1913 All-Black Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen

 PREV  ITEM 152 / 278  NEXT 





By 1908, the firm was in a strong position …A 2 3/4hp gentleman’s motor-bicycle appeared for the first time in the 1913 cycle catalogue, nine years after John Marston’s decision that there should be none. But in his eyes the Sunbeam bicycles and tricycles were by then as near perfection as could be obtained – the last design patent had been granted in 1910 – and perhaps design work at Sunbeamland had shifted to the motorcycle, as had happened with other famous cycle-firms such as BSA, Centaur, Humber, James, New Hudson, New Imperial, Premier, Quadrant, Rudge-Whitworth, Singer, Sparkbrook and Triumph …In 1916 John Marston relinquished daily control of the factory.

– From ‘Sunbeam Cycles: The Story from the Catalogues’ pages 201, 202

1913 All-Black Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen

2-Speed Epicyclic Gears

24″ Frame
28″ Wheels – Aluminium ‘Roman’ Rims
Original Brooks ‘B49’ Saddle, made exclusively for the Golden Sunbeam
This is my daily riding bike. I regularly test-ride many interesting and obscure machines, so there’s a lot of choice. But it’s hard to beat a Golden Sunbeam for a smooth ride and regal appearance. I also find myself particularly attracted to a hundred-year-old bicycle retaining its original gilt lettering and transfers (decals). Something so delicate as gold lettering withstanding the ravages of time feels almost like ‘cheating’ Old Father Time himself.
And, of course, a century-old bicycle that still rides so well is a testament to the quality of the workmanship at John Marston Ltd. The company was at its peak in 1913, still run by John Marston himself, and the British Empire reigned supreme. A year later, so many skilled tradesmen would be sent to their deaths for the sake of glory and The King (and, of course, the defeat of a bellicose enemy). But, in 1913, despite impending war bubbling under the surface, the only minor infringement on the country’s equilibrium was the sound of Golden Sunbeam wheels spinning over this green and pleasant land.
I use this 1913 Golden as a yardstick to compare other machines for originality. Everything is original except the new tyres and tubes, and it is 99% complete – the only thing missing is the ‘milled screw’ on top of the head lock. Even the lighting set is from 1913. The well worn saddle is an original B49, made by Brooks exclusively for the Golden Sunbeam. I’m wary of riding on valuable saddles with original leather tops, but this one is in sound condition.
The advantage of using the original saddle on such an illustrious machine is, of course, that you are perched on the exact location favoured by fastidious gentlemen riders of the past hundred years.










In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, nearby Brighton had become very fashionable, especially amongst the top tier of British society. The Kemp Town estate there had been a success, and so in 1824 architect Charles Busby entered into an agreement to build houses on land lying at the extreme east of Hove, adjacent to Brighton. This land belonged to Thomas Read Kemp, creator of Kemp Town. Building of the estate began in 1825. The name Brunswick was presumably taken from House of Brunswick, a term sometimes used for the House of Hanover, the name of the British royal family at the time.

Facilities including a market were provided. The market, opened in 1828, was funded by Busby himself but was not a success and was converted to a riding school in the 1840s. It is now a theatre. The centre of Brunswick is a public garden (above). The interior photo below is of 12 Brunswick Square.