Back in 2008-2011, Mortons Media Group conceived of a novel way to present the history of the greatest British motorcycle marques in a way that prevents that history from becoming a textbook drone. It released a visually interesting, home-style scrapbook.
It is a unique achievement in publishing called “The Scrapbook Series.” The full series includes Series I Triumph (for our review click here), Series II BSA, Series III Norton and Series IV AJS Matchless.
Each is done in a softcover “bookazine” format of about 130 large format 8.25”x 11.75” glossy pages. Within those pages are about 400 images, period road tests, brochures and articles that bring the BSA story to life.
Birmingham Small Arms – as BSA was properly known – built its first production motorcycle in 1910, but with the priority shifted entirely back to the production of war materiel by WWI, non-military motorcycle production was put on hold by 1917.
During the war, the factory at Small Health turned out 1.5 million Lee-Enfield rifles, 145,000 Lewis machine guns and many other sundry products for the war effort. By the end of the war, BSA had expanded and had many factories producing a range of products.In 1919, BSA Cycles was created to specialize in the manufacture of bicycles and motorcycles.
On pages imaged to look exactly like your typical scrapbook with articles and photos taped to the page, the story unfolds with the help of the vast archive of Mortons Media Group photos and technical matter. Progressing from BSA’s very beginnings in motorcycle manufacture pre-1919 to 1971 and on to the present day, the bookazine provides insights most of us would never know in eight fascinating chapters.
The heyday of BSA was in the decade of the 1950s, when it offered the widest range of bikes of any manufacturer in the world, sixteen models in all, acquired Triumph in 1951, dominated the TT, scrambles (motocross today), gold medals in the ISDT in 1955, and took the first five positions at the 1954 Daytona 200 (which was still run on the beach).
The book shows how heady days of the early sixties that found BSA owning more than 30 companies devolved to hard times for the company by the end of the decade. That, despite the fact that a rocket-firing BSA was a James Bond mount in the 1965 movie “Thunderball” and the first BSA Rocket Three triple sold in North America in 1969 was purchased with some fanfare by none other than Dick Smothers of Smothers Brothers fame.
By 1973, the product range had shrunk to just four models, and, facing bankruptcy, BSA was folded into Norton Villiers Triumph—who weren’t doing much better.
For the BSA enthusiast, collector or owner, “The Scrapbook Series II BSA” is a great find for the library.
- Title: The Scrapbook Series—BSA
- Author: Edited by James Robinson
- Published: 2008
- Publisher: Mortons Media Group, Ltd, Media Centre, Morton Way, Horncastle, Lincs, LN9 6JR
- ISBN: 978-1-906167-09-7
Note to readers: many of the books that we’ll feature in Rider’s Library may be out of print and some may be difficult to find. That could be half the fun. The Internet should make the search relatively easy but ironically, none of the books currently scheduled for eventual retro-review for the Rider’s Library section were found with the help of the Internet. They all were found at book stores, used book stores, antique shops, motorcycle shops, yard sales and so on.