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Henry Sturmey (1857-1930)

Henry Sturmey was a cycle and automobile writer and promoter in Coventry from the 1880s.

Christened John James Henry Sturmey, he was born in 1857 in Somerset. His first career path was as a schoolmaster, specialising in mathematics and science, but his passion for cycling ultimately led him in a very different direction.

In 1877 he wrote the book ‘Indispensible’ Bicyclist’s Handbook, which was published by the Coventry printer William Iliffe. A friendship was developed between the two men, resulting in a new weekly periodical called the Cyclist. In 1895 Sturmey introduced another periodical, The Autocar which he also edited - today this is the oldest surviving car magazine in the world.

He became an associate of Harry J. Lawson, and invested heavily in one of Lawson’s early motoring companies – the Great Horseless Carriage Company, and later replaced Lawson as Chairman of the Daimler Motor Company. As Editor of The Autocar, Sturmey saw to it that such companies of interest were well advertised.

In 1896, he briefly joined forces with Edward J. Pennington with the release of the Pennington-Sturmey motor bicycle. In 1897 Sturmey successfully drove a Coventry built Daimler with Mulliner body (of which he himself designed) from John o’ Groats to Lands End in order to promote the Daimler Company and demonstrate the cars durability. He split from Iliffe in 1901 when it became apparent that his outside business interests conflicted with his role as Editor of the Autocar.

In 1902 he set up the British Duryea Company building American Duryea designed cars under licence. He was also later involved in a number of other companies in Coventry including Sturmey Motors Ltd, Lotis, and Bramco Ltd.

In 1903 he established another long standing magazine and rival to the Autocar – the Motor, and was involved in the development of the Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub gear.

Sturmey never married and died in 1930 at his home in Coventry.
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