JA Prestwich Industries Ltd
JA Prestwich Industries, was an English engineering company named after founder John Alfred Prestwich
John Alfred Prestwich
John Alfred Prestwich was an English engineer and inventor. He founded the company JA Prestwich Industries Ltd in 1895 and was a pioneer in the early development of cinematography projectors and cameras. The company also manufactured its famous JAP engines.He worked with S.Z...

, which produced cinematographic equipment, internal combustion engines (for which the company was generally abbreviated to "J.A.P."), and other examples of precision engineering
Precision engineering
Precision engineering is a subdiscipline of electrical engineering, electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, and optical engineering concerned with designing machines, fixtures, and other structures that have exceptionally low tolerances, are repeatable, and are stable over time...



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
Tottenham is an area of the London Borough of Haringey, England, situated north north east of Charing Cross.-Toponymy:Tottenham is believed to have been named after Tota, a farmer, whose hamlet was mentioned in the Domesday Book; hence Tota's hamlet became Tottenham...

. By 1911 he had moved to a new plant at Tariff Road, Northumberland Park
Northumberland Park, London
Northumberland Park is a suburb near Tottenham, in Haringey, London, England. It is served by Northumberland Park railway station....

, Tottenham. Prestwich came to be known as much for his creation of cinematography
Cinematography is the making of lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for cinema. It is closely related to the art of still photography...

 projectors as his engines. He worked with S.Z. de Ferranti
Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti
Sebastian Pietro Innocenzo Adhemar Ziani de Ferranti was an electrical engineer and inventor.-Personal life:...

 and later the cinema pioneer William Friese-Greene
William Friese-Greene
William Friese-Greene was a British portrait photographer and prolific inventor. He is principally known as a pioneer in the field of motion pictures and is credited by some as the inventor of cinematography.-Career:William Edward Green was born on 7 September 1855, in Bristol...


The engines were used in many famous motorcycle marques and other devices, such as early aeroplanes, chainsaw
A chainsaw is a portable mechanical saw, powered by electricity, compressed air, hydraulic power, or most commonly a two-stroke engine...

s, cultivator
A cultivator is any of several types of farm implement used for secondary tillage. One sense of the name refers to frames with teeth that pierce the soil as they are dragged through it linearly. Another sense refers to machines that use rotary motion of disks or teeth to accomplish a similar result...

s 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
Motorcycle speedway
Motorcycle speedway, usually referred to as speedway, is a motorcycle sport involving four and sometimes up to six riders competing over four anti-clockwise laps of an oval circuit. Speedway motorcycles use only one gear and have no brakes and racing takes place on a flat oval track usually...

 bikes well into the 1960s. During the Second World War 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 1964 just as Villiers itself was to be taken over by Manganese Bronze Bearings
Manganese Bronze
Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC is an engineering company based in Coventry, England. Since the sale of its components division in 2003 the company has only one operating division—LTI Limited, trading as The London Taxi Company—which manufactures and retails London Black Taxis.The London...


The company's engineering works in Northumberland Park closed in 1963.

Aircraft engines

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 camera
A camera is a device that records and stores images. These images may be still photographs or moving images such as videos or movies. The term camera comes from the camera obscura , an early mechanism for projecting images...

s, printers, mutoscope
frame|right|An 1899 trade advertisementThe Mutoscope was an early motion picture device, patented by Herman Casler on November 21, 1894. Like Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope it did not project on a screen, and provided viewing to only one person at a time...

s, cutting and perforating machines, and projectors
Movie projector
A movie projector is an opto-mechanical device for displaying moving pictures by projecting them on a projection screen. Most of the optical and mechanical elements, except for the illumination and sound devices, are present in movie cameras.-Physiology:...

 (eg the Bioscope projectors for the Warwick Trading Company
Warwick Trading Company
The Warwick Trading Company was formed in 1898 out of the British branch of the American firm Maguire and Baucus. It was the leading film producer in Britain at the turn of the century, specialising in actuality, travel and reportage. The managing director was Charles Urban. He left the company in...

 and Charles Urban
Charles Urban
Charles Urban was an Anglo-American film producer and distributor, and one of the most significant figures in British cinema before the First World War...

) were produced by the company in the early part of the 20th century.

Motorcar engines

In light of JAP's development of high powered but light engines for speedway, some low volume pre-war car manufacturers, including the Morgan Motor Company
Morgan Motor Company
The Morgan Motor Company is a British motor car manufacturer. The company was founded in 1910 by Harry Frederick Stanley Morgan, generally known as "HFS" and was run by him until he died, aged 77, in 1959. Peter Morgan, son of H.F.S., ran the company until a few years before his death in 2003...

 and Reliant
Reliant was a British car manufacturer. The company was traditionally based at Tamworth in Staffordshire, England, but in 2001 it moved to nearby Cannock. It ceased manufacturing cars shortly afterwards.-History:...

, used JAP engines to power their vehicles.

This use of the JAP extended into motor racing after the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, with most were used in specialist UK lightweight formulas, or more extensively in Formula 3 racing after developments by John Cooper
John Cooper (car maker)
John Newton Cooper was a co-founder, with his father Charles Cooper, of the Cooper Car Company. Born in Surbiton, Surrey, England, UK he became an auto racing legend with his rear-engined chassis design that would eventually change the face of the sport at its highest levels, from Formula One to...


In its later life, JA Prestwich also produced components for other vehicle manufacturers, including the cylinder head for the Lotus Cortina
Lotus Cortina
The Lotus-Cortina is a high-performance car, which was produced in the United Kingdom from 1963 to 1970 by the Ford in collaboration with Lotus Cars. The original version, which was based on the Ford Cortina Mark 1, was promoted by Ford as the "Consul Cortina developed by Lotus", with "Consul"...

 and the early versions of the Ford-based Lotus Elan
Lotus Elan
Lotus Elan is the name of two convertible cars and one fixed head coupé produced by Lotus Cars. The original Type 26, 26R Racing version , 36R Racing version , 36 Fixed Head Coupe, 45 Drop Head Coupe, and the "Type 50" +2 Coupe, circa 1962 to 1975, are commonly known as the '60s Elans...



From 1904 to 1908 complete motorcycles were produced from the development of the first overhead valve motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

 engine to be produced in the UK.

After that the factory concentrated on supplying its engines to other manufacturers, including Brough Superior
Brough Superior
Brough Superior motorcycles, sidecars, and motor cars were made by George Brough in his Brough Superior works on Haydn Road in Nottingham, England, from 1919 to 1940. They were dubbed the "Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles" by H. D. Teague of The Motor Cycle newspaper. Approximately 3,048 of 19 models...

, Triumph Motorcycles, A. J. Stevens & Co. Ltd
AJS was the name used for cars and motorcycles made by the Wolverhampton, England, company A. J. Stevens & Co. Ltd, from 1909 to 1931, by then holding 117 motorcycle world records, and after the firm was sold the name continued to be used by Matchless, Associated Motorcycles and Norton-Villiers on...

, and HRD Motorcycles
HRD Motorcycles
HRD Motors Ltd was a British motorcycle manufacturer in the 1920s. It was founded by Howard Raymond Davies. He had worked in motorcycling, and had raced with some success in the mid-twenties, but often not finishing due to unreliability. This inspired him to build a reliable performance motorcycle,...

, the forerunner of Vincent Motorcycles
Vincent Motorcycles
Vincent Motorcycles was a British manufacturer of motorcycles from 1928 to 1955. Their 1948 Black Shadow was at the time the world's fastest production motorcycle...

. Machines that incorporated its engines included the AJS Model D
AJS Model D
The AJS Model D is a British motorcycle made by A. J. Stevens & Co. Ltd in Wolverhampton between 1912 and 1925. With production halted by the First World War AJS managed to develop the Model D into a popular sidecar machine and it was eventually replaced by the larger capacity AJS Model...

, fabricated for the Russians in the First World War.

JAP exported significant numbers of engines to foreign motorcycle manufacturers including Dresch
Dresch was a motorcycle manufacturer in Étampes, France founded by Henri Dresch in 1923. The company's products ranged from 98cc single-cylinder machines to a 750cc four-cylinder model. Dresch used proprietary engines from various suppliers including Aubier Dunne, Chaise, JAP, MAG, Stainless and...

 and Terrot
Terrot was a motorcycle manufacturer in Dijon, France.Charles Terrot and Wilhelm Stücklen had founded a machinery factory in Cannstatt, Germany in 1862, and Terrot added a branch factory in Dijon in 1887, and in 1890 the Dijon factory added bicycles to its products.In 1902 the Dijon factory made...

 in France, and Ardie
Ardie was a company in Nürnberg, Germany that manufactured motorcycles from 1919 until 1958. The company's name derives from that of its founder, Arno Dietrich....

, Hecker
- People :* Andrew Hecker, American Television Director WOW!, GLOW, Infomercials* Chris Hecker, game programmer* Ewald Hecker , German psychiatrist, originator of the concept of hebephrenia* Klemen Hecker, a truly leet hecker...

 and Tornax
Tornax was a motorcycle manufacturer in Wuppertal, Germany.Tornax built its first motorcycle in 1926. This was the model I-26, which has a 600 cc single-cylinder side-valve engine imported from JAP in London, England producing 15 bhp...

 in Germany.

Latterly, JAP engines (under Villiers
Villiers Engineering
Villiers Engineering was a manufacturer of motorcycles and cycle parts, and an engineering company based in Villiers Street, Wolverhampton, England....

 control) were used in motorcycle racing, and most commonly speedway
Motorcycle speedway
Motorcycle speedway, usually referred to as speedway, is a motorcycle sport involving four and sometimes up to six riders competing over four anti-clockwise laps of an oval circuit. Speedway motorcycles use only one gear and have no brakes and racing takes place on a flat oval track usually...

 or dirt track

Stationary engines

J.A. Prestwich also made stationary engines under the JAP name for a variety of uses. They ranged in size from the smallest 1a type engine to the much larger type 6 engine, and were used on such things as rotovators, generating sets, milking sets, water pumps, hay elevators and other agricultural machines. They were usually 4-stroke and were usually reliable, and examples can still be seen at vintage rallies around the country.

J.A.P. also had a factory in Chelmsford Road, Southgate, London
Southgate, London
Southgate is an area of north London, England, primarily within the London Borough of Enfield, although parts of its western fringes lie within the London Borough of Barnet. It is located around north of Charing Cross. The name is derived from being the south gate to Enfield Chase...

, employing some 40–50 people, where these engines were being made in 1955.

External links

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