Hundreds of vintage vehicles will line up outside an old Aston-based factory this weekend to mark the 100-year formation of one of Britain’s biggest ever bicycle manufacturers.
Enthusiasts will celebrate the incredible milestone of The Hercules Cycle and Motor Company Limited which was founded in 1910 by the Crane brothers, Harry and Edmund.
Cycling legend Tommy Godwin, who ran his his own bike shop in Kings Heath, Birmingham, for 36 years will officially launch the event on Sunday, and sign copies of his book.
A large number of classic vehicles are expected to descend on the Rocky Lane base – the site of the old Hercules’ factory – for the event organised by Bridgnorth Vintage Machinery Club.
Cars, motorbikes, bicycles, caravans and even tractors will be among the contingent to mark the 100-year birthday of the manufacturer that was once the biggest bike producer anywhere in the world.
After visiting the former site, the group will proceed to The Trimpley Vintage Rally near Kidderminster where 480 classic vehicles are entered in the annual rally, including a steam car which is arriving from Austria on a UK tour.
Former Olympic bronze medallist Tommy Godwin, who also coached the 1964 Great Britain cycling summer Olympic Games team, said: “Hercules is such a wonderful name with a wonderful history. Many people forget that we had so many cycling companies in Birmingham, but there was no doubt that Hercules was the biggest.
“When my sister was 16, she got a job at the Hercules site, and we lived minutes away. I love thinking about the past, and cycling is a fond memory.”
The Hercules company was started in the back streets of Balsall Heath with Edmund the main driving force behind the business. He was knighted for his role in turning the firm into the UK’s largest cycle company.
All of the bicycles that were made were robust and designed for the working man, hence the name Hercules.
After starting the manufacturing process at a derelict house in Coventry Road, production rose in six months from 25 cycles a week to 70.
In 1923 it moved into the Rocky Lane site and by the end of the 1930s Hercules had produced more than six million bicycles and could claim to be the biggest manufacturer of cycles in the world.
It had also become one of the biggest businesses in Aston and to this day the mascot of Aston Villa Football Club is Hercules the Lion.
In 1946, the company was sold to Tube Investments for £3,25 million. Hercules still exists today after being taken over by Raleigh in the 1950s. Operations and production are now in India.
Each year the classic motorcycle event, is run from a different motorcycle factory.