George Singer (1847-1909)

George Singer was a key figure concerning Coventry’s early involvement with cycle manufacture.

Born in Dorset in 1847, like William Hillman, Singer apprenticed in Marine Engineering at Greenwich before moving to Coventry in the late 1860s. Working under Josiah Turner and James Starley at the Coventry Machinists Company, Singer gained a wealth of experience in the new cycle trade.

In 1873 he left the Coventry Machinists to secure a higher position at the Paragon Cycle Co., a much smaller business but one that was concerned completely with cycle production, unlike his former employers who still maintained the part-production of sewing-machines.

Singer met and married Elizabeth Stringer the following year, and soon after established his own cycle business – Singer & Co. Ltd. in partnership with father-in-law James Stringer making ‘Ordinary’ or ‘Penny-Farthing’ type cycles as well as tricycles of high quality under the ‘Challenge’ name.

Through the 1880s he became increasingly wealthy and by 1890 he had a grand house built for him and his growing family, naming the house ‘Coundon Court’. In 1891 he became Mayor of Coventry, a position he held for a further three years.

In motoring terms, although the name Singer became famed in motor car production, the only real involvement George Singer would have had concerned the acquisition of the Perks and Birch motor-wheel in 1900.

George Singer retired however retired shortly afterwards and died at Coundon Court in 1909, yet his name lived on in transport until 1970 when the last Singer car was made.

Coundon Court still stands today, forming part of one of Coventry’s largest comprehensive schools.
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