Hesketh Motorcycles was an English motorcycle manufacturer,
based in Daventry and Easton Neston.
The company was formed by Lord Hesketh in 1980, then after his two ventures
went bust from 1984 onwards, the marque has been maintained and improved by
Broom Engineering, now based at Turweston Aerodrome near Silverstone
The project was inspired by Lord Hesketh, who planned to revive the failing
British motorcycle industry and at the time had a background of F1 racing
being the last private team to win a F1 Grand Prix, with James Hunt at the
wheel. Lord Hesketh wanted to use the skills and facilities built up in that
pursuit to greater effect and production of a quality motorcycle was born.
The Hesketh motorcycle was developed on the Easton Neston estate, with the
prototype running in the spring of 1980 using a special Weslake engine. The
V-twin V1000 (based loosely on the marketing panache of the Vincent
Motorcycle), offered all sorts of advances; for example, it was the first
British bike with four valves per cylinder and twin camshafts (although
commonplace in Japanese machines).
After two years of development, the project was announced to the press and
partners were sought for the manufacturing. However, none were forthcoming
and so Lord Hesketh formed Hesketh Motorcycles plc. In 1982 a modern purpose
built factory was set up to manufacture the motorcycles in Daventry.
However, there were numerous problems. The bikes were heavy, made worse by a
high riding style; and unreliable, with numerous manufacturing problems
adding to an overheating rear cylinder due to lack of air flow. The
resultant bad press combined on top of an under-developed bike, lack of cash
and a collapsing market meant that after the production of 139 bikes, the
company went into receivership.
The Triumph Motorcycles co-operative looked at buying the rights to the
machine, as they lacked a new model beyond the aged Triumph Bonneville. A
V1000 machine even appeared with a Triumph badge on its tank, but Triumph
also lacked funding to buy and develop the machine.
In 1983, Lord Hesketh formed a new company called Hesleydon Ltd to manufacture
a revamped V1000 with a full fairing, called the Vampire. However, although
the company had produced a motorcycle with export potential in mind, the
Vampire retained too many of the V1000's faults and only 40 were produced
before the company closed again in 1984.
Mick Broom was part of the original development team of the Hesketh marque,
and was based with the development team in the old laundry at Easton Neston.
When the original Hesketh Motorcycles plc company went into receivership,
Broom was part of a team funded by Lord Hesketh that supported the owners of
the original machines, offering maintenance and modifications to the bikes
sold. This funded team eventually became Hesleydon Ltd, who obtained the
necessary certification to sell overseas and went on to develop the Vampire
after requests for a touring version of the V1000.
Combined with the general down turn in motorcycle market, the high cost of the
parts and the inability to raise finance to implement volume production
assembly methods, Lord Hesketh sold Hesleydon to Broom to form Broom
Based in the same outbuildings where the development of the V1000 had begun,
Broom and his team began improvement of the V1000 into a reliable
"gentleman's" long distance tourer. This included the resolution of the
overheating problems through both increased oil flow, as well as a radiator
to cool the rearward cylinder. Broom has produced up to 12 motorcycles per
annum, as well as developing the Vulcan and Vortan machine.
In 2006, having been forced to leave Easton Neston after it sales by Lord
Hesketh to Leon Max, and Max's intention to turn the stable block into a
call centre for his Max Store clothing brand, Broom Engineering relocated to
Turweston Aerodrome near Silverstone Circuit. However, just before the move,
and at the point where most items were in packing crates, a robbery occurred
with total value of £40,000 - including irreplaceable records, tools, and
Eventually, production of the V1000 and its development models will cease.
This could be due to a lack of engine castings, the advance of environmental
and noise legislation, or simply the cost of the machine which is now
effectively a hand-built custom. However, Broom continues to support
maintenance and improvement of the machine.