George on one of WE Brough’s Machines circa 1902
George on one of WE Brough’s Machines circa 1902

William Edward Brough was born 1861,17th August in the house lived in by his mother's parents, Samuel Towle and his wife Ann.
Edward Brough, his father was a coal miner, his mother Eliza, formerly 'Towle'. The boy was named after his grandfather William Brough and was christened 1861, 9th September.
Late in 1872 William was enrolled in Nottingham High Pavement School. He is in the register of new boys, as William Edward Slack.( The maiden name of his grandmother, who was unmarried when she had her first children with William Brough)
1881 William aged 20, was still living with his parents, described as a 'Brick Presser', at Babbington brickworks. Sometime after this, he changed job to work as an ‘engineer- in the loosest sense’ , in the adjacent colliery.
Married in 1884 his first son also William Edward was born soon after, with William senior described as a colliery engine driver( nothing to do with pithead winding gear).
In 1886 William enrolled in Nottingham University College to study Electricity and Magnetism. He later became a Colliery Electric Bell fitter as noted on his daughters birth certificate.(Not Chief Electrician)
Moving into Mandalay Street, first number 8, then a year later number 10.where George was born. Here he started making safety bicycles under the ‘Giant’ trademark. His brother Albert was the tallest man in England at that time, hence ‘Giant’
About 1895 he moved round the corner into the Vernon Road works, which had been built previously and used as a Dye Works. Here he started Electroplating, continuing with bicycles and experimenting with powered tricycles, cars and then .motorcycles.

On 18 June 1885 W.E Brough's elder son was born called also William Edward after his father. George was the second son, being born at 10 Mandalay Street on 21 April 1890. From an early age both son’s naturally, one could almost say automatically, became actively involved in motorcycling.

Thus we find William Junior entering his first trial, The A.C.C. end to end in 1906, winning a gold medal, his number being 23. George was number 24, both on Brough’s of course.George finished three days behind the last man and had to apply l.p.a. everywhere except downhill. In 1902 William junior transferred his energies into shipbuilding, but returned to his father's works in 1921 and remained until 1923, after which he took no further part in the firm's activities. Not so George, who we find remaining with his father and testing machines as they were completed.

In the Nottingham road trials in 1911 George rode a vee twin produced in the Vernon Road works. The image below shows the general lines of the completed machine, it’s excellent finish and contemporary sidecar replete with decorated wickerwork.

George in the saddle exercising great care as the passenger is his mother.
George in the saddle exercising great care as the passenger is his mother.

One of Georges greatest feats during this period was to come first in the London – Edinburgh trial three consecutive years- 1910, 1911 and 1912. this won for him the Motor Cycling Cup.

In common with every English engineering concern of any standing the Vernon Road works during the first world was most actively engaged in essential production for the Admiralty, petrol priming installations for Rolls Royce aero engines and 13 – pounder A.A. shells.

Naturally, such efforts curtailed development and manufacture of motorcycles.

In addition to running the Basford works successfully, W. E. Brough was quick to patent any good idea his fertile mind produced.

Such was the background and atmosphere in which George Brough grew up, most favourable and encouraging for one with ideas of improving the English motorcycle.

At the end of the war, George found himself in partnership with his father, a situation he thought most favourable for developing his dreams of producing a luxury motorcycle of large engine capacity, excellently made and finished to appeal to the connoisseur.

His father William was not ready for such a serious venture, whereupon George , undaunted and younger in outlook, was.

George procured from his father his one-third share in the Basford business, telling him that he to would make a Brough, superior to the average motorcycle then available.

He immediately bought a small plot of land in Haydn Road Nottingham, and erected a small workshop, office and store.

For a few weeks before settling in at Haydn Road, the first four or five machines were built late in 1919 in a small garage previously built by his father.

As the new premises were ready, his father's garage was vacated and Brough Superiors began to emerge to lucky customers whilst Brufsup, Nottingham became a new telegraphic interest via Imperial Cables to be memorized like the postal address Haydn Road, by countless big twin fans.

Proper production commenced in this new home early in 1920.


One of the first SS100's to be produced.
One of the first SS100's to be produced.