Norton Motorcycles comes riding back home to the West Midlands

Motorcycle maker Norton is opening a new headquarters following a multi-million pound investment by its Indian owner TVS Motor.

Norton, which was bought out of administration last April, has said Solar Park in Solihull will be home to the ‘most advanced manufacturing facility’ in its history and house all its employees.

The move brings it back to its West Midlands roots, with the new premises situated less than 10 miles from where company founder and British motorcycling pioneer James Lansdowne Norton started making bike parts.

Norton has said the Commando Classic model will be among the motorcycles it produces at its new Solihull base. The bike was a major seller during the late 1960s and 1970s

It means that Norton will no longer have any operations at Donington Hall, the Leicestershire mansion house where the group’s headquarters were formerly located, close to the Donington Park motorsport circuit.

Among the vehicles Norton says it will produce in Solihull are the Commando Classic model, which was a major seller during the late 1960s and 1970s, and the limited edition V4SS superbike.

TVS Motors’ Joint Managing Director Sudarshan Venu stated that the ‘new headquarters represents a significant step forward’ for the brand and ‘will create the foundations for a sustainable long-term future of Norton.’

‘2020 has been a tough year for the world, but we are excited to be moving into our new home, and we are delighted this has been created by the Norton and TVS teams in just nine months.

‘This new facility underpinned by strong quality processes will produce bikes truly worthy of the illustrious Norton brand and take it into the future.’

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street called the bike maker’s move to Solihull ‘a real vote of confidence in our region as we look to recover from the pandemic.

Norton was brought out of administration 12 months ago by Indian-based TVS Motor

‘It speaks volumes to the strides the West Midlands has taken forward in recent years that Norton has chosen to come home after more than a decade based outside the region.’

Founded in 1898, the firm became one of the world’s most iconic motorcycle makers and was a familiar presence at prestigious racing events like the Isle of Man TT, whose inaugural event saw Rem Fowler win the twin cylinder class on a Norton bike.

Fans of the brand have included the actors Clint Eastwood and Keanu Reeves, and the guerrilla leader Che Guevara, who wrote about his journey on a Norton bike in his memoir The Motorcycle Diaries.

A vintage 1962 Norton 650 SS. Founded in 1898, Norton became one of the world’s most iconic motorcycle makers globally and was a familiar presence at racing events like the Isle of Man TT

Norton manufactured around a quarter of all motorcycles used by the British military during World War II, but struggled financially afterwards despite the popularity of its Commando range, and it went through a variety of owners.

Businessman Stuart Garner bought the group in 2008 and it received high praise over the years from politicians such as former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne as well as millions of pounds in public funding.

However, it filed for administration 12 months ago over unpaid taxes. The Pensions Ombudsman later ruled that Garner had ‘acted dishonestly and in breach of his duty’ in his role as a pension scheme trustee.

Garner tried to appeal the ruling, but this was refused by the court and he was ordered to pay about £14million that was missing from the company’s employee retirement fund.