“BSA was formed in June 1861, with a capital of £24,500, specifically to manufacture guns. It was the largest private manufacturer of arms in Europe. The company, controlled by a committee of all its members, purchased a 25-acre site at Small Heath, Birmingham, on which they built a factory for the sum of £17,050. This plant was expanded, improved many times and even bombed by Hitler during the Blitz. It was finally demolished in 1977.
BSA received its first government contract in 1866, for the conversion of 100,000 muzzle loaders into breech loaders, to be completed within twenty months. The order, which was worth a massive £98,750, was given to BSA for fear of Britain becoming involved in the Austro-Prussian war. The factory at Small Heath responded to the emergency by setting up a night shift and turned out 3,000 conversions a week, completing the contract by February 1868 [extract from the History of BSA in the book ‘BAD TEETH NO BAR: History of Military Bicycles in the Great War’]