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15th August 2016


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Back To Skool

RealClassic regular Stephen Herbert goes back to school with Connie the Constellation, a pre-war Triumph, a Kenilworth Motorcyclette and several other outstanding examples of motorcycling development...

Recently I took my owner, Stephen, on a trip down memory lane back to his old school. I am a Royal Enfield Constellation – the bike Stephen lusted after in his youth – and I’m grateful to him for rebuilding me recently! The purpose of my visit was to join a display of fellow bikes organised by VMCC’s C&NW Section to Whitby High School (or Ellesmere Port Grammar School as Stephen remembers it…) to enrich the A-level students’ Engineering and Product Design course.

Motorcycles go Back to School

Graham Gotts (C&NW Secretary) had organised with Mr Heeley the headmaster for eight of us bikes and our owners to showcase the development of motorcycle design over the course of the 20th century, highlighting the similarities and differences in engineering and aesthetic features over the years. I proudly wore my owner’s old school cap on my headlamp casquette for the event. In order of age, we motorcycles were:

  • 1913 Triumph Type D TT 500cc Roadster (owned by another ex-pupil, Neil Shirley)
  • 1920 Douglas 2¾ HP 350cc (ridden by Jim Scott)
  • 1921 Kenilworth Motorcyclette 143cc (owned by Jane Jarvis)
  • 1934 New Imperial Model 30 250cc (owned by David Jarvis)
  • 1948 Vincent Rapide Series B 1000cc (ridden by Derek Burns)
  • 1950 BSA M20 500cc (ridden by Ron Williams)
  • Me – 1959 Royal Enfield Constellation 700cc (ridden by Stephen Herbert)
  • 1960 BSA A7 Shooting Star 500cc (ridden by Keith Wilson)

    Some of us were ridden by our owners to the event, others arrived in vans, but we were all roadworthy and very much alive.

    Stephen was interested to see his old school again. The last time he took a bike, a ratty old Royal Enfield Crusader, onto school premises was back in 1971, and back then he received a detention for his trouble! The school all seemed vaguely familiar to him, yet strangely smaller than he remembers it…

    Motorcycles go Back to School
    Nortons, on Now...

    It was great to meet my other, older motorcycle companions with such diverse and interesting design features. How I marvelled at the evolution of motorcycle design from the simplicity of the Triumph of my grandfather’s pre-WW1 generation (one speed, no clutch, belt drive) through the New Imperial (hand change, girder forks) of my father’s interwar time, up to my own post-war generation with twin cylinders, four gears and ‘proper’ brakes and suspension.

    Graham’s talk also touched on even more modern design features including disc brakes, electric starters and indicators, none of which I understand properly, but Stephen does as he has one of those too. The students, following Graham’s introductory talk, showed their interest in us bikes with questions and discussions with our owners and lots of selfies with us.

    Motorcycles go Back to School

    After the visit we all set off for home with our owners with a warm glow of satisfaction at (hopefully) giving some inspiration to younger humans to join the ranks of older ones in caring for us old bikes!

    Photos (and typing) by Stephen Herbert, on behalf of Connie the Constellation

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