The Angus birthplace of Harley-Davidson motorcycles

Walter Davidson pictured with one of the first motorcyles devised by his brother Arthur and his childhood friend Bill Harley. PIC Wikipedia
Walter Davidson pictured with one of the first motorcyles devised by his brother Arthur and his childhood friend Bill Harley. PIC Wikipedia
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A modest estate house is where the story of the world’s most celebrated motorcycle company began.

The two-bedroom cottage in the hamlet of Netherton, near Aberlemno, has now become a pilgrimage site for Harley-Davidson fans the world over.

Arthur Davidson, who founded Harley-Davidson Motorcycles in 1903, is pictured second right next to his father William Senior (far right), who was born in Aberlemno, Angus. Also pictured is Arthur's brothers William A (left) and Walter (second left). PIC Wikipedia

Arthur Davidson, who founded Harley-Davidson Motorcycles in 1903, is pictured second right next to his father William Senior (far right), who was born in Aberlemno, Angus. Also pictured is Arthur's brothers William A (left) and Walter (second left). PIC Wikipedia

In the early 1800s, it was the home of Alexander Davidson, or Sandy, a tenant blacksmith, who lived on the estate of Lord Minto.

Davidson lived there with his wife and six children in a tied cottage next to the smiddy, with two other workers sharing the accommodation.

His circumstances were enough for him to consider emigration to the United States at the age of 52, with a number of his wife’s family already making the journey to Wisconsin.

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Harley-Davidson Motorcyles still has a strong following around the world with around a quarter of a million new bikes sold every year. PIC wikicommons.

Harley-Davidson Motorcyles still has a strong following around the world with around a quarter of a million new bikes sold every year. PIC wikicommons.

In 1858, they left Scotland for the United States with The Davidson Legacy, which painstakingly restored the once-derelict cottage and promotes Harley-Davidson’s Scottish roots, clear of the impact of Sandy Davidson’s decision.

“Were it not for their courage, then the Harley-Davidson Motor-Cycle Company would not be the global icon that it is today,” a spokesman said.

Amongst the Davidson family on board the ship was William, son of Sandy Davidson.

William was to father five children after arriving in Wisconsin and it was his boy, Arthur, born in 1881, who was to go on and found the motorcycle company.

According to The Davidson Legacy, Arthur and his brothers were strongly influenced by their father’s fascination with all things mechanical and spent their childhood’s building and maintaining bicycles.

Soon the bicycle was to be completely reborn in the backyard of their Milwaukee home.

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As a lover of the outdoors, it was Arthur’s mission to “take the hard work out of bicycling” with a similar ambition held by his childhood friend Bill Harley.

Both worked together in a workshop built by Arthur’s father and in 1901, Harley drew up plans for an engine to be mounted on an ordinary bicycle.

Harley-Davidson was founded by the two childhood friends in 1903.

The Aberlemno cottage which Sandy Davidson left in 1858 was painstakingly restored by three Harley Davidson enthusiasts, who now own the building which has become a focal point for Harley-Davidson enthusiasts from around the world.

Maggie Sheritt, Mike Sinclair, and Keith Macintosh, officially opened Davidson’s Cottage in 2012 and a festival to mark Harley-Davidson heritage is held in nearby Brechin which hundreds of bikers attend.

An original Carmyllie slate from Sandy Davidson’s cottage is now on display in the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

Arthur Davidson died in a carcrash in 1950.

The company still sells around 270,000 new motorbikes every year.

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