Frederick William Barnes collection

Scope and Content

The collection is representative of Barnes's life, including his professional and sporting achievements, and comprises: photographs (inc. family, and military service); British Motor Cycle Racing Club programmes; a De Dion motor tricycle catalogue for 1899; patents (inc. the Gradua gear); newspaper clippings; Brooklands certificates; and a volume of caricatures, Tyresome Tales: told by Shuffrei (London, 1922), depicting various motorcycling personalities of the day (and inc. Barnes).

Administrative / Biographical History

Frederick William Barnes, also known as 'Freddie', seems to have begun his meaningful working life with Messrs Humber Ltd where, for six years, around the turn of the century, he worked in the company's shops and drawing office, reportedly spending time on the production of De Dion motorcycles. Barnes was to become a prominent engineer in his own right with Zenith Motors Ltd, introducing the first sloping top-tube frame to the market c. 1907, followed soon after by his famed Gradua gear. It would appear that Barnes was also associated at some point in his career with the Rex Motor Manufacturing Co Ltd, Coventry, in particular the 'Rex Triette', although details are sparse. Freddie Barnes was a leading competitor of his time; indeed, competition successes numbered in the hundreds and he held many Brooklands racetrack records. He was a member of the British Motor Cycle and Cycle Car Research Association, on the Candidates Committee of the Institution of Automobile Engineers, and served as vice-chairman of the British Motor Cycle Racing Club Committee, as well as having been a founder member of the Club. Malcolm Campbell and Kaye Don numbered amongst his friends, as did Stenson Cooke who, in This Motoring , made reference to Barnes as 'the other fellow'. A member of the Home Guard during the Second World War, Barnes sustained fatal injuries during an air raid on Chichester and died in 1943, leaving behind a widow, daughter, and son. (Source: contemporary records.)

Access Information

Open to researchers, by appointment. For further information, please see:

Archivist's Note

Description created by Thomas Barnes, Aug 2014.

Conditions Governing Use

Please apply to the Archivist if you would like to make any copy of the material.

Custodial History

The collection was formerly held by the National Motor Museum's Reference Library, having been donated by Mrs A Barnes [F W Barnes's widow?] on 30/05/1985, Trust Receipt #TR0456.

Corporate Names