Visitors to Littleport discover more about their ancestor who founded Harley-Davidson

DESCENDANTS of a man who set up the iconic Harley-Davidson motorbike company visited Littleport this week to discover more about their famous ancestor.

William Sylvester Harley, who set up the company in America in 1903, was the son of William Harley, who was born in a cottage in Victoria Street, Littleport, in 1835.

Members of Littleport Society welcomed Kathy Harley and her family to the village and took them on a tour of various landmarks, including the Harley-Davidson stainless steel sculpture, William Harley’s birthplace and the church.

Society member Maureen Scott said: “We had a wonderful day with the family. They had been all over Europe, including Rome and Venice, but said that their visit to Littleport was the highlight of their trip.

“They said it was like coming home, it was a really memorable day.”


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Kathy Harley, who lives in the USA, is the widow of William Edward Harley. He was the eldest grandson of William Sylvester Harley, who co-founded the motorbike company with Arthur Davidson.

She was accompanied by her daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters and they were guests for a lunch at Society headquarters at The Barn.

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Bruce Frost and Grenville Goodson took the family on the Harley trail around Littleport.

Mr Frost said: “They took photos of the cottage where we believe William Harley was born.

“We also took them to the church and they saw the grave of William Sylvester Harley’s great uncle, William Harley. He was buried on the same day that he first steam train went through the town.

“Our visitors enjoyed seeing the Harley-Davidson sculpture which was unveiled in 2003 and depicts a 1937 Knucklehead bike.”

He also said: “The family were over the moon to see Littleport and members of the Society were thrilled to welcome them.”

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