The history of Norton can be traced all the way back to 1898, when Birmingham-born James Lansdowne Norton founded the Norton Manufacturing Company in the city to produce bicycle chains. Four years later, the firm started to build motorbikes, buying in engines from overseas.
However, Norton was a better engineer than he was an administrator, with the firm finding itself on the verge of insolvency in 1913. It was saved by one of its creditors, forming Norton Motors Limited, which secured a government contract to supply the Russian army with engines during the First World War.
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