Birmingham Small Arms Company

The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited (BSA) was a major industrial combine, a group of businesses manufacturing military and sporting firearms; bicycles; motorcycles; cars; buses and bodies; steel; iron castings; hand, power, and machine tools; coal cleaning and handling plants; sintered metals; and hard chrome process. At its peak, BSA was the largest motorcycle producer in the world. Loss of sales and poor investments in new products in the motorcycle division, which included Triumph Motorcycles, led to problems for the whole group. A government-organized rescue operation in 1973 led to the takeover of remaining operations by what is now Manganese Bronze Holdings, then owners of Norton-Villiers, and over the following decade further closures and dispersals. The original company, The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited, remains a subsidiary of Manganese Bronze but its name was changed in 1987. Manganese Bronze continues to operate former BSA subsidiary Carbodies, now known as LTI Limited, manufacturers of London Taxicabs and the largest wholly British owned car manufacturer. BSA began in June 1861 in the Gun Quarter, Birmingham England founded specifically to manufacture guns by machinery. It was formed by a group of fourteen gunsmith members of the Birmingham Small Arms Trade Association. The market had m ved against British gunsmiths following the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854 because the Board of Ordnance's Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield had introduced machinery made in the USA and Enfield's greatly increased output had been achieved with reduced reliance on skilled craftsmen. The War Office provided this new grouping of gunsmiths free access to technical drawings and their facilities at their Enfield factory. The newly-formed company purchased 25 acres of land at Small Heath, Birmingham, built a factory there and made a road on the site calling it Armoury Road. This machinery brought to Birmingham the principle of the inter-changeability of parts. [edit]Firearms BSA's resort to the use of machinery was rewarded in 1863 with an order for 20,000 Turkish infantry rifles. The management of the BSA Company was changed at an Extraordinary Meeting called on September 30, 1863 when the Company was changed from being run by a committee to that of an elected Board of Directors, Joseph Wilson, Samuel Buckley, Isaac Hollis, Charles Playfair, Charles Pryse, Sir John Ratcliffe, Edward Gem, and J.F. Swinburn under the chairmanship of John Dent Goodman. The first War Office contract was not agreed until 1868. In 1879 the factory, without work, was shut for a year. The military arms trade was precarious.