A Brief History of Rex Motorcycles
Rex began as a motorcar manufacturer in Birmingham in 1899.
The company was started by brothers Billy and Harold Williamson. Both of them were keen to promote the Rex name through various competitions.
By 1900, they had acquired new premises at Osborne Road in Coventry. It was here that they built their first motorcycle which they exhibited at the National Show at Crystal Palace.
Their machines in 1903 were of 381cc capacity. Further development over the next few years saw a 465cc side valve machine and a 726cc V twin.
By 1906 there were sprung front forks featured on the Rex machines.
In 1909, Rex were experimenting with a 470cc two stroke racing machine.
Around 1910, a lady rider named Muriel Hind entered several motorcycle trials and hill climbs aboard a V twin Rex machine with a specially designed open frame.
This machine had the nickname of Blue Devil.
Muriel married another Rex rider named Reg Lord. After Muriel had stopped riding in competitions, Reg used the engine from the Blue Devil to power a home made lawn mower !
Around thirty or so years later, the engine was still in the lawn mower and the frame was still at the back of the garden shed at the Lord’s home in Coventry.
The Blue Devil was restored and for some time was on display at Murray’s Museum on the Isle of Man. Unfortunately, Murray’s Museum has now closed.
The Williamson brothers left Rex in 1911 to go their own separate ways.
The new man in charge at Rex was George Hemingway.
George was keen to develop the company further and by 1912, Rex machines were available with 499cc, 532cc and 896cc engines.
By 1914, a 952cc V-twin engined chain driven machine was added to the range.
A shaft drive version was planned for 1915, but with the outbreak of World War I, this did not reach the general public.
Rex had to stop civilian motorcycle production during the war.
In 1919, Rex took over the Coventry Acme Motor Company and in 1921, the first motorcycle to bear the Rex-Acme name was introduced.
This was a 350cc Blackburne engined machine known as the Impy.
Around this time, the production of Rex engines started to slow down and from 1922, all Rex machines used engines from other manufacturers such as Aza, Blackburne, JAP and Barr & Stroud.
In the 1925 Isle of Man TT Races, Wal Handley became the first rider to win two TT races in one week.
He won the 350cc Junior Race and the 175cc Ultra-Lightweight Race on Rex-Acme machines.
Rex-Acme were struggling financially as the Great Depression started, and as a result, the Osborne Road factory closed down in 1925.
The Rex-Acme name was purchased by the Mills-Fulford sidecar company who went on to produce a range of lightweight 175cc and 250cc machines, however production stopped soon after, and by 1933, Rex-Acme, along with Mills-Fulford were no longer trading.