JA Prestwich Industries Ltd
, was a British
engineering company named after founder John Alfred Prestwich
, produced cinematographic equipment, internal combustion
engines (for which the company was generally abbreviated to "J.A.P"), and other examples of precision engineering.
J.A. Prestwich, an engineer, founded the company in 1895, when he was in his early twenties, initially behind his father's house. By 1911 he had moved to a new plant at Northumberland Park
. Prestwich came to be known as much for his creation of cinematography
projectors as his engines. He worked with S.Z. de Ferranti
and later the cinema pioneer William Friese-Greene
The engines were used in many famous motorcycle marques and other devices, such as early aeroplanes , chainsaws, cultivators such as those produced by Howard Rotovators and light rail maintenance trucks The motorcycle engines were associated with racing success and were still used in speedway bikes well into the 1960s. During World War II Prestwich produced around 240,000 industrial petrol engines in support of the war effort, together with millions of aircraft parts, fuses, etc.
After 1945 production was taken over by Villiers Ltd. and the company was completely absorbed by the Villiers Engineering Company in 1964 just as Villiers itself was to be taken over by Manganese Bronze Bearings.
The company's engineering works in Northumberland Park closed in 1963.
Early aircraft were light and basic, and need a reliable and lightweight engine to power them - JAP motorcycle engines were ideal. A JAP engine was used in A V Roe's
1909 triplane, regarded as the first all-British aircraft, and for a while Prestwich and Roe had a partnership. JA Prestwich at first would deliver the same engine to the aircraft manufacturer, allowing them to make local modifications - mainly larger venturi tubes for the carburettor, to allow for greater air intake at altitude. But in the late 1920s/early 1930s JA Prestwich produced various heavier engines under license including those for the UK market for Aeronco
Cinematographic equipment including cameras
, printers, mutoscopes
, cutting and perforating machines, and projectors
(eg the Bioscope
projectors for the Warwick Trading Company
and Charles Urban
) were produced by the company in the early part of the 20th century.
In light of JAP's development of high powered but light engines for speedway, some low volume pre-war car manufacturers, including the Morgan Motor Company
, used JAP engines to power their vehicles.
This use of the JAP extended into motor racing after the Second World War, with most were used in specialist UK lightweight formulas, or more extensively in Formula 3 racing after developments by John Cooper.
In its later life, JA Prestwich also produced components for other vehicle manufacturers, including the cylinder head for the Lotus Cortina and the early versions of Ford based Lotus Elan engine version of Ford's popular car.
From 1904 to 1908 complete motorcycles were produced from the development of the first Overhead Valve motorcycle
engine to be produced in the UK.
After that the factory concentrated on supplying its engines to other manufacturers, including Brough Superior, Triumph Motorcycles and HRD Motorcycles, the forerunner of Vincent Motorcycles. JAP exported significant numbers of engines to foreign motorcycle manufacturers including Dresch and Terrot in France, and Ardie, Hecker and Tornax in Germany.
Latterly, JAP engines (under Villiers control) were used in motorcycle racing, and most commonly speedway or dirt track
J.A. Preswich also made stationary engines under the JAP name for a variety of uses. They ranged in size from the smallest 1a type engine to the much larger type 6 engine, and were used on such things as rotovators, generating sets, milking sets, water pumps, hay elevators and other agricultural machines. They were usually 4-stroke and were usually reliable, and examples can still be seen at vintage rallies around the country.