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This system of group contracting by the Birmingham trade continued for 150 years, during which time enormous quantities of firearms were supplied not only to the British Government but also to foreign armies; in fact, in the period of war which ended with Waterloo it is estimated that the 7,000 people employed in the city were producing weapons at the rate of 525,000 a year.Although after the Napoleonic Wars Government orders naturally declined, Birmingham still manufactured immense numbers of complete weapons in addition to supplying barrels and locks to gunmakers in all parts of the country.By 1909 they were offering a number of motorcycles for sale and in 1910 BSA purchased the British Daimler Company for its automobile engines.During World War I, the company returned to arms manufacture and greatly expanded its operations.
Finally, at a meeting of members of the Birmingham Small Arms Trade in June, 1861, it was resolved to form a company, "The Birmingham Small Arms Company", to manufacture euns by machinery. The Cabinet, suddenly fearful lest Britain become involved in the Austro-Prussian war, decided that the whole army must be equipped with breech-loading weapons. muzzle-loading rifle had triumphed in the Queen's prize at the National Rifle Association meeting, then held at Wimbledon. Work on this order had not begun because of last minute alterations to the design. could supply 20,000 in the stipulated period and a further 48,000 in the following year.The motorcycle business was hard hit - plans to rescue and combine Norton, BSA and Triumph failed in the face of worker resistance and Norton's and BSA's factories were shut-down, while Triumph staggered on to fail four years later. Enjoying the rights to the BSA marque, it was bought-out by the management and renamed the BSA Company. A post-war boom in motor cycles meant that BSA Motor Cycles Ltd. In 1973, BSA was taken over by Manganese Bronze Holdings Ltd., which held Norton Villiers.In 1991 BSA Company merged with Andover Norton International Ltd., to form a new BSA Group, largely producing spare parts for existing motorcycles. During the Second World War, New Hudson Ltd., Sunbeam Ltd. was created in 1953 (separate from BSA Cycles Ltd.). were also created from existing BSA companies as designs and production were developed. Norton Villiers and BSA were merged to form NVT Ltd. Return to: THE GROWTH OF AN INDUSTRY BIRMINGHAM has for centuries been the centre of the country's small arms trade.In the summer of 1855 Enfield had started to produce weapons by machinery, and by the time peace was declared in April, 1856, it had attained output of more than 2,000 rifles and carbines a week; thenceforward its activities had a progressively adverse effect on the trade of Birmingham. It was in the summer of 1866, just five years after its formation, the company received its first British Government contract.The city's gunsmiths continued to preach the gospel of the hand-made weapon, but inevitably it was a losing struggle. It was not for new rifles but for the conversion within 20 months of 100,000 muzzle-loaders into breech- loading weapons on the principle evolved by Snider, a Dutch-American wine merchant.