By: John Rosamond, new book, minor shelfwear
There is no more famous motorcycle than the Triumph Bonneville, the Bonnie, "the best motorcycle in the world," and the Meriden factory producing this icon was a personal Mecca to fans of the marque. Film stars such as Steve McQueen visited Meriden for their Triumphs. But on the brink of what should have been its biggest ever sales season, the BSA parent company dramatically collapsed. The Conservative government reacted, and Norton-Villiers-Triumph was created. The new owners decided to close down Meriden ... so the workers locked them out.
There followed protracted political negotiations, affected all the while by national government changes, ministers’ attitudes, national and international economic conditions and, throughout all this, the world's continuing desire for the Triumph.
As much a study of changing sociopolitical attitudes as of an economically traumatic time for both Triumph and the country, socialist John Rosamond's unique position within the workers’ co-operative makes this work a fascinating account of a story never before told from the inside. The reversal of his role from worker to chairman brought with it new responsibilities, bringing home to him the passion that employees, customers and dealers had for Triumph, and how that could keep Meriden from closing and the Bonneville in production. During all these desperate struggles, the Triumph Bonneville became the best-selling motorcycle of its class, winning the coveted Motor Cycle News Motorcycle of The Year award at the end of the seventies. Yet within just a few years of this, Meriden and the Bonnie were finally gone.
All the rescue attempts, the lifesaving international orders, and the negotiations for a reprieve with the new Thatcher government are covered here in unique detail, as is the introduction of new models that Meriden hoped would attract a 'white knight'.
Lavishly illustrated with never-before-seen photographs from the personal collections of the factory's workers, this inside-story of Triumph's last years at Meriden is the definitive history of the most famous of the Tony Benn worker's co-operatives.
- A unique account of a workforce taking over the factory to save the world's most famous motorcycle, the Triumph Bonneville
- Written by the welder who became chairman of the workers' board of directors
- The most controversial chapter in the history of Triumph and the British motorcycle industry
- The most famous of Labour's/Tony Benn's workers' co-operatives
- John Rosamond was at Meriden under BSA, Triumph, NVT and the Triumph co-op until the bitter end
- An integral part of the decision-making process, John witnessed the final negotiations to save Triumph
- John was the public face of Meriden, often featured in the contemporary press
- This part of Triumph's story has never before been written firsthand
- Previously unpublished photographs from the personal collections of the Meriden workers
- 2009 coincides with the 50th anniversary of the legendary Bonneville