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Save the Triumph Bonneville! - The Inside Story of the Meriden Workers' Co-op

There is no more famous motorcycle than the Triumph Bonneville, the Bonnie, 'the best motorcycle in the world', and the Meriden factory producing this icon was a personal Mecca to fans of the marque. Film stars such as Steve McQueen visited Meriden for their Triumphs. But on the brink of what should have been its biggest ever sales season, the BSA parent company dramatically collapsed. The Conservative government reacted, and Norton-Villiers-Triumph was created. The new owners decided to close down Meriden...so the workers locked them out. There followed protracted political negotiations, affected all the while by national government changes, ministers' attitudes, national and international economic conditions and, throughout all this, the world's continuing desire for the Triumph. As much a study of changing socio political attitudes as of an economically traumatic time for both Triumph and the country, socialist John Rosamond's unique position within the workers' co-operative makes this work a fascinating account of a story never before told from the inside. The reversal of his role from worker to chairman brought with it new responsibilities, bringing home to him the passion that employees, customers and dealers had for Triumph, and how that could keep Meriden from closing and the Bonneville in production. During all these desperate struggles, the Triumph Bonneville became the best-selling motorcycle of its class, winning the coveted Motor Cycle News Motorcycle of The Year award at the end of the seventies. Yet within just a few years of this, Meriden and the Bonnie were finally gone. All the rescue attempts, the lifesaving international orders, and the negotiations for a reprieve with the new Thatcher government are covered here in unique detail, as is the introduction of new models that Meriden hoped would attract a 'white knight'. Lavishly illustrated with never-before-seen photographs from the personal collections of the factory's workers, this inside-story of Triumph's last years at Meriden is the definitive history of the most famous of the Tony Benn worker's co-operatives.
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Table of Contents

i. Prologue 1. Baptism of fire 2. Battle for Triumph 3. Factory occupation 4. Glad to be back 5. Facing up to commercial reality 6. Stage 2 co-op ideology revisited 7. Going our separate ways 8. Advisors return 9. Inherent and irreconcilable contradictions 10. Freedom of the press 11. Retirements and redundancy 12. Government sword of Damocles 13. Partnership negotiations 14. Legal proceedings 15. Japanese negotiations 16. British negotiations 17. New beginnings 18. Optimism or false dawn 19. Confronting reality 20. Coming of age 21. Pay our way or close 22. Cauldron of activity 23. Mandate for change 24. Make or break 25. Crisis management 26. Buying time 27. Politics take over 28. Financial reconstructions 29. Clash of operating cultures 30. More sinister than coincidence 31. Words are no longer enough 32. Capital and labour partnership 33. On the brink of receivership 34. Receivership or liquidation xii. Epilogue

About the Author

John Rosamond was, like the British motorcycle industry, born in the West Midlands. After leaving school he learnt his trade as a skilled welder, and shortly thereafter was employed by the world-famous Triumph motorcycle factory at Meriden to work on its new oil-bearing frames. A socialist and union man, John was elected spokesman on behalf of his fellow welders. Returning to welding frames after the Meriden sit-in, in 1977 John then became the second and last chairman of the Triumph workers' board of directors, seeing through the continuing development of the acclaimed Bonneville model until the factory's closure in 1983. After Meriden, John was employed by the new Triumph firm in Hinckley before returning to his original trade as a welder, assessing students in the craft until his retirement in 2003.


"A lively glimpse of the Midlands of the 70s. ****" - Coventry Telegraph

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