Author Topic: Memory lane....  (Read 3439 times)

Offline unclerob

  • A's Best Friend
  • ***
  • Join Date: Jul 2012
  • Posts: 214
  • Karma: 6
Memory lane....
« on: 03.07. 2014 10:30 »
I was chatting to someone at a jumble the other day and we got to talking about how bike shops aren't like they used to be so I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane here.....
I grew up in South London, Tooting to be exact so we'll start at Mac Motors, a little shop with a good parts stock and usually a dozen or so bikes for sale, it was there I bought a Gold Star Catalina tank, bright blue with the island transfer on it that proudly adorned my A10 for several years! Mac himself was a very large, very bald and very dirty chap with a very relaxed attitude to the MoT test, you could wait in the café opposite whilst your bike was attended to, this consisted of a 10 or 15 minute wait until a lad would wander out, make a note of the reg and mileage, stare pensively at the bike, possibly light a fag and then wander back in.....etiquette required you to wait a few more minutes then on returning to the shop Mac would greet you with a lovely new certificate and congratulations on the roadworthiness of your bike!
A mile or so up the road we come to Elite motors (once my place of employment) still selling some BSA spares but by then it had become a Ducati dealership....where I learned that Lucas electrics really weren't so bad!
Round the corner, under the arches of Tooting Bec tube station was Brian Verralls shop....always a lovely selection of bikes for sale but known for a somewhat offhand attitude towards spotty teenagers who couldn't possibly afford any of them but then a couple of miles across to Mitcham Lane takes us to Len Patersons shop (the cylinder head man nowadays) to admire his customised Triumphs...
Up through Streatham and Brixton, passing a couple more run of the mill shops takes us to the Stockwell Road, then the home of Pride and Clarke with a large showroom on the right and a wonderful run of 6 or 7 interconnected shopfronts on the left selling virtually everything you could possibly want for your bike.....I had a Saturday job there packing parts for mail order....the amount of stock they had simply wouldn't be believed nowadays!
I'll leave it there for now but the next stop will have to be Gus Kuhns showroom at the other end of the road to admire the Commandos.....

Offline tombeau

  • Resident Legend
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2008
  • Posts: 678
  • Karma: 6
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #1 on: 03.07. 2014 12:53 »
Funnily enough I watched "Blow Up "on TV recently. The main character drives past Pride & Clarkes. I couldn't believe how much of the street they'd owned. For a moment I thought were using a back projection on a very short loop.

Offline a101960

  • Wise & Enlightened
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2007
  • Posts: 1047
  • Karma: 12
  • BSA RGS BSA C12
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #2 on: 03.07. 2014 13:54 »
Quote
Mac Motors, a little shop with a good parts stock and usually a dozen or so bikes for sale, it was there I bought a Gold Star Catalina tank, bright blue with the island transfer on it that proudly adorned my A10 for several years! Mac himself was a very large, very bald and very dirty chap with a very relaxed attitude to the MoT test, you could wait in the café opposite whilst your bike was attended to, this consisted of a 10 or 15 minute wait until a lad would wander out, make a note of the reg and mileage, stare pensively at the bike, possibly light a fag and then wander back in.....etiquette required you to wait a few more minutes then on returning to the shop Mac would greet you with a lovely new certificate and congratulations on the roadworthiness of your bike!

I lived in North London. Enfield to be precise, and I too remember a place in Silver Street, Enfield Town. Matthews I think it was called. There were one or with mopeds in evidence, but his main business was air guns, both new and second hand. There was certainly no evidence of main stream motorcycling, but despite that he was an appointed motorcycle MOT tester. His method of carrying out an MOT was exactly as you described in your post.

There was two other motorcycle dealers in Enfield. D J Shepherd and Excel Motors. D J Shepherd was a BSA main dealer but they also carried spares for many other British bikes including Douglas and Sunbeam. Shepherds were also the Enfield BMC main dealer. They closed in the early 70’s, and in those days I was a committed Douglas enthusiast. I remember going in there around the time that they were closing down, and being offered a load of Douglas spares. I cannot remember now how much I paid. I do know that it was not a lot, and I was a very happy bunny.

Excel Motors went out of business in the early 80’s. Joe, the old boy that owned the business was a very helpful man, and he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of British bikes. He always used to wear his glasses propped up above his forehead. I never ever saw him pull them down and use them. I remember his favourite phrase was; “You boys, you never listen to what I tell you, do you?” always followed by “ If you were to listen to what I say, you would save yourself a lot of bother and money”. Excel Motors was a main dealer for Velocette, but he also sold and repaired BSAs. By the time Excel Motors closed down Joe was a distributor for the Meridan Co-op. Joe refused to have anything to do with foreign bikes. This business closed because Joe (who was getting on a bit) decided that he wanted to retire.

Other bike shops that I remember in the area, were. JA Lock (Ariel ), Moore’s of Tottenham (Triumph), E S Longstaff, at Edmonton they sold everything. I remember lusting after a beautiful Royal Enfield Constellation in their shop window. I vowed to save up and buy it. In the mean time I met my ex wife, and as so often happens I got married and  never got the Constellation. The money got spent on other things like a cooker a fridge, and stuff like that. Thinking about it there was also Turners at Palmers Green, another dealer who’s name I can’t remember in Waltham Cross, and two others one in Southgate by the Underground station, and one in Friern Barnet. Thinking back, what I find amazing is that I never ever remember going into any one of those shops and them not having what I wanted in stock.

John

Offline lawnmowerman

  • Resident Legend
  • *****
  • Join Date: Dec 2009
  • Posts: 619
  • Karma: 8
  • 1959 Super Rocket. Kent, England
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #3 on: 03.07. 2014 14:03 »
I have similar memories Rob, having been born in Orpington Kent and moving to Catford in South London at 18.

Bought my first bike at 15 - an AJS 500 model 18 from Sparts at St Mary Cray. Too young for a license then but used to have great fun riding round the back streets and back alleys (often 3 up as it had a rear carrier)  *smiley4*
After I got a license I bought a 650ss Norton from Bruce Daniels at Catford which had been tweaked and balanced by a guy called Hartley (not JR Hartley the fly fishing guy). Went like the wind!
I remember runs up To Pride and Sharks where you could enter in one end of the red painted parade of shops and go through loads of narrow corridors lined with all sorts of spares and gear and go up and down stairs and through connecting doorways and come out about 3 hours later half a mile down the road.
I also remember Deeprose in Catford who had a huge Enfield stock. The car MOT guy that worked there was called Cartwright or some thing like that. I can remember him down the ramp examining the undersides of rotted out bangers and he would say to the anxious owners waiting for their MOT "do youself a favour mate - take it away and burn it".
There was also Joe Francis in Eltham for anything AMC.
The last shop I remember in the area was Streamline at Dulwich where I bought a Yamaha DT175 MX for the commute to Central London.
Those were the days. A run up to the 59 club and a pie and a cup of tea on Chelsea Bridge and at the weekend, off to Johnsons on the A20 or The Nightingale at Biggin Hill.
1959 A10 SR
1938 Wolseley 14/60
1955 Ferguson TEF20 tractor
1965 Ferguson 135 tractor
1952 Matchless G80 rigid
1960 BMW R60
1954 Matchless G80S
1955 Ariel 500 VH
1951 Sunbeam S7DL
1960 Matchless G12 with Watsonian Monza
......and loads of lawnmowers

Too old to Rock and Roll but too young to die  (Jethro Tull 1976)

Online Topdad

  • bob hebdon
  • Wise & Enlightened
  • *
  • Join Date: May 2011
  • Posts: 2268
  • Karma: 32
  • l
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #4 on: 03.07. 2014 16:49 »
I think you could much about describe any town/city in england like that in those days . In liverpool we had city centre dealers and the smaller shopcum breakers . First off main dealer cundalls were on bryrom st just by the old mersey tunnel entrance ,massive stores only complex very well over stocked as was proved when they were forced to move ,the amount of pre war /m group stuff and accessories up for pennies was incredable. amc ,ariel and enfield was bob sergients moorfield remember getting parts for a twin pipe sq 4, i owned in '67 without raising an eyebrow, just like a '52 bike was a current model . Couldn't get new AMC stuff though!! Over on renshaw st was Victor Horsman again bsa trumpet lambretta velo and ist yam dealer in the northwest not much spares though ,over the road the Bee , suzuki and accessories ,the bee clock remained high over where they'd been until 2002 don't know who took it down but it had been a reminder to people like me of past times and further up on berry st there was Bill Hannah ,made a fortune importing reconditioned honda 50 cub's and sold every thing he could ,(beware wide boy ) still he funded a paton team in the TT ,  further out in aigburth was bill smith motors one of the first honda agents . Back along picton rd there were a fair few small dealers breakers ,prescot rd/lilly grove produced glynn davis ,never seen so many bikes in one house .
everton valley gave you at least 5 small breakers including grampian motors denny whelan's emporium , he was a case an absolute showman and very knowledgeable if it got to noisy in the shop he'd shout out " whos ******* this cat then " there'd be complete silence for a few mins as he carried on, plus you you had to watch out for his sadistic alsation ,crafty swine it was on a long leash but get somewhere where it knew it could reach go to sleep and with one eye open waiting for some fresh customer to chew ,mostly it got away with it but just now and again someone would have a spanner or something and if you whacked it hard enough it left you alone and would remember for the future they are     still trading in Crosby . also there is ben lloyds now bridge road motorcycles/hawkworth spares enfield and modern other stuff , can't think of anymore ,cheers BobH.
" rules are made for the guidance of wise men and the blind obediance of fools"
United Kingdom

Offline tombeau

  • Resident Legend
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2008
  • Posts: 678
  • Karma: 6
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #5 on: 03.07. 2014 21:36 »
There you go. Blow Up (1966)
First minute of this clip you see the Pride and Clarke shot. Think its actually been cut a bit, but you get the idea. Sorry if this bores you.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFExzPIUmjo

Offline kiwipom

  • Resident Legend
  • *****
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 751
  • Karma: 8
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #6 on: 04.07. 2014 04:28 »
hi guys, yes new all those places you describe unclerob, lived in Wandsworth after moving up from Canterbury. As a kid went to the Wandle school in Garrett Ln then on to Spencer Park, back to Canterbury for awhile then back to London also lived in Clapham/Streatham/Norwood, and finally out to N.Z. good memories,cheers     
A10.G.Flash(cafe racer)Honda 250 vtr. Yamaha Virago XV920.

War! what is it good for?Absolutely nothing, Edwin Star.
NewZealand

Offline duTch

  • Ricketty Rocketty Golden Flashback
  • Wise & Enlightened
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2011
  • Posts: 4540
  • Karma: 41
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #7 on: 04.07. 2014 08:56 »

 Memory Lane- are you kiddin' me. *????* *????*

 That's that place the that starts in the middle and goes either way, with a 'NO ENTRY' at each end....

.....unless you know how to drive a wormhole...TBC
Started building in about 1977/8 a on average '52 A10 -built from bits 'n pieces never resto intended -maybe 'personalised'
Have a '74 850T Moto Guzzi since '92-best thing I ever bought doesn't need a kickstart 'cos it bump starts sooooooooo(mostly) easy
Australia

Offline unclerob

  • A's Best Friend
  • ***
  • Join Date: Jul 2012
  • Posts: 214
  • Karma: 6
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #8 on: 04.07. 2014 09:41 »
Love the video clip...its just as I remember it! I think South London though must have had the biggest concentration of bike shops, I left out the Japanese ones, forgot to mention Taylor Mattersons in Balham and have a good few more to go....
From Gus Kuhns you could pop over Clapham Common to visit Owen Bros, with the stores presided over by Derek, an Anglo Indian who claimed to know every BSA part number by heart, stop at Russell Motors round the corner or head a bit further west where you could find Dresda in Putney or if your tastes were a little more exotic Leon Wallace Customs...
Or, if you chose to head eastwards there was Harvey Owen near the Elephant, Mundays in Brixton in case you were in need of a sidecar, Deeprose, Boyer Triumph, Paul Dunstalls shop....all of them within 10 or 15 miles of each other... 

Online Butch (cb)

  • Wise & Enlightened
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2010
  • Posts: 1574
  • Karma: 15
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #9 on: 04.07. 2014 11:41 »
You're all making me feel oh so young.

(Reckon I just scraped being conceived in the 50's)
Warning - observations made by this member have a 93% unreliability rating.

Of Bikes; various, including ...
'58 Iron Head Flash Bitza


Online Topdad

  • bob hebdon
  • Wise & Enlightened
  • *
  • Join Date: May 2011
  • Posts: 2268
  • Karma: 32
  • l
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #10 on: 04.07. 2014 12:16 »
Enjoy that feeling ! certainly was an interesting time though ,BobH
" rules are made for the guidance of wise men and the blind obediance of fools"
United Kingdom

Online groily

  • Wise & Enlightened
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2007
  • Posts: 1150
  • Karma: 19
    • www.brightsparkmagnetos.com
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #11 on: 04.07. 2014 17:45 »
It was an interesting time, indeed it was, even out in the sticks and away from the Smoke (if London is still called that these days). Down in Southampton we had various shops, Rafferty Newman for one (in other places too I think) and we had a place called SS Motorcycles in Bittern, which I remember very well for one particular reason: I was buying an Ariel VH from them (to replace the world's least reliable C15 now I had a proper licence), and came by to pay/collect/ride away on May 20th 1973. The guys in the shop were so broken up by the fact that Pasolini and Saarinen had just - literally, within minutes real time - been horrifically killed at Monza, that they couldn't be bothered to charge me the whole 100 quid, so I got the thing for 80. Really excellent machine - but I swapped it for my first café-racer A10 a year or so later - and lived to regret it. Not so deeply that I don't love the one I've got now, of course, which just goes on and on and causes no grief at all compared to that first one! (What's the equivalent of £80 in 1973 money today  . . .? Or indeed of the round £100 I paid for one of my AMC twins, another quite excellent machine which I still have, in 1976?)
Cheers, Bill
Bill

Offline Summerstownted

  • Active
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2016
  • Posts: 2
  • Karma: 0
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #12 on: 06.08. 2016 13:00 »
As a summerstown lad, what about the bike shop on the bridge at blackshaw, not a lot of stock, then garratt lane autos mostly japanese, putney bridge autos was a good source of brit bikes and no one mentioned  Claud Rye over wandsworth bridge, Cosmopolitan in the Old Kent Road, Millers of Mitcham, i used to take my dalmation to Chelsea, great friday night, never went to the services down the m4, Box Hill on Sunday or  run over to High Beach, then Streatham George Clarke near Telford Avenue. Purley Way was a great attraction unfortunately the local cop speed twins loved the place. I used to go back to Aldrshot on a Gold Flash, Alan Boyt from the junction being the owner, hope he is still a Flash enthusiast, me a Triumph 250, pre war with girder forks and missing bafle pipe. Yes our corner of London had bike shops galore, Elites had Laverdas for a while, loved them, out of my league. Now i thimk there was a bike shop in haydons road on the bridge that sold Harris frames, but cannot find any info. , enjoyed the memories, one last one West End autos near the Mayfair, where did they all go

Online RichardL

  • Outside Chicago, IL
  • Wise & Enlightened
  • *
  • Join Date: Nov 2007
  • Posts: 5270
  • Karma: 50
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #13 on: 06.08. 2016 19:55 »
Ted,

That was a different kind of introduction post.  *smile* Welcome to the forum and thanks for joining. *welcome* Did you notice you were responding to a two-year-old thread? Do you currently have an A7 or A10, or are you an A7/A10 enthusiast currently riding a pre-war Triumph? Regardles which, pictures are always appreciated (but not mandatory). Are you living near the area you've described?

Looking forward to more interesting history.

Richard L.

Plan on signing up for the world-wide 2020 DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDEon September 27, 2020. This year it's a solo or pillion ride in dapper attire. Watch website at https://www.gentlemansride.com for details.


Offline Summerstownted

  • Active
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2016
  • Posts: 2
  • Karma: 0
Re: Memory lane....
« Reply #14 on: 06.08. 2016 21:46 »
No, now live in the republic of ireland, love the place, but so few bike shops, fair number of meets. I gave up bikes early, but tr avelling into the city of london on the same train morn and night, same faces, i decided not for the next 25 years, down to the honda shop, i am no mechanic alas and came out with a VF400,wow why did i not do it before, freedom, i would arrive at the office full of enthusiasm, though some of the staff did not appreciate this born again biker, this was of course back in Tooting. Jumping the gun after my ancient 250 i moved on to a thunderbird withva chair as my mum had received so many complaints regarding my driving. The thunderbird was okay it came from george clark in streatham, it was fun we did a 360 degree spin,  and very few would sit in the chair. We also had a tiger 90 prewar which was stripped down every year by our friend Fred Fry, a difficult man to understand, bought a new bonnie took it back to triumph as it would not do 120mph, the tester said it was okay, until asked what speed he had achieved. He worked or the late Roy Salvadori as mechanic. Unfortunate i did not go down the bsa route, fred was Triumph only. Next disaster was a bathtub triumph, that shook and rattled with dodgy electrics, oh for a flash. Now slightly too old 80 next year and wife and son of 15 watch over me, working on it, memory lane took me back. The day i lost out to a flash from clapham south to the clock tower, throttles wide open, over 80mph good job no one got in the way. Alas more senible now, super site many thanks