The Coventry Eagle Motorcycle Company

The company we now know as Coventry Eagle started on the 1st June 1890 as Hotchkiss, Mayo and Meek. The partners were Richard Hotchkiss (a grocer from Warwick), John Meek (a mechanical engineer) and Edmund Mayo (from the local watch making industry).

In the beginning the company manufactured bicycles and was based at Hill Cross Works, Coventry. Over the next 50 years the company had Coventry premises at Progress Works, Stoney Stanton Road, Bishopsgate Green, Foleshill Road, Lincoln Street and Tile Hill. Two of their three factories were completely destroyed by enemy action in 1940 and in the next year the remaining factory was badly damaged. Motorcycle production was not resumed after World War Two and in 1957 bicycle production was moved to Birmingham.

1899 letterhead

The first reference I can find to motor vehicles offered for sale by Coventry Eagle is in their 1900 cycle catalogue. A Royal Eagle motor car is advertised together with a Royal Eagle tricycle. In the years around 1901 Coventry Eagle entered the motorcycle business but there is little information regarding the type and number of motorcycles made in the early days. Except for a period following the company going into liquidation in 1903, and for some years at the time of the First World War, Coventry Eagle made motorcycles from 1901 to 1940. Over the years they made a very wide range of motorcycles ranging from utility models to the second most expensive motorcycle of its time. Engines were bought in from a number of manufacturers including J A Prestwich and Villiers together with gearboxes from the likes of Sturmey Archer and Albion. Much of the motorcycle design work at Coventry Eagle was carried out by Percy Mayo, the third son of Edmund and Hannah Mayo. Percy designed the Flying 8 and the pressed steel frame models; he is also credited by some with the design of the Brough Superior V twin.