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Enfield. The Beginning

"In 1851, the firm of George Townsend & Co opened its doors in the tiny village of Hunt End, near the Worcestershire town of Redditch. The firm specialized in sewing needles and machine parts. When George died the company was passed ot his son, George, Jnr. Like many other manufacturers, Townsend & Co examined bicycles and considered options for getting into the cycle business. Their breakthrough was a local invention – a saddle that only used one length of wire in the two springs and in the framework. This was adopted, patented and marketed as the Townsend Cyclists Saddle & Spring and enabled the company to enter the bicycle parts trade.

From bicycle parts, George Townsend Jr slowly moved on to producing bicycles himself. He was also supplying a wide range of parts to other manufacturers – Givry Works was growing rapidly. Over the next three years he developed his own range of over two-dozen machines. Each machine, known locally as the Townsend Cycle was reputed for its sturdy frame, a character that all Enfield bikes would follow.

Townsend got into financial trouble in about 1890 and called in some financiers from Birmingham. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite see eye to eye. So Townsend parted ways with the financiers leaving the company to them. The financiers then brought in Albert Eadie and R.W. Smith. They took control of Townsend’s in November 1891. The following year the firm was re-christened The Eadie Manufacturing Company Limited.

The directors Albert Eadie and Robert Walker Smith displayed ten machines at the 1892 Stanley Show (including two Eadie front drivers and six safeties). Smith was a former designer at Rudge responsible for Perry parts and fittings; Eadie was manufacturer of Perry parts and fittings.

The company was registered on 24 February 1893 (No. 170,951). An office with showroom was opened at 166 Edmund Street, Birmingham (from December 1893 at 94 Snow Hill, Birmingham). The badge was a shield with a smaller shield inset containing a field gun facing left. It seems that initially the company sold machines made by the Eadie Manufacturing Co and moved into the former works of Townsend, George & Co. at Givry Works, Hunt End, Redditch, Worcestershire from 1896. There was a London showroom at 6c Sloane Street and a Dublin showroom at 73 Grafton Street.

During this time the company name changed several times: Enfield Manufacturing Co. Ltd (wound up on 8 January 1897), Enfield Cycle Co. Ltd, New Enfield Cycle Co. Ltd and then reverted to Enfield Cycle Co. Ltd. In 1892 Eadie won a contract to supply rifle parts to the Royal Small Arms factory at Enfield and to celebrate this a new bicycle design was named the ‘Enfield’ from October that year. In 1893 ‘Royal’ was added (from the Royal Small Arms name) making the model name ‘Royal Enfield’. At the 1893 Stanley Show the firm showed a front-driver and a tandem but the latter received some criticism. For the 1894 Stanley Show there were 19 safeties on display, plus two tandems. A main feature of their lady’s machine for 1895 was the frame which was adopted as a distinctive marketing feature at the instigation of Albert Eadie.


In 1899 the first mechanical vehicle was advertised by Enfield Cycle Company. It was available in both tricycle and quadricycle form, powered by a De Dion 1.5 hp engine. They also experimented with a heavy bicycle frame fitted with a Minerva engine clamped to the front downtube." (from