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Honoured at last: One of Coventry's motoring pioneers.

Byline: Jane Tyler News Reporter news@coventrytelegraph.net

COVENTRY has paid a long overdue tribute to a man who helped put the city on the motoring map.

Siegfried Bettmann founded the Triumph motorbike company in the city at the turn of the 20th century, but was shunned during the First World War because of his German roots.

Now, though, a blue plaque has been unveiled at his former home in North Avenue, Stoke, to recognise his achievements.

Coventry Lord Mayor Michael Hammon unveiled the plaque which was commissioned by the Coventry Society and Triumph Motorcycles.

They were joined by Triumph enthusiasts on vintage motorbikes and cars which were lined up to pay homage to the man who was a key figure in the development of Coventry as a motor city.

German-born Bettmann came to Coventry in 1888 to make bicycles at the Triumph Cycle Company based in Much Park Street.

In 1902 he and partner Moritz Shulte expanded into making motorbikes.

Bettmann also went into local politics - eventually becoming mayor of Coventry in 1913.

But then World War One broke out and Coventry people turned against Bettmann, seeing him as an enemy - even though he had by now become a British citizen and his company was supplying thousands of motorbikes to help the British war effort.

He was forced to step down as mayor, and w a s stripped of directorships and honours. But although his adopted city turned against him, he refused to turn against it.

He launched a charity fund in the name of his wife Annie, to help young men and women start their own businesses, a fund that still exists.

And in 1921 he commissioned a memorial for Triumph employees killed in the war, which still stands in London Road cemetery.

But he lived in obscurity, and by the time of his death in 1951, his contribution to Coventry's engineering greatness was largely forgotten.

But now, nearly 65 years after Bettmann's death, residents have put right the injustice done to him with a plaque reminding passers-by that he once lived in Stoke Park.

The house is currently owned by the city council but is due to be sold.

Coun Hammon said: "It's very touching for me to be here to honour his name and I do hope this house finds a worthy owner. Now it has this blue plaque, it has to be preserved."

CAPTION(S):

Coun Michael Hammon with the Lady Mayoress, Mary Hammon, at the unveiling of a Blue Plaque to honour Triumph's Siegfried Bettmann (right)

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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 29, 2015
Words:422
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