Alfred was born to Walter and Jessie Scott [Nee Forbes] in Bradford in 1874. His parents had a total of 15 children including twins Alfred and Frank. The family moved around quite a lot, living in Scotland for a while and Alfred was at school near Selkirk.
Alfred’s father Walter died in 1880 in Manningham Bradford leaving almost £40,000 in his will which was a huge amount of money at the time. In the 1881 Census, Alfred aged 6, is living with his brothers in a large house in Manningham, Bradford. It’s clear from the 1881 census that Walter, noted as a Salesman in a Stuff Warehouse [Director] and the oldest son, took the responsibility for his siblings after their father died. Their mother, Jessie is living in Hastings with her sister at the time and Jessie died in January 1882, leaving money to her son Walter, next of kin. The Scott brothers also lost their brother James in 1882 age 21.
In 1891 Alfred was found studying engineering at Abbotsholme School in Uttoxeter. It’s difficult to find evidence of what Alfred did in the intervening years, and some evidence talks of him training in engineering at shipbuilders Douglas and Grant in Kirkcaldy. That he worked at W Sisson and Co. in Gloucester, where he learned to design and develop marine engines. We have contacted the Scott family and hope to be able to obtain some information about Alfred in the future.
Alfred was a boarder at 17 Victor Road, Bradford a Mechanical Engineer in the 1901 Census with living with Herbert Pickles and his wife Clara and it was during 1901 that he built his first engine, a twin cylinder two-stroke and was fitted to a modified bicycle. Alfred continued to work on the redesign of his engine and in 1904 he patented the engine. By 1908 he had developed a complete machine with a 333cc 3HP engine with air cooled cylinders. The first Scott motorcycles were manufactured by the Jowett Brothers of Bradford. Jowett’s only built six machines before Alfred launched the ‘Scott Engineering Co.’ of Saltaire, which then took on the manufacturing of these machines. During 1908 Alfred raced very successfully at a number of hill climbs and as the motorcycle was easy to start, it attracted much attention. 1909 saw production of the motorcycle increase.
Alfred had a ‘Cycle and Motorcycle Exhibition’ at his works in Bradford during 1910 and the local newspaper noted ‘… it is a unique machine and should command excellent business’.
Scott continued to work hard on developing his engine and had made many improvements, indeed the engine became fully water-cooled and the engine was enlarged to 486cc. Sadly, the machine entered in the TT in 1911 had lots of problems but this did not deter Alfred who then made many modifications and once again entered the TT and was successful when Frank Applebee won the 1912 TT Senior Race and also set the fastest lap on the Scott machine. Continued success in 1913 TT race with the closest victory in the history of the TT with Tim Wood winning the Senior Race.
The 1914 TT saw a revised engine, but the results were disappointing. They finished well down the list – even after setting the fastest lap. Production continued into the first couple of years of the Great War, and for the services Scott built a sidecar model that carried a machine gun. Alfred’s ideas continued to develop, and he produced an array of different models; one was a three-wheeled gun car!
An article in the Shipley Times & Express noted the Scott Engineering Co were expanding to manufacture machines for the Great War.
“Shipley supplying armoured motor cycles for the use of the British troops. To cope with the orders received from the War Office, the Scott Engineering Co., Ltd., are making additions their premises at Hirst Wood, Shipley. The machines will be fitted with Maxim guns, fixed for high angle firing (to deal with air craft), well for other kinds of military work. For four yean in succession the Scott cycle has broken all records for speed at the Isle of Man races. May they be still more successful in “bagging” German Zeppelins and aeroplanes!”
Shipley Times & Express Friday 2 October 1914
By 1918 Alfred had left the company he had formed to form a new company, Scott Autocar Co. based in Lidget Green, Bradford. He formed the company specifically to build the ‘Scott Sociable’, which looked like a small car with the front left wheel missing. These models were built on a triangular tubular chassis. This strange looking car was not a success and only between 100 and 200 were made.
Alfred died on 11 August 1923 of pneumonia at his home in Heaton Bradford and was buried in Undercliffe cemetery. He left just under £3000 to his bother Herbert Scott.
His obituary in The Engineer in 1923 noted;
“The death is announced of Mr. Alfred Angus Scott as having taken place on the 11th inst. Mr. Scott founded the Scott Engineering Co, of Bradford, which was afterwards transferred to Saltaire and made into the Scott Motor Cycle Co. Later he started the Scott Autocar Co at Lidget Green to make the Scott Sociable car. In 1915 he devised a machine gun attachment for a motor cycle and gave a demonstration with it in Buckingham Palace grounds. He early adopted the two-stroke engine for launch driving on the Clyde. Diagrams taken at the time from a two-cylinder 4in. by 4in. engine of his showed man pressures from 50 lb. to 65 lb. per square inch, at about 800 revolutions. Later, in his cycle engines, he got considerably higher pressures, particularly on those fitted with a rotary inlet valve. His machines won many prizes. He was a great advocate of the two-stroke system for motor cycling, and he himself won the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race in 1912 and 1913 on machines embodying his own inventions.”
His company Scott Autocar Co closed soon after his death, but Alfred’s original company continued to manufacture motorcycles for a number of years.
Research by Susan Crossley