Frodsham Swans and Cygnets

THE Cheshire village of Frodsham may have several claims to fame, but it is hardly a place one associates with the history of motor-cycling. Yet, prior to the First World War, it was the birthplace of Swans and Cygnets! Not that they ever took to water – they were never intended to.

Swans and Cygnets were motor-cycles, manufactured at a little factory in High Street, by the Swan Motor Manufacturing Company (later called ‘Cygnet Motors’) and such was their impact that one Swan motor-cycle was exhibited at the Olympia Motor Show, in London, in 1911.

The Swan was an open-frame machine, equipped, not only with a gear box, but with front and rear springing, almost unheard of at that time. It also had an ‘all-chain drive’ when belts were the norm. Later, many innovations were incorporated, including a much lighter steel alloy frame.

The company was owned and managed by Mr F.H.Thornton who lived across the road from the factory, in the Manor House, then called ‘Deyne Court’.

A team of three ‘Swans’, one ridden by Mr Thornton himself, took part in the A.C.U. International Six Days’ Trial, in Somerset and Devon, in 1912, and with their open frames and ‘pan’ seats attracted considerable attention.

They all performed admirably during a rain-lashed week and one, ridden by M.Garrey, completed with 925 points, ensuring that a ‘Swan’ gained a Silver Medal.

Sadly, the little Frodsham company soon went into decline. Apparently, Mr Thornton had been away on business, only to return to find that his employees had been working a ‘fiddle’, selling bits and pieces stolen from the works.
Such was the owner’s chagrin that he immediately closed the works, sacked the entire staff and buried what Swan parts remained in a hole on the site.

And so came to an end Frodsham’s brief but fascinating sojourn into the world of motor-cycling.