Wolverhampton, England was home to many of the most popular vintage British motorcycles. One of these popular motorcycles was the Ambassador, which was also known by the name of DMW as it was produced by DMW for a 3 year period during the 1960's.
DMW was perhaps the uncontested, longest running motorcycle manufacturer from Wolverhampton, England.
Started in 1942 by Leslie Dawson, DMW which was also called Dawson's Motorcycles Wolverhampton, produced motorcycles and motorcycle engines and components for over 50 years before closing their doors in 2001.
Leslie Dawson, who was a popular dirt track racer in the late 30's and early 40's first invented and sold a do-it-yourself kit featuring telescoping springs on a pneumatic front fork, in which he first started to produce and sell from his Wolverhampton garage in 1942 the year DMW opened it's doors.
In 1943, Leslie Dawson, then offered another do-it-yourself kit for the rear swing arm. In this kit you would have to cut off the rear portion of the motorcycle and simply weld in the Dawson replacement kit.
Leslie Dawson's first racing motorcycles featured a Japanese engine coupled to his frame and include his front and rear suspension kits. These motorcycles were powered by a 350cc or a 500 cc engine.
After the war, sales increased due to the increase of enthusiasts in the British motorcycle arena. Dawson needed some assistance to expand and Harold Nock answered his call.
Harold Nock had some experience in motorcycles, after working with both Sunbeam and another Wolverhampton motorcycle manufacturer, A.J. Stevens & Co.
Unable to keep DMW on top, Leslie Dawson, fighting Harold Nock's suggestion to make light- weight 2 cylinders, he left DMW and immigrated to Canada.
Before Leslie left, he sold DMW to Harold Nock, with an agreement to not let the patents lapse and go into public domain, but unfortunately he died before he had a chance to know his patents lapsed, causing the company a lot of money, but not before others had managed to grab the patent, making the Dawson designed suspensions a forerunner in the advancement of motorcycles world wide.
Mike Riley, who was an ex B.S.A. Development Engineer, quickly replace Leslie at DMW and Nocks suggestions for a light-weight street bike came to a reality.
DMW was forced to move the plant to Sedgley, due to their Wolverhampton plant size inadequacies. In 1950 their first light-weight street bike was in full swing production and utilised a Villiers engine. DMW at their new Sedgley plant was now able to produce 50 light weight motorcycles every week.
Starting in 1952, DMW made its first of many appearances at the annual Earls Court Motor Cycle Show. Each year with more models than the last and even at their first appearance they showed 6 motorcycles.
The next few years brought many new models and in 1955, DMW made their first appearance in The Motor Cycle after conducting a road test for their February 17th edition.
The mid 50's managed a mark-up for DMW as they were readily releasing motorcycles able to obtain speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour, with the help of French AMC engines.
DMW started to produce scooters and scooter/motorcycle hybrids, one of which was shown on a 1957 showing of The Motor Cycle Show. These hybrids were like no other scooters or motorcycles on the market. With a steel pressed frame and a return to the Villiers engines, DMW's scooters and hybrids became the Belle at any Ball.
The DMW Deemster also became a popular motorcycle for police use in England during the late 50's at a sale price of just under £400.
By 1963, DMW after adapting the Villier engine a bit, started to produce three wheelers, but were not very popular and was weak at lower speeds.
In 1962 Harold Nock purchased the Ambassador Name Badge and produced the motorcycles form 1963 until 1965 when the line was completely dropped.
In the 1960, when the rest of the European Motorcycle Manufacturers were declining in sales and closing their doors due to foreign competition, Harold Nock was being praised for saving the pride of British motorcycles.
With the help of Bill Jakeman, DMW started production on a fibreglass fuel tanked motorcycle weighing 287 pounds and producing 70 horsepower.
By 1965 DMW was working on another first in the motorcycle world, a dual drum front (one on each side of the hub) with a single rear drum brake. This motorcycle was ridden to an amazing victory by Bill Smith in the Isle of Man Southern 100 in 1964. Again in 1966 Brian Duffy rode the same model to a 3rd place victory.
After the Villier's take over in 1960 by Manganese Bronze Holdings, DMW bough out the remaining 11E engines as well as the production rights to the 37A 250c.c. engine.
Ian Jones, a Melbourne, Australian native, bought a brand new DMW motorcycle in 1956 and literally drove it all the way home to Australia.
Graham Beddall bought DMW in 1975 and soon expanded it from 7 to 35 employees by merging his company with DMW while still maintaining production of the Villier engine that DMW had bought in 1960.
DMW continued to produce racing bikes throughout the 1970's 1980's and 1990's, as well as competing and winning several international racing events throughout the 1970's.
DMW continued the engine manufacturing until 2001 when Wolverhampton's longest lived motorcycle manufacturer closed its doors for good.
DMW was split up and each piece was sold, all were closed down over the next 2 years. Today the DMW plant in Sedgley is the home of a new type. A subdivision now sits where the historical DMW manufacturing plant once staked it’s claim to the world that British motorcycles could not be defeated
Original Authors: Nicholas
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 02/06/2008