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 Circuit.

Background

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.

Broom Engineering

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 Development Engineering.

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.

Silverstone

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 bikes.

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.

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