A Swift 'Safety' cycle of the late 1880s as built by the Coventry Machinists Company

Swift was the name given to a company in Coventry that began making cycles, and later, motorised transport.

The company’s origins go back to the 1860s when they were at that time known as the Coventry Machinists Company – a business concerned with the production of Sewing Machines. In late 1868, they began the manufacture of velocipedes of French design, one of the first in Great Britain to do so on a commercial basis. At this time, some of those employed at the company would later become prominent figures in the cycle trade in Coventry including James Starley, William Hillman, George Singer and a host of others.

As the years went by, the Coventry Machinists Company reduced their interest in Sewing Machines and instead focussed on the design and manufacture of their own cycles, initially making improvements to the early velocipedes to the ‘Safety’ type machines which became available towards the end of the 1880s.

Many of their cycles were sold under the ‘Swift’ trade name, and by 1897, the company was re-registered as the Swift Cycle Company Ltd. At around the same time, they began making motorised tricycles, and by 1904, a motorcycle.

a few years prior to this in the year 1900, they registered a new company known as the Swift Motor Co., as their interest in motorised transport gathered pace, whilst continuing to supply cycles. Yet by 1915, they took the decision to cease the manufacture of motorcycles, and instead concentrate on the manufacture of motor cars.

After the conclusion of WWI, in 1919 the company was renamed yet again to Swift of Coventry Ltd, making 12hp models, and in the 1920s, the handsome 14/40. The company lasted until 1931, with the ‘Cadet’ and ‘Paladin’ models being two of their final offerings.
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