Topics: Sturmey-Archer Heritage :: Introduction
Sturmey-Archer was one of two major manufacturers of internal-gear hubs in the early and mid 20th century. (Fichtel & Sachs in Germany was the other. Shimano has mad internal-gear hubs since 1957.) The Sturmey-Archer AW 3-speed hub, by far the most popular one, was durable and, easy to maintain and rebuild. The model name, AW, actually stands for "Type A, Wide-Ratio" but legend also expands it to "always works."
In the mid- and late 20th century, however, Sturmey-Archer introduced new hubs which were not as reliable, sometimes because of the internal design and sometimes because of the shifters. Quality issues also began to creep in.
Sturmey-Archer history is covered in the book The Sturmey-Archer Story and its online update by Tony Hadland ; bits and pieces of the history are in the technical articles on this site.