The history of John Handley Bearings

During the 20th century, automotive engineering found its epicentre in the heart of the Black Country, with manufacturers such as AJS, Clyno, Star, Briton and Sunbeam trading there from the late 1800s to around 1930.

Wolverhampton was also home to the Handley family, and John Handley Snr was born in 1901, just eight years before the Briton Motor Company was formed in the region he called home.

By 1922, at the age of just 21, he became Chief Designer of the Briton Motor Company, by which point the manufacturer had produced over 22,000 cars and light trucks. The company was purchased shortly after his appointment by Staffordshire Engineering and Light Boiler Company (SEBCO).

During the mid-1920s manufacturing cars become costly, giving rise to a buoyant spare parts trade and John Handley Snr turned his hand to developing the company’s bearings sector, specialising in Cooper split roller bearings. He later purchased the company in 1963 and relocated to Drayton Street in Wolverhampton, renaming his new entity, John Handley (Bearings) Ltd.

John Handley Snr

John Handley

A period of growth

By the late 60s John Handley’s son, a European Touring Car Champion, showed a keen interest in the business. He went on to develop the transmission side of the company and became chairman of the entire brand.

Over the next 30 years, the family business grew considerably, acquiring Midlands Bearings from the Glynwed Group, Avon Spherical Bearings and the Rose agency of Brian Sullivan, as well as RESB (Rod End and Spherical Bearings), a specialist distributor of Rose Bearings to the motorsport industry. In 1992 John Handley Junior was appointed Chariman of the British racing Driver’s Club.

In 1993, with new larger premises, the company gained the prestigious distributorship of USA Thomson Linear Bearings.


A heritage company serving a modern industry

Today JHB serves some of the nation’s largest industrial companies and strategic industries with a range of niche bearing products.

The late John Handley Snr and John Handley Jnr established a reputation for integrity. They would be proud of the way the company is regarded in the industry today.