JA Prestwich Industries
|Headquarters||Northumberland Park, London|
|Key people||John Alfred Prestwich|
JA Prestwich Industries, was an English engineering company named after founder John Alfred Prestwich, which produced cinematographic equipment, internal combustion engines (for which the company was generally abbreviated to "J.A.P."), and other examples of precision engineering.
J. A. Prestwich, an engineer, founded the company in 1895, when he was in his early twenties, initially behind his father's house at 1 Lansdowne Road, Tottenham, London. By 1911 he had moved to new premises in Northumberland Park Road, N.17 The front elevation of this, with its distinctive facade and company logo, was demolished in 2012 to make way for a J.Sainsbury shop, part of the Tottenham Hotspur Redevelopment Scheme. Prestwich came to be known as much for his creation of cinematography projectors as his engines. He worked with S.Z. de Ferranti and later the cinema pioneer William Friese-Greene.
The engines were used in many famous motorcycle marques and other devices, such as early aeroplanes, chainsaws, cultivators such as those produced by Howard Rotovators, and light rail maintenance trucks. The motorcycle engines were associated with racing success and were still used in speedway bikes well into the 1960s. During WWII Prestwich produced around 240,000 industrial petrol engines in support of the war effort, together with millions of aircraft parts, fuses, etc.
After 1945 production was taken over by Villiers Ltd. and the company was completely absorbed by the Villiers Engineering Company in 1957 just as Villiers itself was to be taken over by Manganese Bronze Bearings.
The company's engineering works in Northumberland Park closed in 1963.
Early aircraft were light and basic, and need a reliable and lightweight engine to power them. JAP motorcycle engines were often used in this application. A JAP engine was used in A V Roe's 1909 triplane, regarded as the first all-British aircraft, and for a while Prestwich and Roe had a partnership. JA Prestwich at first would deliver the same engine to the aircraft manufacturer, allowing them to make local modifications – mainly larger venturi tubes for the carburettor, to allow for greater air intake at altitude. But in the late 1920s/early 1930s JA Prestwich produced various heavier engines under licence, including those for the UK market for Aeronca.
Cinematographic equipment including cameras, printers, mutoscopes, cutting and perforating machines, and projectors, such as the Bioscope projectors for the Warwick Trading Company and Charles Urban, were produced by the company in the early part of the 20th century.
JAP engines were extensively used in cyclecars in the 1910 to 1914 period when they were very popular with large numbers of small manufacturers. In 1914 JAP announced a new engine made specifically for the cyclecar, which was a V-twin of 90mm bore and 85mm stroke (1082cc). The engine had a larger flywheel than the motorcycle engine and an enclosed magento drive. The engine was illustrated fitted to a Morgan three-wheeler.
In light of JAP's development of high powered but light engines for speedway, some low volume pre-war car manufacturers, including G.N., T.B., Morgan Motor Company and Reliant, used JAP engines to power their vehicles.
In its later life, JA Prestwich also produced components for other vehicle manufacturers, including the cylinder head for the Lotus Cortina and the early versions of the Ford-based Lotus Elan engine.
After that the factory concentrated on supplying its engines to other manufacturers, including Brough Superior, Triumph Motorcycles, A. J. Stevens & Co. Ltd, Enfield Cycle Co, Hazlewoods Limited, Zenith Motorcycles, and HRD Motorcycles, the forerunner of Vincent Motorcycles. Machines that incorporated its engines included the AJS Model D, fabricated for the Russians in the First World War.
J.A. Prestwich also made stationary engines under the JAP name for a variety of uses. They ranged in size from the smallest model 0 two stroke engine to the much larger type 6 engine, and were used on such things as rotovators, generating sets, milking sets, water pumps, lawnmowers,hay elevators and other agricultural machines. They were usually 4-stroke but they made some 2 stroke engines such as the model 0 and they were quite reliable, examples can still be seen at vintage rallies around the country and are common to find.
J.A.P. also had a factory in Chelmsford Road, Southgate, London, employing some 40–50 people, where these engines were being made in 1955.
- JAP Motorcycles
- Jim Lewis 1999, J.A.Prestwich-Tottenham's Prolific Inventor, Ch 18 of London's Lea Valley, Phillimore, ISBN 1-86077-100-9
- Lotus Twin-Cam Engine, p. 29, at Google Books
- The Villiers Engineering Company
- Aircraft Engines – Make, Model and Manufacturers Summary
- Who's Who of Victorian Cinema
- "J.A.P. Engines for 1915", The Motor Cycle magazine, 22nd Oct 1914, p461
- Morgan, the World's Leading 3-Wheeler: Engine Page
- 8W – When? – 1955 British GP
- 'Ford Cortina-Lotus'
- The Complete Motorcycle Compendium – J
- Half The Wheels, Twice The Fun – Popular Mechanics
- Triumph Motorcycles Timeline: The Early Years, 1883–1918
- My Vincent HRD Website – History
- "A. J. Stevens & Company (1914) Limited". Retrieved 2009-05-28.
- History of Dresch motorcycles
- List of Ardie motorcycles
- List of Hecker motorcycles
- England Test dirt-track motorcyclist, Jack Wotton, on his JAP (JA Prestwich) engined bike[dead link]
- "Wickham Motor Trolley". South Devon Railway. April 5, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to J.A.P. engines.|
- A brief history of JA Prestwich/JAP
- Who's who in Victorian cinema
- JAP Speedway engines – a history
- Company history