Brown Brothers Ltd. was a manufacturer and wholesaler of bicycles and cycle accessories, and later in its history, of motorcycles and aircraft parts.
In 1889, Albert and Ernest Brown rented the company's first premises at 7 Great Eastern Street, London, and began dealing in bicycles, cycle parts, and tools. In that same year, Dunlop patented and developed the pneumatic tyre. By 1890, practical tyres had replaced the solid tyres that had been used until then, and bicycles suddenly became hugely popular. The 1890s were the bicycle trade's first boom years and Brown Brothers were in an ideal position to capitalise. In 1891 the premises at Great Eastern Street were expanded and in the following year the company opened a branch in Paris.
The beginning of the 20th century saw a slump in the bicycle market and Brown Brothers Ltd. diversified into the motorcycle and motor car business. Brown motorcycles were manufactured from 1902 until 1915. After the First World War, all production of motorcycles had ceased and the company focused on motor accessories, aircraft parts, and the popular Vindec bicycles.
Brown Brothers Ltd. continued until at least 1989. The site of the company's original premises in Great Eastern Street is now occupied by an office block.
Brown Brothers original premises in Great Eastern Street c.1900
Despite the long history of Brown Brothers, the B B L overprint appears to have been used only in the George VI period on SG 465 and SG 488.
by Mark Matlach