1910s BSA Territorial with WW1 Military Fittings

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BSA On War Service

 

During the 51 years of its existence the Birmingham Small Arms Company has had to face and overcome many difficulties and has formed a close acquaintance with mighty national and international problems in its dealings with Governments. Its progress, from its inception by a combination of a few individual gunmakers to its present world-renowned position, has been marked by a continuity of sound principles with the happy direction of far-sighted, broad-minded and progressive business men. And well it has been so. For all those problems and difficulties of the past faded into mere nothingness before the appalling situation disclosed on that memorable day in August 1914, when war was declared between England and Germany.

– ‘Munitions of War: A Record of the Work of the BSA Company During the Great War’

BSA was the world’s leading supplier of military bicycles. Prior to 1910, bicycles were supplied as fittings only, to be assembled locally. With international orders, this avoided import tax. Australia, for example, published guidelines as to how rough the imported parts must be in order to qualify for import tax exemption. The Australian bicycle and motorcycle industry was founded on BSA Fittings, so BSA parts were the most common to be found in Australian bicycles. When war was declared, BSA bicycles were supplied to Australian soldiers by the British government. You can see a typical example in the photo below.

1917 bsa oz

 

1910s BSA Territorial with WW1 Military Fittings

26″ Frame

28″ Wheels

BSA grips

Brooks saddle

(Fitted with Webley & Scott Bayonet Training Rifle for illustration only)

 
 BSA bicycles were supplied worldwide before and during the Great War. As you can see in the photo of Australian cyclist troops, BSA supplied bicycles for the War both with and without military fittings. When war was declared in August, 1914, cycle companies converted their roadster bicycles into military bicycles. I converted this BSA in the same way. This is most likely a BSA Gent’s Roadster Model 3A (the ‘A’ suffix denotes a freewheel with two ‘rolling lever brakes’), featuring nickel handlebars, fork crowns and wheel rims, and priced at £8 15/-.
 
A rear carrier, rifle clips and tool bag would have been added. The inflator pump was relocated from the seat tube to the top tube, so as not to foul the lower rifle clip. The ‘Territorial’ illustration illustrates 2nd pattern open sided rifle clips. A roadster was thus transformed into a military model. BSA described it as the ‘BSA Territorial’.
BSA’s are not easy to date accurately. This could be 1910s though my instincts tell me it’s most likely 1920s. It has an old time repaint and a previous owner has painted the seat springs and BSA chainwheel logo in gold. I’ll sell this as a WW1 replica – it’s hard to find authentic WW1 bicycles, so this is an excellent budget option. I sell the replica rifle clips separately, though I’m including a set with this machine. The purchaser can choose the slab sided rifle clip already fitted, or the open style shown in the catalogue illustration below. If necessary, I can also supply a rear carrier rack, pump clips and inflator pump.
You can see similar in my book ‘BAD TEETH NO BAR: A HISTORY OF MILITARY BICYCLES IN THE GREAT WAR’ – on page 167 (Chapter 22: Coastal Defence) and page 259 (Chapter 38: Birmingham Small Arms).
 

 

 

BAD TEETH NO BAR: A HISTORY OF MILITARY BICYCLES IN THE GREAT WAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1914 BSA CATALOGUE EXTRACTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEBLEY & SCOTT BAYONET TRAINING RIFLE

Webley & Scott is best known for the standard issue service pistol used by the armed forces of Great Britain and its Empire from 1887 onwards. Officially known as ‘Pistol, Webley, Mk 1’ the initial contract was for 10,000 .455 calibre revolvers. It went through various model changes. The Mk IV was known as the ‘Boer War Model’ and the Mk VI was introduced in 1915, to be used for the duration of WW1.  The company also manufactured flare pistols and a bayonet training rifle.

The Bayonet Training Rifle is constructed like a rifle with wood stock and cup steel butt plate. The action and barrel are just a tube, with wooden fore stock, containing a large coil spring into which a floating steel rod is secured with a steel disc to the front.

Upon contact with an opponent the rod compresses into the tube simulating bayonet combat, which, at that stage of WW1 was an everyday event on the Western Front.