Ted Unwin is something of a legend around these parts.

A Manchester lad, Ted followed his passions after leaving school, namely music and a career in engineering. By day, he was working on such illustrious aircraft as the Vulcan and Concorde as a contractor and by night, he was playing in a band in pubs and clubs, crossing paths with such names as the Beatles….

Living in Bolton, the commute to his workshop in Manchester was getting him down, so he thumbed his way to the classified section in the Bolton Evening News and spotted a tiny ad which read “Welder/ Fabricator required for light gauge fabrication…”

Ted made the call and met with Mike Eatough, a passionate engineer originating from Lancashire who after meeting Alan Clews, had moved back to the area from the Midlands. Alan was on an upwards trajectory after taking over the remaining stock of engines at BSA, keeping Eatough’s order books full so he very much needed skilled help to manage the demand for his handbuilt motorcycle frames. The business in question was originally known as EMC but was forced to change to EMX due to another London based manufacturer, Ehrlich Motor Co.using those same initials.

EMX had been set up adjacent to the first CCM premises in Bolton’s town centre purely to serve the burgeoning bike builder and this symbiotic relationship had worked very well. In 1977 however, CCM had grown so big that new premises were needed, and they made the move into a former Courtaulds textile factory to meet this growing demand for their race bikes. This prompted Eatough to set about building his own bikes, working in direct competition with the CCM brand and using Sachs motors.

Business was tougher than ever and cash was tight; this attracted the interest of Terry Wilson of Cotton Motorcycles in Gloucester, who was looking for a new home after losing a MoD contract to NVT. Wilson and Eatough joined forces to create E.Cotton, and using Rotax motors lead to a number of race successes.

The 1980’s saw both E. Cotton and CCM in financial difficulties and it was following the Falklands war that both companies were thrown a lifeline by Armstrong, who were contracted to supply the British forces with motorcycles to replace so much of the equipment lost in the conflict.

Using the Rotax tornado motor, they developed the MT500 and during testing by the SAS, it was the only machine that didn’t break down. The contract was won securing an order for 2500 units. Ted and his cohorts were back in business at CCM’s Vale Street factory under the new Armstrong-CCM banner.

Ted was involved with many exciting projects during this time with the company in road racing, trials and motocross and due to the success of the MT500, the firm received The Queen’s Award for Export and Ted was invited to Buckingham Palace to receive this distinguished gift.

Sadly, the demand for the military bikes came to an end and with Armstrong experiencing hard times in the late 80s, it placed a number of its subsidiaries on the market, including CCM.

As one door was about to close, another opened for Ted and a call came in from Maxim Motorsport to help build a series of GT cars for Jack Roush in the states. The Bolton team delivered the first car however the Americans reneged on their deal and having invested heavily to deliver this project, Maxim had to scale back dramatically leaving Ted looking for a new role.

Fortunately, Bolton was a real hotbed for automotive engineering and Ted found himself at Proteus Sports Cars, an independent company making replica Jaguar C, D and XJ13 sports cars, where he met Stirling Moss as he sought a car to compete in the legendary Pan American race. Ted was happy for many years here until Alan Clews got in touch from his new base up in Blackburn. Ted was brought in to work on new prototype motorcycles which were growing in numbers with the input from a band of venture capitalists plotting a volume route to success.

CCM were producing some great machines however they were technically superior than the jap bikes that they shared powerplants with,  they retail at well over £1000 more than the equivalent Suzuki and as a consequence, sales never quite achieved the required numbers and the receivers were called in.

Ted was freed up to pursue his passions of buying, restoring and selling antiques and playing in the pubs and clubs under his stage name of Eddie McRay.

In the meantime, Austin Clews and brother-in-law Gary Harthern negotiated a buy-back of the CCM name and began to build bikes again bearing the family name and Ted would return to help between here and Gary’s Awning Company business on the old Vale Street factory site.

Ted is now semi-retired but is always busy with his many and varied hobbies and he was instrumental in the creation of the Spitfire model, creating the original jigs and prototype frame that is central to the beauty of the range.

He is still playing his mix of blues and sixties pop and even played in Liverpool’s famed landmark Cavern Club last year.

During lockdown he kept busy by making a series of clocks using both motorcycle and military memorabilia which along with his tribute CD to CCM and other RAF memorabilia, you can buy for your mancaves by visiting our eBay page here https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/ccm-motorcycles .