The Douglas Engineering Co. was founded by two Scottish brothers, William and Edward, in 1882 in Bristol. Originally a general engineering company, they hired Joseph Barter whose own firm, Light Motors, had failed financially. Barter brought with him his own motorcycle design with a technically advanced horizontally opposed engine of such smoothness, Barter had dubbed it the “Fairy.” The first Douglas in 1907 was based on the Fairy, but with direct drive.
By the end of World War I, Douglas had provided the army with 23,000 superb machines and had won respect on the race circuit. 1932 found Douglas sold to a finance group that managed to continue manufacturing until 1956.