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Scott Motorcycle History

Scott motorcycles

The Scott Motorcycle Company was owned by Scott Motors (Saltaire) Limited, Shipley, West Yorkshire, England and was a well known producer of motorcycles and light engines for industry.

The company was founded by Alfred Angas Scott (1875 - 1923), born in Manningham, Bradford. A prolific inventor, he took out over 50 patents between 1897 and 1920, mostly concerning two-stroke engines and road vehicles.

Scott was a keen potholer and the history of the Gritstone club of which he was president records "In July 1923 Scott travelled back to Bradford in his open Sociable wearing his wet potholing clothes. He contracted pneumonia which, in the days before antibiotics, proved to be fatal."


After some experiments with one of his engines fitted to a push bike, Scott designed a complete motorcycle from scratch featuring a 450 cc two-stroke twin cylinder engine mounted in a triangulated frame and an ingenious two-speed chain transmission in which the alternative ratios were selected by clutches operated by a rocking foot pedal. Another innovation was a kick start, which he is credited with inventing. The first few machines to his design were produced by Jowett in 1908 and soon after he set up as a manufacturer in his own right.

With their pioneering design Scott motorcycles were successful in many sporting events before World War I including fastest laps at the Isle of Man TT in 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1914 with outright wins at the same event in 1912 and 1913, very valuable publicity in those days. These were specialist racing motorcycles though and Scott's road machines, which by 1912 had grown to 532cc were aimed primarily at the Edwardian gentleman looking for a mechanical alternative to the horse, here the smoothness of the engine and ease with which the two-speed gear could be manipulated won it many customers over the more conventional single cylinder four-stroke machines of the day.

Scott's first sporting model offered to the public was the Squirrel of 1922 which had a slightly smaller 486cc engine to bring it within the 500cc competition limit, but, with aluminium pistons and careful preparation, it produced more power. In addition, many heavy accessories such as foot boards and leg shields which had been fitted to the touring models were dispensed with making for a very light and lively machine. It was successful recipe and the Super Squirrel, with a further revised engine of 498cc or 596cc, soon followed, forming the mainstay of production in the mid 1920's. Although they never regained their pre-war form, Scotts continued to compete successfully in sporting events scoring a 3-4 in the 1922 TT and a third in 1924. A three speed gearbox with conventional clutch was offered from 1923 and in this form the machine had some success as a trials mount.

By the late 1920's the design was starting to fall behind; the last major change had been the introduction of the 'new' Flying Squirrel (the model name had been used before on a tuned version of the Super) in Autumn 1926 for the 1927 season, which standardised the three-speed gearbox in a new duplex frame with a redesigned engine, though still of the same basic layout and 498cc or 596cc displacement. Another third place in the 1928 TT was cause for celebration and the introduction of the TT Replica model which must have helped sales for a season or two.

Scott-TT-Replica of 1930/31

A very limited production luxury three-cylinder model of 747 cc, a 300cc air cooled austerity model - the Lightweight Squirrel, and even a 98cc autocycle - the Cyc-Auto, supplemented various minor variations on the Flying Squirrel theme, such as the Sprint Special and Clubman Special, to maintain customer interest through the 1930's but, when production restarted after World War II, it is perhaps as much a reflection on the British motorcycle industry in general as a tribute to the original design, that the Flying Squirrel had remained substantially unchanged since 1926.

In 1950 the company went into liquidation and was acquired by Matt Holder's Aerco Jig and Tool Company in Birmingham. Aerco initially continued to build the same model - probably assembled from spares, but soon a new frame was designed featuring rear suspension. These 'Brum' Scotts remained available into the 1960's. An attempt was made to introduce a new 493 cc engine with flat top pistons and loop scavenging, but the resulting machine, called the Scott Swift, was not a success.

The Scott Sociable

Alfred Angas Scott left the company in 1915 and after World War 1 formed the Scott Autocar Company in nearby Bradford to make a civilian version of his proposed military 3 wheel motorcycle/car hybrid called the Sociable.

Stationary engines

During the 1930's Scott also produced a series of small industrial or stationary engines, probably seeking new markets to supplement income from falling sales of its increasingly outmoded motorcycles. Some of these were to a greater or lesser extent derived from the motorcycle types - the DSE for instance was a watercooled version of the Lightweight Squirrel engine, while the SE shared bore and stroke dimensions with the longstroke Flyers of the period - but one in particular stands out as an original and very interesting design.

Now generally referred to as the 'PA' from the first two characters of the engine number, the unit was designed in response to a Ministry requirement for a portable generator to supply electrical power to the Bofors anti-aircraft gun and its Kerrison Predictor. In a strange twist of fate, this unit went on to be manufactured during World War II not only by Scott but also by Jowett - the same company which had built the first motorcycles to Alfred Angas' design some thirty years earlier. The engine featured a modern loop scavenge design with two opposed main transfer ports augmented by a third 'boost' port opposite the exhaust. This arrangement, covered by UK patent number 512980 assigned to William Cull and Scott Motors Saltaire Ltd in 1939, is usually assumed to be of post war origin - eg Bossaglia's Two-Stroke High Performance Engine Design & Tuning of 1968 states "this idea has in many cases produced good results and was quickly adopted for motorcycle racing engines and also in power boats after its first appearance in the 125cc MZ in 1957". Scott was clearly not short of design talent it is perhaps a shame more of it wasn't applied to its motorcycles.