12th January 2015
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Men of Meriden
The days when Triumph were based at Meriden are long gone, but one classic motorcycle specialist carries on the grand tradition...
The January issue of RealClassic magazine features some fabulous old photos from the Triumph factory, back when production was still in full swing at Meriden. Although the modern Triumph manufacturing business set up shop in Leicestershire, there’s still a strong connection between the marque and the old Coventry location – not least in the form of Meriden Motorcycles. This small firm specialises in the repair, restoration, sale and service of bikes from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and is, as the name suggests, based near Brum. But the connection to the old company is much stronger than just geographical happenstance…
Meriden Motorcycles is owned and run by John Hallard and Jon Weaver, who’ve been friends for over 50 years since they were nippers, growing up together in the shadow of the Triumph Engineering Company. Indeed, John Hallard’s childhood home backed onto the Triumph works and inspired his later career: ‘I used to see the testers from the fence and decided that would be the job for me!’
Long before he left school, John was introduced to his first Triumph experience. ‘My father, Bunny as he was known, built a go-kart for us to ride around the local woods. It used a Triumph Tina scooter for its engine.’ So it was almost inevitable that John would join the firm, which he did in 1975 when it was being run as a workers’ co-operative. He worked in the experimental department and soon made a name for himself as the ‘wheelie king’ (as you can tell from the photo hereabouts).
In the years after the Meriden plant closed, John built up a successful business in construction, while friend Jon has established an engineering firm supplying components to the aerospace industry and the likes of Rolls-Royce. Their shared enthusiasm for old bikes soon turned into a new business, and thus was born Meriden Motorcycles with its showroom, workshop and engineering bay. They can handle almost any mechanical task, from a simple service to a full restoration, provide alloy cleaning and paintwork facilities, and can fabricate one-off special parts as required.
Meriden Motorcycles also has a small showroom of bikes for sale, which can be of any marque and almost any age – typically classics, from a T140 Triumph to XS650 Yamaha, with the odd Hinckley Bonnie or Enfield single thrown into the mix. If they haven’t got the kind of bike you’re after in stock then they’ll seek out a good example on your behalf, as one satisfied customer explains: ‘The two Johns who work there are very likeable and helpful with a great sense of humour. After less than a week they had found a 1976 Bonneville for me that was absolutely stunning. I bought it straight away and they delivered it to my house.’
Inevitably, a certain marque forms the core of their business but the ‘two Johns’ cater to all kinds of classics. ‘We still love our Triumphs,’ says John, ‘but are now working on all classic bikes.’ You’re welcome to drop in for a cuppa and a chat if you’d like to see what services they provide or browse the bikes for sale. You’ll find them at Windmill House on Walsh Lane, Meriden; see meridenmotorcycles.co.uk for a map and more info (Warning: Music plays on opening link).
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