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SNAPSHOT 256: 1916 P&M

This fine image appeared in the 1916 edition of Penrose’s Annual, the review of printing and graphic arts, as an example of excellence in engraving.  It is taken from a photograph, retouched by the process engraving firm of Ashworth, Meredith & Waddington, Ltd, who in 1902 had the distinction of making the first colour process engraving, for the cover of Motor magazine.  It was almost certainly destined for a catalogue.

Phelon & Moore of Cleckheaton in Yorkshire manufactured motorcycles from 1904 to 1967.  Their products were known for their characteristic design: a large sloping single-cylinder engine forming a stressed member of the frame.  Apart from one very brief excursion, they stayed faithful to this layout throughout the life of the company, starting with a capacity of 500 cc and ending with 645 cc.

The concept was patented in 1900 by Joah (“John”) Carver Phelon and his nephew Harry Rayner.  Phelon & Rayner made their first chain-driven motorcycle in 1900 but could not afford to put it into production – so they sold the design to Humber, who produced it until 1907 and paid royalties to the partners.  After Harry Rayner died in a car accident, Joah Phelon went into partnership with Richard Moore.

After Phelon & Moore were established in 1904, their motorcycles were branded as P&M. The 1905 P&M featured a single cylinder 4-stroke engine and a 2-speed gearbox, and chain drive to the rear wheel.  It was claimed to be the ‘first completely chain driven motorcycle’.  P&M machines competed in the first International Six Days Trial in 1913, and the 1914 ACU six days trial.

The sole deviation from the classic P&M design came in July 1914, when they announced details of a prototype 90-degree V-twin of 770 cc capacity, with a four-speed gearbox.  Only a handful are thought to have been built.

P&M motorcycles were used by the Royal Flying Corps during World War I – and it is this 3.5 h.p. 500 cc military model that appears in our Snapshot from 1916.  One source claims that around 6,000 were made during the war.

The 4-speed gearbox from the V-twin was reintroduced on the 1922 555 cc single, the last motorcycle to carry the P&M name.  All later models were branded Panther, being advertised in the catalogue with the words “A great Leap forward!”

Picture courtesy of the Richard Roberts Archive


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