Manchester’s landmark DOT Motorcycles factory closing down and set for redevelopment

DOT Motorcycles
DOT Motorcycles

Exclusive: Simon Donohue

One of the things I love about sensitive regeneration is the way that signs of the past are incorporated into contemporary structures.

My favourite is probably the old railway map near the entrance to what is now the thoroughly modern Victoria Railway Station.

Look carefully – and usually above street level – as you wander around Manchester, any city in fact, and you’ll see the names and brands of the original builders of the structures that make up the fabric of the city.

People who pass through Hulme might have wondered about the DOT Motorcycles building, assuming that it had long since given up on the pursuit for which it was first conceived. Sadly, it has now.

Having promised motorcycle enthusiasts a ride that is “Devoid Of Trouble” for more than a century, Manchester’s iconic DOT Motorcycle company is finally shipping out to new premises.

A new buyer is being found for the site which will be developed, while DOT will set up elsewhere.

What started out in Salford as a manufacturer of cycles, founded by Harry Reed before the First World War, became better known in latter years as a nostalgic reference on the wall of a factory in Hulme, Manchester.

Latter-day passersby will have wondered about an era when Manchester sustained a fully-blown motorcycle production facility, little knowing that the Hulme factory was still producing parts and components for machines owned by enthusiasts across the world.

That will continue in a new home, says owner Roy Dickman.

Devoid Of Trouble
Devoid Of Trouble
A DOT Motorcycles ice cream cart
A DOT Motorcycles ice cream cart
There were a number of DOT Motorcycles among the exhibits when we visited the Astle Park Traction Engine Rally in the summer, including this rather exotic ice cream cart (pictured). One of the enthusiast owners said he’d heard that the place was now being run down once and for all. It seems that it was true.

Asked by Dadsdayoffmcr for confirmation of the rumours about the end of production, an email from the company stated: “Hi, That’s right dotmotorcycle is closing down parts and production – please let the world know. Regards, Fred Dots.”

However, director Roy Dickman says he plans to continue producing and selling parts and is considering one of four new bases. DOT will temporarily end production and distribution for two months and has to be clear of the Hulme factory by January, he says.

“There have been inquiries from more than enough potential buyers for the factory building and another at the rear, but we’ve not decided anything yet.” Roy added. “It will be redeveloped but not by us. I’m not retiring though. I’m 76 now and never will. There are slow days but we’re still sending parts for DOT motorcycles to people across the world.”

While production of full motorcycles bearing the DOT name had ceased in the 1960s, the company continued to provide a parts production service for enthusiasts across the world.

In April this year, the Manchester Evening News reported that vintage bikes worth thousands of pounds had been stolen from the factory.

DOT Motorcycles maintained iconic status in the city due in part to its name being emblazoned on the side of its building in Hulme – a reminder of Manchester’s historic part in the automotive industry. Few people are aware that Model T Ford cars once rolled off the production line in Trafford Park.

You can read more about DOT Motorcycles here on its Wikipedia page and here on the owners club website.

Main image: Google Street View

Update: This press statement is taken from the DOT Motorcycles Facebook group.