owner had a very smart sidecar attached, which hasn't made it up/over to Yorkshire.

Had a pleasant chat with Tom, the new owner who is still getting familiar with the old girl. We exchanged emails/phone numbers, and I offered help if he felt he needed any. Nice to see it still had it's original mudguards and engine enclosures after 80 odd years.

A mediocre day turned into a good day!

The only downside occurred to me as I drove on - I've got 6, he's got 1, and he's still got more on the road than me!!!!


1980's TV star                                                      Aug 2017

One of the stars of "All Creatures Great and Small"

Writing the last entry reminded me of the BBC TV series back in the late '70s and early '80s All Creatures Great and Small. It was based on a practice of veterinary surgeons operating in rural North Yorkshire in the 1950s. Series 4 included the arrival of a new vet called Callum (Scottish). If my memory serves me correctly, his first appearance on the screen was on a motorbike and sidecar, coming towards the camera.

Just checked, and whilst Callum first appeared in edisode 1 of series 4, the New Hudson first appears half way through episode 2 "Barks and Bites". You'll find it on YouTube. I think the bike appears later on, but I'm not rewatching the whole of series 4 to find out!

At the time, I turned to my wife and said "that's a 1930s New Hudson, I'd recognise the sweep of the exhaust pipes anywhere". I think the return comment contained some reference to being "sad" (and maybe justified). Much later, I found out that the machine was a 1931 rolling chassis, with a 1932 493cc engine and a Rudge gearbox. The bike belonged to Alec, and I believe it went to auction 3-5 years back.

Postscript: In the series, the New Hudson was later usurped by a BSA M20 or M21.

1930's Biker babes!                                            Sept 2017

Did New Hudson invent the cherry picker? (it's actually mistletoe they are gathering - not cherries)

Nothing salacious here I'm afraid, but a catchy headline nonetheless.

In 1931 New Hudson ran a series of adverts/editorial features using girls out of their own offices as models. The grandson of one of the ladies was given a folder after his grandmother had passed away, that contained the following images. She had kept them her whole life, maybe cherishing her 15 minutes of fame, or maybe hanging on to memories of the unusual couple of days away from the office on full pay.

This one is a couple of office girls gathering mistletoe using the New Hudson as a scaffold tower.


I've just re-watched the you tube video of the "old crocks" from 1931, and realised the female pilot of the new New Hudson right at the end is one of these girls.

Another publicity item                                        Sept 2017

Advert in The Sunday People newspaper

Is this the genuine article, or a bit of primitive photoshopping? Same 2 girls being accosted by a man of the hills. I wouldn't fancy the New Hudson's chances on climbing that hillside.

I've got a few more period photos/publicity that I'll put up shortly. I hope you find them interesting, I think they all tell a story of times long gone.

The everyman's (and woman's) motorcycle     Oct 2017

Something for the weekend sir?

This range of bikes was very much targetted at the non motorcyclist, or at least those who wouldn't consider a motorcycle for one reason or another.

The panels around the bottom half of the engine and gearbox were supposed to keep the oil and grease away from the rider, and the valves were totally enclosed (not all were at this time). A special saddle was available as an option, with a double top. You unclipped the uppermost cover from the back, folded it forwards, sat down and laid it back over the family jewels. It was supposed to be an attempt at weatherproofing!

I remember picking something New Hudson up at an autojumble years back, and telling the seller how pleased I was to have found whatever it was. He then told me he'd just sold a double top saddle only about 10 minutes earlier! I've never seen one to this day.

Also on offer as accessories for this range - get this - was a pair of suitcases for that weekend away. Special cradles were fitted at either side of the rear wheel which the suitcases or valises were dropped into. It looks like there may have been a waterproof(?) cover fitted once the case was in place.

After my friend Bryan sold his bike to the National Motorcycle Museum, he presented me with what may be the only surviving valise left in existence. First a photo from publicity of the day, then a couple of photos of this strange accessory of the time. Modern co-ordinated panniers it would appear, are not so modern after all.

Genuine rocking horse poo. Maybe the only surviving genuine New Hudson valise.

Centre spread of the 1931 catalogue with the double top saddle featured bottom right

1931 New Hudson works summer camp        Nov 2017

It appears that New Hudson management were quite heavily into social interaction with their workforce. This photo shows office girls clustered around a current sidecar machine, with one of the ugliest screens I've ever seen! I think the 2 girls at the front are the stars of the publicity shoots.

Do you want more?

If you want to continue the story.........