KENILWORTH at the 1921 Olympia Show: ‘A clutch on the countershaft is the chief addition to the now well-known Kenilworth miniature – a type of machine often miscalled a scooter. The four-stroke overhead valve engine is retained, and detail improvements have been embodied as a result of another twelve months on the road. For the lady who has had no previous experience with motor cycles, and who wishes to substitute a petrol-driven vehicle for her pedal cycle, the little mount is eminently suitable. It is extremely easy to wheel about and to start at walking pace, and the new clutch should facilitate this.’
– ‘Motor Cycle’ magazine, November 1921
During World War One, women took on many jobs previously only done by men, and many drove motorcycles. After the war, the motorcycle industry decided to make small motorised machines with the female market in mind, which led to the first generation of ‘motor scooters.’ The Kenilworth scooter, with a four stroke 142cc OHV engine supplied by Norman Engineering Ltd, was one of the market leaders. With its running boards (like the cars of the era) exposed valve springs, and novel method of starting – a ‘walk-start’ – it’s a charming reminder of a time now largely forgotten in British motoring history.
1924 Kenilworth scooter
142cc OHV engine by Norman Engineering Ltd
Engine No 1069
Band brake to rear with foot pedal
The Kenilworth scooter was introduced in 1920. Like other motor scooters, the first model did not have a seat, and the rider stood upright on the running boards. After the first year, manufacturers changed their minds about the riding position and added seats to their machines.
Whereas the first models of Kenilworth scooter had an inclined engine, by 1924 the company had brought out their Kenilworth ‘Miniature Motorcycle’, whose engine was the same capacity but fitted in an upright position. As the scooter featured here has an upright engine and other improvements, I assume it to be from 1924, the last year of production.
This example is in original unrestored condition cosmetically. It has been through our workshops and has been serviced, with new tyres and tubes fitted. The only modification required was a replacement petrol tap added under the petrol tank. As you can see from the illustration below, the motor scooter originally had a leg shield and engine cover; it’s missing on this one, though the exposed mechanical cogitations add to its charm. Rather than having a kick-starter like the majority of motorcycles, this machine employs a ‘walk start.’
MY FRIEND BEN RIDING THE KENILWORTH SCOOTER