Jack Sangster

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Jack Sangster
John Young Sangster.jpg
Born John Young Sangster
(1896-05-29)29 May 1896
Kings Norton, Worcestershire,[1] England
Died 26 March 1977(1977-03-26) (aged 80)
Belgravia, London, England
Residence England, UK
Nationality British
Education Hurstpierpoint College
Occupation Motorcycle manufacturer
Years active 1918–1961
Children Heather Sangster

John Young Sangster (29 May 1896 – 26 March 1977) was a British industrialist and philanthropist. More commonly known as Jack Sangster, he became an important figure in the history of the British motorcycle industry, having been involved in the major marques of Ariel, BSA and Triumph.

Early life[edit]

Sangster was born in Kings Norton, Worcestershire,[2] England, the second son of three born to Charles Thomas Brock Sangster, an engineer and the owner of Cycle Components Ltd, better known since 1902 as the motorcycle brand Ariel.

After his education at Hurstpierpoint College, Sussex, he started an engineering apprenticeship which was interrupted by the First World War. During the war, Sangster served with the City of Birmingham battalion of the 14th Royal Warwickshire Regiment. His elder brother Fredrick Charles Sangster was killed in action during 1916.[3]


The Rover 8

In 1918 Sangster joined the Cycle Components Manufacturing Company, of which his father was managing director. Sangster designed a small low cost car which he began manufacturing. The design of the car was later sold to the Rover Company in Coventry, with Sangster joining Rover to manage the production of the car which became the Rover 8 model.

In 1923 Sangster returned to his father's company, and by 1930 was joint managing director with him. In 1932 Cycle Components went bust, and Sangster bought most of the companies assets from the receivers, to start a new company called Ariel Motors. Sangster rebuilt the company using the wealth of design and engineering talent employed by the company, which included Val Page, Bert Hopwood and later Edward Turner.

Sangster developed a motorcycle with a 4 hp White and Poppe engine which proved extremely successful.[citation needed] Jack increased the range of motorcycles to include 586 cc and 992 cc machines setting the standard for the competition.[citation needed]

Triumph Engineering logo

Sangster seized another business opportunity in 1936 when he bought the financially struggling Triumph Cycles company, naming the new business Triumph Engineering Co. He brought-in Edward Turner from Ariel to improve Triumph's product range. The Triumph Speed Twin with a parallel-twin engine designed by Turner was introduced in 1938, being the basis of a line of successful Triumph motorcycles until the early 1980s.[4]

In 1944 Sangster sold Ariel to the BSA company for a considerable profit, followed in 1951 by the sale of Triumph to BSA for £2.5 million, which was a good return on the £50,000 he invested in buying Triumph in 1936.

Sangster joined the board of BSA following their acquisition of Triumph. He became chairman of BSA in 1956, following a series of board room battles which ousted the previous chairman Sir Bernard Docker. He then appointed Turner as Chief Executive of the Automotive Division (comprising BSA, Ariel, Triumph, Daimler and Carbodies – makers of London taxicabs). Sangster retired as chairman of BSA in 1961.

He took in two London evacuees, Gordon & Jean Rookledge, in 1944.[5] He declined a peerage in 1962.[citation needed]

Jack Sangster died in Belgravia, London, from cancer on 26 March 1977.[6]


  1. ^ Did not become part of Birmingham until 1911 - "Greater Birmingham Act"
  2. ^ Did not become part of Birmingham until 1911 - "Greater Birmingham Act"
  3. ^ [1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  4. ^ Motorcycle Mechanics (magazine), June 1973, p.80/83. Motorcycle Masterpieces: Triumph's Twin. "The climax came in 1936 when it looked as though the factory would have to close down. At the last moment it was bought out by J.Y.Sangster who owned Ariel, and Triumph Engineering Co was born ". Accessed 2014-03-12
  5. ^ http://www.rookledge.com/
  6. ^ England and Wales Death records Retrieved 2014-03-12

External links[edit]