The Vincent Black Shadow: History of iconic Stevenage-built motorcycle to be revealed at museum book signing

Tim Kingham will talk about his book The Vincent Black Shadow at Stevenage Museum tomorrow.

Tim Kingham will talk about his book The Vincent Black Shadow at Stevenage Museum tomorrow. - Credit: Archant

Stevenage once resounded with the gravelly noise of motorbike engines.

Some of the Vincent machines in action

Some of the Vincent machines in action - Credit: Archant

Its Vincent motorbike factory, at the site of what is now Thomas Alleyne Academy, was one of the town’s most famous employers from 1928 into the early 1950s – and produced machines which have become some of the most iconic and sought-after among motorbike enthusiasts.

The factory has long since closed, but the reputation of Vincent motorbikes very much lives on.

Now Kettering-based Vincent Spares company secretary Tim Kingham has written a book about Vincent’s most iconic machine, the Black Shadow – which was first unveiled in 1948 with the then-incredible top speed of 125mph.

Tim will talk about and sign copies of his book at Stevenage Museum in St George’s Way tomorrow (Saturday) from 2pm.

The Vincent factory in Stevenage Old Town

The Vincent factory in Stevenage Old Town - Credit: Archant


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The book explains how the model was originally conceived in secrecy, its development and subsequent production, and discusses in depth those features it shares with the other Vincent models and those that differentiate it.

It charts the details of the changes introduced in its production life, and the modifications in the interests of speed or improved road performance that have been made to it by generations of owners over the 60-odd years since production ceased.

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The book is sure to be a an essential read for any fan of this iconic bike, and preserves a key part of Stevenage’s history.

Vincent Motorcycles manufactured their machines in the Old Town from 1928 to 1955.

Owner Phil Vincent bought out ailing motorbike firm HRD and moved production to Stevenage under the name of HRD Vincent.

The business started in 1928 with around 12 staff, but at its peak employed 200.

The Vincent Black Shadow became one of the best known motorcycles of the 1950s – but at a Vincent Owners’ Club dinner in the summer of 1955, Phil Vincent announced the closure of the company due to heavy financial losses.

One week before Christmas 1955, the last Vincent came off the production line – reportedly labelled ‘the last’.

However, even though production stopped, enthusiasm for the brand did not.

Today the Vincent Owners’ club is the largest single-branded motorcycle club in the world, and the motorcycles among the most sought-after.

You can purchase signed copies of the book from the museum from 2pm.

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