This blog post was written by our work experience student Abu. Abu joined us this year through our Careers for All programme which creates work opportunities for 16-25 year olds with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities).
When we explored the idea of writing a blog we looked at a number of objects that we wanted to highlight to the public and the scooter was the clear favourite. This object is not currently on display so read on to find out more about this hidden treasure.
When people think about the motorised scooter from the 1950’s-60’s their minds often jump to the question: ‘Is it a Vespa or a Lambretta?’
In the Leeds Discovery Centre however, we have a rather more unusual automobile: The Triumph Werke.
The Triumph Werke was constructed in Germany. This model was considered a high-end prestige model and is quite rare. The scooter was built to the same standards as a German-made car of the time. Triumph-Werke Nurnberg AG was a German bicycle and motorcycle company.
In 1886 a German immigrant, Siegfried Bettmann, leaves Nuremberg and travels to Coventry, England. He began working in sewing machine factory but later establishes his own import/export company importing German sewing machines and selling bicycles made in Birmingham. He changes the name of his company to The Triumph Cycle Company.
He also later founded another company under a similar name, TWN, the Triumph Werke Nurnberg. Both factories branched out into making motorcycles: the Coventry factory in 1902 and the Nuremberg factory in 1903.
Marketing and sales
Although we do not have the vehicles receipt we have a review in the magazine Power and Pedal with The Scooter from September 1956. The cost of the scooter was £229 and 8 shillings which would have been a lot of money at that time.
The owner of this particular scooter was Geoffrey Unwin and he was 27 years old when he bought it and must have been earning a decent wage to afford it.
Weight: 110kg (242.5 pounds)
Top speed: 60mph
Engine type: 200 CC
Wheels: 10 inch
1957 is a bit earlier than Mods and Rockers who were a phenomenon of the early 1960s. Mr Unwin was taking his scooter around to rallies across the country to show it off as a prestige item, rather than tearing around the streets in leathers in a gang.
Scooter rallies took place all around the UK. People used to come from all over Europe to participate in them. The scooter rallies would be varied in size. Some were very large, such as those at seaside resorts and the Isle Of Man, but others may have been smaller events held in a field at a stately home and were a bit more exclusive. There would be about 200 to 300 participants.
Riding to the rally would be part of the enjoyment of the event. They did include racing, but Geoffrey Unwin was likely more interested in winning the ‘Concours D’elegance’ trophies, which were more of a beauty contest for prestige models, so meant lots of polishing the metal and making it look good and showing it off! One of the more unusual contests you could compete in at a scooter rally was the slow race. The aim of the contest was to be as slow as possible, however you would be disqualified if you finished last.
By Abu, Careers For All student placement