Brough Superior motorcycle pioneer George Brough honoured
- 26 April 2014
- From the section Nottingham
The inventor and maker of what was regarded as the world's first superbike - the Brough Superior - a motorbike made famous by Lawrence of Arabia and playwright George Bernard Shaw is finally being honoured with two plaques at houses in which he lived in Nottingham.
Nicknamed the "Rolls Royce of motorcycles" in The Motor Cycle newspaper because of George Brough's attention to detail and quality, the Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle was built between 1924 and 1940 at his factory in the city's Haydn Road.
Each machine was certified to reach 100mph (160km/h) and one was used to set a motorcycle land-speed record, when British racer Eric Fernihough reached 163.82mph (263.64 km/h) over a mile, in 1936, before hitting a speed of 169.79mph (263km/h), a year later.
But, despite the popularity and fame of the motorbikes, George Brough's memory has been largely forgotten.
The Haydn Road factory, where he worked his magic, and which was used to make Spitfire engines during World War Two, no longer exists and a small housing estate stands in its place.
Hilary Sylvester, from the Nottingham Civic Society, said it was a shame there had been no recognition for Brough until now.
"He was a local boy who found worldwide fame," she said. "A son of Nottingham who stayed here all his life."
"George Brough's bikes were the Harley Davidson's of the day and were taken up by all sorts of people like Orson Welles and George Bernard Shaw.
"It's rumoured that Bernard Shaw even introduced the Brough Superior to TE Lawrence."
World War One British army officer TE Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, owned seven of the bikes and was killed riding one in Dorset, in 1935.
The Sheriff of Nottingham is due to unveil a plaque on the birthplace of George Brough at 10 Mandalay Street, Basford, before being driven in a Brough Superior car to a second venue at 101 Arnold Road, where Mr Brough lived when he was first married.
Terry Hobden, from the Brough Superior Motorcycle Club, who helped arrange the tributes, said: "George was an engineer, a showman, and entrepreneur.
"He set out to make something significantly different."
Mr Hobden added that as part of Mr Brough's marketing strategy he would enter races like the Land End Trial, a timed run from London to Lands End and back.
He said: "Everything he did was done with a great flourish, he was larger than life."
Brough Superiors continue to capture the imaginations of enthusiasts and command high prices at auction, one of the vehicles which dated back to 1934 sold for £166,500 in April 2008.
Of the 3,000 made there are thought to be about 1,100 models left worldwide that are still on the road, according to the Brough Superior Motorcycle Club.
However, in 2008, a British man Mark Upham bought the rights to the Brough Superior name and started building new bikes.
The bikes live on and so does the name George Brough who will finally be honoured in his home city.