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21st December 2007


The Douglas Club
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After a busy year commemorating their marque's centenary in 2007, the London Douglas MCC start all over again with celebrations for their 80th birthday in 2008...

The first Douglas motorcycle was a 2¾hp flat-twin and it was built one hundred years ago in 1907. So for much of last twelve months the Douglas Club has been commemorating the marque's centenary. In 2008 the Club itself will celebrate its 80th birthday, harking back to the days of 1928 when it was formed by the company in Kingswood near Bristol.

Please ignore the spanners under the bike... 1928 Douglas EW fore-and-aft boxer twin

Back in the 1920s, Douglas flat-twins were famed for racing wins and record-breaking, and membership of the club grew steadily over the next decade as Douglas owners sallied forth on day trips, camping weekends and long-distance runs (exactly the things which owners' clubs tend to do these days, strangely…)

Everything was cheaper in black and white. Especially paint. London Douglas Club stop for 2d teas in 1934-ish

The fun came to a screeching halt with the outbreak of WW2, and when the Douglas Club was revived in 1946 it consisted of just seven, extremely dedicated members. While Douglas continued to build bikes the LDMCC thrived and spread throughout the UK, but the club's decline seemed inevitable after Douglas stopped producing 'proper' motorcycles in the late 1950s. Membership fell to around 140 in the mid-1960s but those riders were determined not to let the marque slither away into obscurity, and they succeeded in keeping the Douglas name alive.

When the cult of the classic bike came about, more enthusiasts discovered Douglas motorcycles, and in 1981 the club's membership roster stood at 340 or more. Since then membership has more than trebled and the Douglas Club is now an active international organisation with over 1200 members.

must-ignore-the-camera-must-ignore-the-camera... 1948 Douglas MkIII

Naturally. the marque's centenary year proved to be a busy one, with various celebrations taking place across the country. One event in particular took the party to the people; an end-to-end ride in September, from Land's End to John O'Groats, organised by the Cornish section of the club. Eight riders travelled 950 miles in six days aboard a wide range of Douglas machines, from a 1914 2¾hp model to a 1955 Dragonfly. In the main the bikes were resolutely reliable, described as being 'often oily but unbeaten'. That's not bad for machines with an average age of 63. The riders were a little younger; their average age was 59!

Champagne and pipe tobacco at Lands End. Or John O'Groats...

The Douglas Club also produced a birthday booklet to celebrate the centenary, called 'Douglas Motorcycling 1907-2007'. This A5 glossy booklet runs to 50 pages and includes over 150 images of differing Douglas motorcycles, plus an introduction by William Douglas (great-grandson of the firm's founder), an article on Douglas dirt-track racing and a feature on the marque by RC Clubman and motorcycle historian Jeff Clew. The booklet costs £4 including UK delivery: send a cheque to The London Douglas MCC Ltd at 4 St Marks Cottages, St Marks Road, Binfield RG42 4AU if you'd like a copy.

Preparing to set off on the Blindfold Riding Challenge, Eric could not help suffering a moment of doubt... 1955 Douglas Dragonfly

The Douglas Club now has nine sections spread throughout the UK and organises a full programme of national events each year. There will, of course, be special celebrations for the club's 80th birthday.

It also publishes a bimonthly magazine, the New Conrod, and offers a comprehensive spares service to help keep Douglas motorcycles on the road. There's also model specialists, a dating service, a machine register, an extensive archive and library - and membership costs just £12 per year.

You can join via www.douglasmotorcycles.co.uk, or look out for the club stands at shows and events throughout the year

If you'd like to read more about the Land's End to John O'Groats ride, including details of the different Douglas motorcycles which took part, the complete story is in December issue of Real Classic magazine, which you can order here.

Douglas stuff on eBay.co.uk
(Douglas also used to import Vespas)

Last one back tae Glasgae buys the Battered Mars Bars... 1930 Douglas Brochure

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More Douglasses (and Vespas, ahem) on eBay.co.uk

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