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Book reviews — February 2017

'The Matchless Colliers', by Bill Cakebread
The Matchless Colliers

120 pages 104 illustrations, softback 235 x 157 mm. £12 plus £2.50 postage and packing — see below. One Track Publishing 2016. ISBN-13: 978-0995451001
Starting in 1891 in Plumstead, the Matchless Company at first manufactured bicycles, producing their first motorcycle in 1899. Later motor cars were made and also an aeroplane. Founded by Henry Herbert Collier, the firm was managed by Henry and his three sons, all capable engineers and successful racing motorcyclists. This book is their personal history and follows their achievements from the founding of Matchless in 1891 to the death of the last Collier brother, Charles, in 1954.

Matchless acquired the Wolverhampton firm AJS in 1931 and in 1938 Matchless and AJS formed Associated Motorcycles (AMC). Following the Second World War several other motorcycle manufacturers, including Norton, were added to the group. However, in the late 1950s there was a period of decline, and sadly the Plumstead factory finally closed in 1969. Nothing now remains of the manufactory; the site is marked by a small plaque on a low wall at TQ 441 789.

This book by Bill Cakebread should be of interest to anyone with a passion for motorcycles and the TT races on the Isle of Man in particular. It is, however, a family history of the Colliers and will also appeal to anyone interested in South East London. Descendants of the Collier brothers have provided a good deal of new material and this book is quite an original work, throwing light on the period up to the First World War as well as the inter-war period. Copies are £10 each plus post and packing — £2.50 (UK), £6.00 (Europe) and £8.50 (USA). They are available from the author at The Paddock, High Street, Battle, East Sussex TN33 9JR. Cheques should be made payable to W A Cakebread. You can also contact the author direct at

This is the second book by former AMC apprentice Bill Cakebread. His first book, Motorcycle Apprentice: Matchless — in name & reputation, published in 2008, describes his apprentice days and might perhaps be compared with Dockland Apprentice by David Carpenter (GLIAS Newsletter February 2005). Bob Carr

© GLIAS, 2017