Birmingham Small Arms Company Ltd

Scope and Content

MSS.19A contains: incomplete series of minutes of committees and board meetings, 1907-45; incomplete series of reports to the Board of BSA, 1907-1960; minutes of Knight and Kilbourne (European) Patents Co., 1913-1925; minutes of the meetings of the Research and Design and Management sections, 1944-1952; copies of the minutes of minutes of the Sales, Research and Design and Management meetings, 1944-1945; financial statistics, including balance sheets, trade accounts, valuations and analyses, 1890-1938; miscellaneous financial files, 1877-1935; correspondence and subject files, 1897-1943; BSA annual reports and publications; miscellaneous publications, 1913-1973; historical works on the BSA, c. 1900-1961; legal and administrative documents, 1873-1956; material relating to personnel matters, 1889-1961; material relating to the BSA's property and works, 1897-1951; internal reports, c. 1906-1920; material relating to technical matters, 1892-1959.

Administrative / Biographical History

On 7 June 1861 the Birmingham Small Arms Trade Association (formed in 1854 by some of the city's master smiths) decided to form a public company, the Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited. Their stated purpose was to make guns by machinery. By 1863 the factory at Small Heath was complete. In 1866 it acquired its munitions factory in Adderley Park, Birmingham. From 1880 it went into bicycle manufacture, making its own designs from 1881. Between 1888 and 1893 it devoted itself solely to production of a new magazine rifle, returning to the cycle industry in 1893 with the manufacture of cycle hubs and other components. In 1906 it took over the National Arms and Ammunition Company's premises in Sparkbrook and acquired the Eadie Manufacturing Co. Ltd. of Redditch in 1907. In 1910 it acquired the Daimler Co. Ltd. of Coventry.

Following concentrated production of the Lee Enfield rifle during World War I and further expansion, in 1918 it put its three main activities under separate management. BSA Cycles Ltd. (at Small Heath and Redditch), BSA Guns Ltd. (small arms work at Small Heath), and BSA Tools Ltd. (at Sparkbrook). Daimler returned to normal production at Coventry. From 1918 it also acquired Burton Griffiths and Co., William Jessop and Sons (1920) and Birtley Co. Ltd. (1939). During the Second World War, New Hudson Ltd., Sunbeam Ltd. and Ariel Motors Ltd. were also to join the Group. A post-war boom in motor cycles meant that BSA Motor Cycles Ltd. was created in 1953 (separate from BSA Cycles Ltd.). In 1951, the Group purchased Triumph Engineering Co. Ltd., and in the mid-1950s, Carbodies of Coventry and the Idoson Motor Cylinder Co. Further companies, such as BSA Broach Co. Ltd. and BSA Small Tools Ltd. were also created from existing BSA companies as designs and production were developed. Daimler was sold to Jaguar Cars Ltd. in 1960. In 1973, BSA was taken over by Manganese Bronze Holdings Ltd., which held Norton Villiers. Norton Villiers and BSA were merged to form NVT Ltd.

Access Information

This collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

Other Finding Aids

Related Material

The Centre also holds records of Norton Villiers Triumph (NVT) Limited and separately deposited memorandum and articles of association of BSA.