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31st March 2008

TP’s Newsround
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The South of England Classic Bike Show gets snowbound; thieves steal a vintage motorcycle collection; Coventry goes classic; Ariels celebrate a royal anniversary; there’s a new top chap at the BSAOC and we bid farewell to Roy Richards...

Snow In The South

The Spring South of England RealClassic Show at Ardingly was struck by snow – and the RC little silver van was among the vehicles stranded on the big hill, a mere five miles from the showground. Despite the ghastly weather some 60 motorcycles were on display in the show, of which at least 15 were ridden to the event in blizzard conditions…

Congratulations to Dave Hawes who not only piloted his Laverda Jota on the 140 mile round trip unscathed, but also won the RealClassic award (although he didn’t know it at the time!). Other prize winners included Mr J Ellis with his 1929 AJS model D; Mr B Righton and his 1949 BSA Bantam D1 which cost all of £10 back in 1960; Mr F Leone with his 24-hour Le Mans racing Motom 48cc machine; Jeremy Frank and his 1973 Honda CB750K2; Fred Winborn with his rebuilt 1953 BSA Bantam D3; Martin Weller and his 1970 T350 Suzuki which was imported in parts from the USA in 2006; and the Indian Riders MC who took the prize for the Best Club display.

Made of stern stuff, these Lav-Men Dace Hawes and his Laverda Jota

Happily, it started to thaw after lunch, so most folk had a better journey back. To reward the hardy souls who struggled out, organiser Mrs Elk will be sending them free tickets to her next autojumble in May. We’ll be back (weather permitting) at Ardingly on October 26th, but in the meanwhile the Rye (Hamstreet) Classic Bikejumble opens 10am on Sunday 18th May, and the next Elk Show is the Rye (Hamstreet) Classic Motorcycle Show and Bikejumble on Sunday 20th July. Call 01797 344277 or

Vintage Collection Stolen

19 vintage motorcycles, worth over £120,000, were stolen on the night of Sunday 6th April from pensioner Mrs Joyce Cobbings whose collection dates back to 1949. Police are asking for any information which might help to trace the missing machines. The thieves broke into outbuildings and wheeled the bikes across farmland in Gloucestershire, some time after 7pm and before 9am on the Monday morning.

Among the stolen bikes were a 1915 Brough inline flat twin ladies model (value £24,000), a 1926 Moto Guzzi (value £12,000), and a Hobart 1911 ladies model (value £10,000), plus a 1946 Ariel Red Hunter, 1904 Humber, 1913 Douglas, 1921 Moto Gillet 350, 1921 Alcyon Acynette, 90cc ladies model, 1923 Zenith-JAP V-twin, 1924 Calthorpe, 1925 Velocette EL, 1926 Rex Acme-JAP, 1927 New Imperial, 1927 OHV BSA 350, 1932 Moto Guzzi 175, 1932 Frera 225, and a 1950 Moto Guzzi Motoleggera.

Acting Detective Sergeant Pipe believes that the theft was entirely pre-meditated and that the thieves took their pick of the bunch. He said: ‘The collection is famous amongst bikers around the world. The offenders have selected some very rare models, which indicates this theft was planned.’

Witnesses or anybody with any information are asked to contact police on 0845 090 1234 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 quoting incident 81 of April 7. Alternatively, you can call Gloucestershire Constabulary and speak to Detective Constable Emma Skeen on 01452 335200, or email emma.skeen at

Coventry Revs Up!

A fine array of British engineering excellence has been organised for your entertainment at the Coventry Centenary on May 11th 2008. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers are hosting this event to celebrate 100 years of automotive engineering in Coventry.

This will incorporate the finest possible display of vehicles manufactured in Coventry and demonstrate 100 years of achievement by engineers in the area, including Jaguar, Triumph, Alvis and Rootes Group cars, Triumph, Montgomery, Rudge and Francis-Barnett motorcycles and many more, plus samples of some of the latest technologies being developed for the future.

Organiser (and RC Clubman) Martyn Roberts sounded just a teensy bit excited about it all when we last heard from him. ‘We've had some great entries so far - the oldest is 1901. We have an assortment of pioneer machines, two Rovers, a lovely Montgomery V-twin, a fine line up of Rudges, several Francis-Barnetts and, of course, lots of Triumphs.

Coventry Museum of Transport are supporting the event and have suggested bringing a couple of historic Lea-Francis cars - I've asked them to include their magnificent V-twin Lea-Francis motorcycle too.’

And if you’re interested in old cars too, then you should see some splendid examples of automotive excellence, including three genuine Le Mans cars (a 1954 D-type, 88 Silk Cut Jaguar and 2007 Prodrive Aston Martin).

This event hasn’t been organised as a money-spinner (far from it!), but is instead intended to spread the word about what has been built in Britain in the past, and maybe it’ll inspire a new generation too. ‘We hope that families will come’ says Martyn ‘and, just maybe, some of the children will be sufficiently impressed by what engineers do that they want to become engineers themselves one day.’

The Coventry Centenary opens 10am to 4pm at The British Motor Industry Heritage Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire, on Sunday May 11th 2008. Anyone interested in old vehicles welcome to attend and entries from individual enthusiasts with Coventry-built machines are most welcome.

Email jmlroberts at or call 01455 238413 for an entry form

Francis Barnett stuff on

Ariels on Royal Parade

Members of the Ariel Owners’ Motor Cycle Club were delighted to take part in a parade through London to commemorate the Diamond Wedding of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Organised by the all-party Parliamentary Motor Group, the parade was mainly of cars with the AOMCC providing two 1947 motorcycles out of the total of only eight motor cycles in the 60-vehicle parade. The sidecar attached to club Chairman Lester Grant’s Square Four seemed to gain most attention from onlookers -- possibly this was due to the rarity of such vehicles, possibly it was due to the sidecar passenger wearing period costume including a top hat cunningly fashioned on a pudding basin helmet.

Square hat for a Square Four... Ariel Club Chairman Lester Grant’s Square Four

Naturally, both Ariels completed the run satisfactorily, despite a stop to change plugs outside New Scotland Yard. There it quickly became evident that the two sub-machine gun toting guards were not classic motorcycle enthusiasts. Indeed, no evidence was shown of them possessing senses of humour either. Perhaps they didn’t like Mike Taylour’s VH?

A man on an Ariel, yesterday. Mike Taylor's Ariel VH

If you’d like to know more about AOMCC membership then send an SAE to 80 Pasture Lane, Clayton, Bradford, BD14 6LN or see

Top RE Dealers

Baz Cooper (left) and Chris Williams, yesterday.Royal Enfield dealers proved their mettle by braving the snow to attend the company’s annual conference this month. Despite the freezing temperatures, dealers travelled the length and breadth of the country to attend and take the opportunity to test ride the new Woodsman, which will soon be available for sale.

This event is also when the Royal Enfield importer gives out awards to the best-performing dealerships. The big prize was won for the sixth consecutive year by Hayward's of Cambridge -- with Llandow Classics from South Wales being Highly Commended. The photo shows Baz Cooper on the left and Chris Williams of Llandow – and look; they even rode to the event!

See for more details.

New BSA Bloke

Bob Wilkinson, yesterday.At the 2008 BSA Owners' Club AGM, Bob Wilkinson was the victor in a closely fought campaign for election to the post of National Secretary. Bob, who hails from the BSAOC East Sussex Branch, was the first to raise his eyes from the floor, when Dave Brady, Club Chairman, appealed for nominations and allowed a veil of total silence to descend. Bob's one moment of weakness secured his appointment.

There’s more about the East Sussex Beesa people at:

Roy Richards, 1931-2008

Midlands businessman and founder of the National Motorcycle Museum, Roy Richards, died this month aged 77. He made his name largely within the construction industry during the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, establishing many highly successful companies. A keen motorcyclist in his youth, Roy Richards began collecting British motorcycles in 1970. Over the following 10 years, he set his heart and mind on establishing a museum dedicated to the history, personalities and products of the British motorcycle industry. To this end he gave his own considerable collection of machines, great financial commitment and his huge enthusiasm and single minded determination to see the project succeed. The purpose-built National Motorcycle Museum opened at Bickenhill near Birmingham in October 1984.

The following years saw him expand the Museum's collection to over 800 machines, the largest collection of British motorcycles in the world. A severe fire in September 2003 destroyed several of the Museum's exhibition halls and conference facilities as well as hundreds of its unique exhibits. The tragedy would have marked the end of many similar enterprises but Roy Richards would not let that happen. With a team of dedicated supporters, he organised the rebuilding of the Museum's burnt out halls and restoring damaged machines. The Museum re-opened in December, 2004. In Roy Richards' own words; ‘The National Motorcycle Museum is back, bigger and better than ever.’

The National Motorcycle Museum remains open for business as usual.

Roy Richards

Bikes made in Coventry (mostly) on Right Now...


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