1920 Macklum Motorette Scooter 292cc

1920 Macklum Motorette Scooter 292cc

(Now sold)

After buying this extrememly rare scooter in 2008, I was stumped as there was no information about it on the internet. But then I remembered that some years before, while doing research at the VMCC headquarters, I scanned The Buyer’s Guide for 1920, which appeared in The Motor Cycle magazine reviewing the 1919 Olympia Show.

Sure enough, there was the Macklum in all its glory. One of only two printed references I’m aware of. I reproduced the Guide further down the page. I sold the Macklum to a scooter museum.

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F. MacCALLUM

Guildhall Buildings, Birmingham


ALFRED WISEMAN & Co Ltd

Glover St, Birmingham

‘Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, Ironfounders, Machinists and Contractors’

The Macklum was in production for only two years. Mr. F. MacCallum designed it, and it was manufactured by Alfred Wiseman & Co, the company that made Sirrah and Verus Motorcycles. Wiseman built motorcycles in the early 1920s (Tragatsch says 1922–1925) using a variety of proprietary engines from the likes of Blackburne, Bradshaw, JAP and Union as well as some of its own manufacture. A single frame design capable of accommodating various different power units was a Sirrah hallmark, and its manufacturer claimed that the Sirrah would ‘stand up against bad weather, bad roads, bad treatment, and win through every time.’

Though Alfred Wiseman & Co stopped making motorcycles in 1925, the company continued as Alfred Wiseman Gears, supplying industrial and railway gear components. Below is a post WW2 company brochure, illustrating their components for trams and trolley buses.

The company was associated with Ruston & Hornsby of Lincoln (locomotives), and the MWD (Modern Wheel Drive) gearbox, which was used in the WW2 tank landing craft. The Wiseman & Co gear business was apparently taken over by EE Diesels (locomotive manufacturers).

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THE MACKLUM ENGINE – no. 5037

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MACKLUM v AUTOGLIDER

Compare the contemporary 1921 Autoglider below, which had a  similar design and 292cc Union engine.

Two more comparison photos, first the Macklum and, below it, an Autoglider:

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MACKLUM PETROL TANK

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ORIGINAL HANDLEBAR LEVERS

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FRONT SUSPENSION & FRONT WHEEL


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LEG-SHIELD & RUNNING BOARDS

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LEAF-SPRING UNDERNEATH

I was amazed when I looked underneath the Macklum and observed the leaf spring suspension.

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The MACKLUM’S UNIQUE SADDLE DESIGN

Another innovative design feature is the saddle. From above it doesn’t look that special. But take a look underneath:

Some designers made more money by patenting designs such as this saddle than from an actual vehicle.

The rear end of the scooter, with its ‘pyramid’ seat support is another unique styling feature.

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The Autoped, which made its debut during WW1, was the world’s first motor scooter (see Page 29). Once the War was over, motorcycle production resumed in earnest, with many important lessons learned from wartime manufacture.

The first postwar show was in 1919 at Olympia (t0 which this 1920 guide refers), and 112 motorcycle manufacturers were represented. Many were small companies assembling from proprietary components with their own badge on the tank. By the end of the twenties there were 300 motorcycle manufacturers. It was in this climate of invention, mechanical innovation and marketing optimism that machines such as the Macklum made their debut. This was the first era of motor scooters.

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The Forward Radiator Co, of Bristol St, Birmingham, was founded in February 1919; it was acquired by Mulliners of Birmingham (coachbuilders) in February 1958.