BSA – symbolic of British decline?

Two opposed views:

The belief in economic decline is a mixture of illusion and misunderstanding. Britain has been relatively wealthy at least since the Middle Ages, and industrial pioneers gave us a temporary dominance in manufacturing during the mid-19th century. This was a brief and unique episode. Naturally, other countries adopted British technology — helped by British capital and expertise — and began to catch up. This was desirable as well as natural, because it provided richer markets for British goods and services and valuable investment opportunities for British savers.

To begin with, we will assess the state of Britain in 1945 both at home and abroad as it faced the challenges of post-war reconstruction. Already, during the war, important innovations, such as the Beveridge Report of 1942 and the Education Act of 1944, signalled the desire for reform and change across many sections of the British public. This resulted in the landslide Labour victory of July 1945. Labour then instituted a radical programme of nationalisation in transport and heavy industry as well as the establishment of a free National Health Service. Britain’s desperate economic situation, however, forced the government to continue with rationing and controls throughout the late-1940s. This is turn provoked increasing opposition in the country as people chaffed under the restrictions and shortages. In the general election of 1950, the Labour government’s majority was cut to five in the House of Commons and the following year Winston Churchill returned to No. 10 to head a Conservative government.

Your take on it?

6 comments for “BSA – symbolic of British decline?

  1. decnine
    December 3, 2019 at 14:54

    The immunities which Lloyd-George conceded to the unions to keep the armaments factories working were allowed to last much too long. A possible answer to the long rail strike now taking place would be to end the unions’ immunity to being sued for damages by third parties harmed by strike action.

  2. Ripper
    December 3, 2019 at 18:48

    Go on James – now tell the other half of the story regarding the motorcycle industry – how the workers had the sit in at Meriden and how it eventually became a co-op. Not the most astute move at the time, as has been proven many times, workers co-ops always fail… but it did at least break Meriden away from the BSA group who were already in free fall. Meanwhile the unions were not only wrecking BSA, but the car industry as well with Red Robbo and his ilk. I seem to remember at the time that the government shovelled a total of £11bn into British Leyland, and for what? Presumably so that Robbo could call another strike if someone farted. Whatever one may think about Thatcher, taking on the unions was the best thing she ever did.
    The Meriden co-op eventually hit the wall, and along came John Bloor, a property developer with no experience or knowledge of motorcycles, and bought the remains, including the machine templates and Triumph logo. Les Harris, a classic motorcycle parts manufacturer, began building Bonnevilles under licence granted by Bloor.
    Bloor then built a new £46m factory in Hinckley and called on the expertise of the best in industry – for example Cosworth Engineering designed 2 engines, a triple and a four, and by using a short stroke crank in each, two further engine capacities could be produced. These went into a common frame, where only the cycle parts (tanks/seats etc) would determine the model and type of bike.
    Then in 2000 Triumph added some diversity with the models. No longer the engine in a common frame, and this time Lotus Engineering designed the engines. The first ‘unique’ model was to be the Bonneville, followed shortly after by the 2,300cc Rocket III.
    Bloor did exactly what the guy in your video said – he copied the Japanese and improved. However, he did not lose the bike’s heritage (something Harley Davidson had milked for years) and the truly iconic models such as the Bonneville were built to look as close to the original as possible. My 2010 Bonneville (which looks a lot different now than when I bought it) appears to have twin Mikuni carbs, but if you open them up there is nothing in there, apart from a fuel injector and throttle position sensor.
    But look at Triumph now – currently they are outselling the Japanese, Germans and Italians.
    My belief about the decline in manufacturing is that there was one, caused in most part by the unions strangle hold, but also manufacturer apathy and failure to invest in their own business. But that’s not only BSA and there are many more facets of it. The UK has since evolved into a service industry and manufacturing has been unable to fully recover. But its much easier and cheaper nowadays to outsource work to low paid foreign countries or import foreign goods, so I cannot believe it ever will.

    • December 3, 2019 at 20:26

      We could extend that to the unions nearly shutting down Liverpool.

  3. Passing through
    December 3, 2019 at 20:29

    Yeah, its just not a simple subject is it.
    I remember those later days of motorcycle manufacturing it was just as I was starting my life of riding. My first legal road “bike” was a Honda Moped after that I rode British bikes and still do, plus an American or two. Never owned a Japanese bike since that 50 but I can and do appreciate what they did.
    British manufacturing on the other hand, No shortage of innovation or of engineering excellence. Progressing it through to completion and success on the other hand is the story of the decline of Britannia.

  4. Passing through
    December 3, 2019 at 20:39

    What Ripper said above about all of it.

    As to the final bit I would add a caution, the old maxim,
    1st generation creates it.
    2nd generation builds it.
    3rd generation drinks it.

    From rumours I hear things under Mr Bloor junior are raising an odd eyebrow.

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