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BMCT News Newsletter of The British Motorcycle Charitable Trust

April 2009

Race Retro at Stoneleigh After a one year absence the BMCT was represented at one of Europe’s premier classic motorsport shows – Race Retro at Stoneleigh. Although this is predominantly a car based event, the new organisers have put a lot of effort into building up the motorcycle content. The result was a much larger bike display in Hall 3, thanks in no small part to the presence of a number of exhibits from one of our affiliates, the National Motorcycle Museum. The theme for this year was the celebration of fifty years of the Bonneville, and the star attraction was the streamlined Triumph that took the world record to 214.7 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1956,

Trustees Malcolm Aldridge Steve Bagley Paul Barnes John Handley Mike Jackson John Kidson Ian Walden OBE Peter Wellings (Chairman) Registered Office Rodborough Court Stroud GL5 3LR Registered Charity No. 509420 Administration Andy Bufton/MMS Holly Cottage Bishampton Pershore WR10 2NH Contact details Tel: 01386 462524 Mob: 07754 880116 E-mail:

A 1959 Bonneville with the NMM’s Triumph streamliner in the background

Inside this issue: Race Retro Report


Black Country Motor Co.


Coventry Book Launch


Members’ Corner


Race Retro Pics


Coventry to Brighton Sammy Miller Honoured


Sunbeam Success


Dearden Norton


Brian Wood


an achievement immortalised when Triumph adopted the Bonneville name for its new twin-carb roadster in 1959. Elsewhere in the hall was a tremendous display recalling the achievements in road racing of Joe Potts, famous for the Potts Nortons ridden to so many successes by the top riders of the fifties and sixties like Bob McIntyre. On the Velocette Owners Club stand were a number of KTT models, and also the Venom which took the world 24 hour endurance record at Montlhery at an average speed of over 100 mph. This bike, once part of the BMCT collection, has been beautifully restored by Ivan Rhodes since the fire at the NMM. Other displays were mounted by the As s o c i a t i o n o f P io n e e r Motorcyclists and the Historic Honda Collection. The live stage was also situated in Hall 3, where the BBC’s Steve Parrish did a good job of compèring the show and interviewing the guests, among whom was Mick Grant, who actually started his racing

career on a Velocette. Interestingly Mick’s old Velo has been discovered in Canada and brought back to the UK by a Velocette enthusiast, so we may well see that bike at shows and events next year. Our stand featured a very rare 1928 AJS overhead camshaft 350, kindly loaned to us by the Black Country Museum. Although not initially successful, this model was subsequently developed (along with a 500cc version) into a race-winning machine. One look at the engine layout shows that this was an early forebear of the very successful AJS 7R racer. The equivalent of a production racer in its day, this bike would have cost the princely sum of £62 when new.

Steve Parrish stopped by the BMCT stand to try the ohc AJS for size

The Black Country Motor Co. The latest phase of development at the Black Country Living Museum has now opened to the public. The Black Country Motor Company building is based on a garage that once traded in the area under the name of Bradburn and Wedge, and apart from a showroom containing cars and motor cycles from the museum’s collection, also provides storage and workshop space for the army of volunteers from the Marston Heritage Trust who beaver away quietly restoring vehicles of all kinds so that they can take their place in the displays. The building was part-funded by a grant from the BMCT, in conjunction with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, and is situated at the top end of the museum site, next to the trolley bus turning circle. The BMCT is also involved with the next stage of development, an extension of the New Birmingham Road area of the museum, which will contain a replica of a 1930’s motor cycle dealership with showroom and small workshop at the back, approached through an

alleyway. These new developments are set to greatly enhance the interpretation of the motor cycle exhibits at the museum, and will dramatically enhance the experience for visitors. The Black Country Museum currently attracts over 270,000 visitors each year, and of course BMCT members are admitted free.

A view of the new Black Country Motor Co. building

Some more images from Race Retro 09

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New Coventry Book Launched The book is an in-depth study listing an A-Z of motorcycle manufacturers and marques and focuses on the people who were the driving force behind firms in the City from as far back as 1895. 1947 Grand Prix Triumph with its modern equivalent, the TT winning 600 Daytona

Another GP Triumph, Percy Tait’s from 1968

Bol d’Or winning Triumph Trident

Coventry Transport Museum now has an author in its midst following the launch last month of a new book funded by grant aid from the BMCT. Motorcycle Project Officer and Archive Researcher Damien Kimberley has been a member of the Museum team since 2005 when the Museum and the British Motorcycle Charitable Trust joined forces to create the post. Damien has been working on a four year research project into Coventry’s motorcycle history, the culmination of which was the creation of a new motorcycle gallery, opened in April 2007, and his book entitled Coventry’s Motorcycle Heritage.

Starting with just a rough Museum list of suggested motorcycle manufacturers Damien’s painstaking research began with working through the list, removing some names but adding many more as further research was compiled. Masses of new information was also gathered from various sources including the Museum’s archive, interviews, and descendants of some of the key people involved in the industry in Coventry. The book includes many unseen photographs and company adverts. Readers will also be about to find out about world-famous names such as Triumph, Humber, Rudge and Francis-Barnett as well as details of the more obscure makes including Alert, Dart, Kingsway and Windrush. A feature of the book is a Coventry motorcycle timeline covering key events from 1895 right the way through to 2008 which highlights the profiles of three key people associated with motorcycles and Coventry: Siegfried Bettman, one of the co-founders of the Triumph Company, Bert Yates, an early motorcycle racer, and Muriel Hind, a pioneering female motor cycle rider and journalist.

Coventry to Brighton Members Corner Velocette 24 Hour record breaker

The “Tribute to Joe Potts” display

The Warwickshire Section of the VMCC had some nice machines on show

The Warwickshire Section of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club are inviting entries for the 2009 Coventry to Brighton Run. The event is in its 48th year, and is a non-competitive social run, open to members of the VMCC riding machines manufactured before 1979. There is no set route, but to avoid congested areas, a suggested route will be given to all participants. The Run starts from Coventry Transport Museum on Saturday 25th April, and hotel accommodation is available at Brighton for those who wish to stay the night and return the following day. The event organisers are Kathy and Graham Alexander, and they can be reached on 02476 397962. Commemorative awards will be presented to all riders, and entry fees are £6.50 for pre-1931 machines and £12.50 for 1931 1978 bikes. Closing date for entries is April 10th, so be quick.

Bill Faulkner Joins BMCT Well known Oxfordshire enthusiast Bill Faulkner signed up for BMCT membership whilst visiting Race Retro 09 at Stoneleigh. Bill has a large collection of vintage, veteran and classic British bikes which we hope to be featuring in a future edition of the BMCT newsletter.

Bill Faulkner signs up for membership on the BMCT stand at Race Retro 09

Damien Kimberley, author of Coventry’s Motorcycle Heritage and researcher at the Museum said: “I am delighted to see my book on the shelves of the Museum shop. After many, many hours spent dusting off company records and sifting through old photographs from the Museum’s archive, it’s great to see the end result in print. “ Coventry’s Motorcycle Heritage will be sure to appeal to anyone with a general interest in motor cycle heritage and also to those with an interest in Coventry’s social and industrial history. The 160 page book is available to buy now from Past & Presents, the Museum’s shop, and from the publishers, The History Press.

Damien’s book was officially launched with a photo-call at Coventry Transport Museum. Among those present was BMCT Chairman Peter Wellings, seen above receiving one of the first copies of the book from the author.

NEW MEMBERS We welcome the following new members and supporters of our Charity: Jim Reynolds Neil Randell Keith Weston Jeremy Leavers Michael Bassett Richard Bradwell Terry Burgess Andrew Tweedie Scott, Whiteside Peter Rickman David Trollope Robin Williams Darren Williams Craig Williams Don Nicholls John Wright Vince Cottingham Ivor Jones Keith Holdaway Roy Goodfellow Leigh Joyner Alan Bloomfield Ian Kingswell Bill Faulkner Colin Taylor Justin Burrows W E Reid Adrian Burrows

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April 2009

Sammy Miller Honoured

Living motorcycle legend and BMCT member Sammy Miller has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List. Sam’s award, cheered by motor cyclists everywhere, is in recognition of his services to motorcycle heritage. Founder of the Sammy Miller Foundation Trust Motorcycle Museum, Sammy has worked tirelessly, restoring over 400 rare and classic motorcycles. Born in Ulster, Sammy is probably the world’s most successful trials rider of all time. For eleven consecutive years (1959 – 1969, six on Ariel, five on Bultaco) he was the British Trials Champion and twice took the European title. It is estimated that he won more than 1,400 trials events during his long and successful career, which covers road racing, sand racing, grass track racing and winning championships in all. Sam of course continues to be active in motorcycling, still winning after a remarkable competitive span of more than 50 years.

Although best known as a trials rider, Sam went on to assemble an envied private collection of motorcycles which he formed into a museum in 1983. The museum has now been placed into a trust to leave behind a legacy for future generations. The museum near New Milton houses one of the finest collections of fully restored motor cycles in the world, including factory racers, exotic prototypes and memorabilia spanning seven decades of motorcycling. Sammy’s famous Ariel with the registration GOV 132, without doubt the world’s most famous trials bike, holds pride of place, as not only did Sam design the bike, he went on to win hundreds of trials competitions.

by touring and through demonstrations. Sammy has devoted his entire life to the sport and demonstrated a lifelong commitment. The Museum is testament to the fact that Sammy is not just an outstanding sportsman but a very skilled restorer, ambassador and custodian of motorcycle history.

Said Sam, “I am extremely honoured to receive this award and would like to express my thanks to all those who have supported me over the years.” The BMCT is proud of its association with Sammy Miller and his wonderful museum in the New Forest which, don’t forget, our members can visit free of charge. We wish Sammy all the best for the Historically important exhibits future and look forward to coninclude the only working world- tinuing our affiliation for many championship winning AJS more years to come. Porcupine, the 1939 495cc AJS V4 (the first to lap a Grand Prix course at over 100mph) and a 1905 Norton, the oldest known Norton in the world. The collection is constantly updated and each new addition requires a full renovation to which Sammy devotes 12 hours a day, enthusiastically toiling away in his workshop alongside his Chief Restorer, Bob Stanley. Through his efforts, Sammy has personally ensured the survival of many rare British bikes which he shares with the public

WEBSITE UPDATE The trustees of the BMCT decided at their recent board meeting that development of the proposed members’ area of our website should be discontinued and the extra content destined for that section be made publicly viewable. This means there will be some interesting changes to the website in the near future, so keep checking for the latest updates.

Sammy among the superb exhibits in the Racing Gallery of the Sammy Miller Museum, and (top left) with the newly restored REG

Success for our Sunbeam at Ally Pally Show The Trust’s 1939 Sunbeam B24 Sport won Best Bike of the Show at the recent Classic Bike Show at London’s Alexandra Palace. The bike featured on the London Motor cycle Museum stand, and the guys from the LMM also took the award for Best Classic with their Triumph Tiger Cub. The Sunbeam is now on permanent display at the museum, which is planning some exciting developments for the future now that they have secured a new 25 year lease from Ealing council, who own the land on which the museum stands. The objective is to have one hall dedicated to Triumph, another for the best of other British bikes, and a third for marques from the rest of the world.

The BMCT’s Sunbeam B24 Sports model which scooped top honours at Alexandra Palace

The British Motorcycle Charitable Trust Holly Cottage Main Street Bishampton Pershore Worcestershire Phone: 01386 462524 Mobile: 07754 880116 Email:

Preserving the past...for the future

Who are we…? The British Motorcycle Charitable Trust was originally founded in 1979 as a means of raising funds to establish what was to become the National Motorcycle Museum at Bickenhill, near Birmingham. By 1995 the museum was well established as a successful commercial venture, and it and the charity became separate organisations. A new board of trustees was appointed to manage the assets of the BMCT as it pursues its objective to preserve and promote British motorcycle engineering heritage. Our funding comes from bequests, donations, membership fees and interest on our reserves. We have an expanding network of affiliated museums that we assist with projects, and we also own a growing collection of rare and unusual machines which can be seen on display at various locations throughout the country. Our members enjoy free entry to all our affiliated museums for the very reasonable sum of £20 a year. To enquire about membership or to find out about how you can help the trust through a donation or bequest, please contact Andy Bufton at the address on the left.

Visit our website at:

That Dearden Norton… The picture of the Norton at Mallory Park in the last newsletter prompted this reply from BMCT member Jim Reynolds: That Dearden Norton you picture is a bike I know quite well, having tested it some 20 years ago for `Motor Cycle News' and planning to revisit that pleasure in the coming year for `Classic Bike Guide.' It's a 500cc International and belongs to a member of the North West Section of the VMCC. It was originally built by Reg Dearden to a customer's special order, because the Bracebridge Street factory had dropped the model from the range and as Reg had cleared out the Competition Shop of virtually everything overhead camshaft, he assembled it from a huge stock that overflowed his shop in Chorlton -cum-Hardy in Manchester and was partly accommodated in Blackpool. It is a quick Inter, which one would expect from a man who built so many rapid motorcycles. I know Reg's son Nigel, who remembers his Dad waking him on his 10th birthday and saying: "Right, you're into double figures, so you can start earning your keep," before getting him working on Manx Norton components. Apparently the camboxes would be warmed in the kitchen oven before assembly, to ensure a good fit of components when the assembly cooled.

Brian Stanley Wood 1931 - 2009 We are sorry to have to announce that Brian Wood, past chairman and trustee of the BMCT, passed away on 5 th January 2009 after a long illness. Brian grew up in Birmingham and became involved with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he managed to talk a neighbour into giving him a decrepit old 250 cc New Imperial that was being used as a hen perch. Brian stripped and rebuilt this bike to running order and so began a lifetime’s fascination for motorcycles which he managed to fit in with a varied career as an engineer, nurse, heating contractor and nursing teacher. His collection grew over the years until ill health forced him to scale back, but he refused to give up his beloved military bikes and rode them until well into his seventies. Many were the times Brian would prolong BMCT board meetings by drifting off the subject into some long but fascinating motorbike related anecdote – those meetings somehow aren’t the same without him. Brian was 77 years old, and leaves his wife Barbara, a son and daughter, and three grandchildren, to whom we extend our condolences. R.I.P. Brian.

Dates for your diary 13 April Red Marley Hillclimb, Great Witley, Worcestershire 19 April Dragon Roast at The London Motorcycle Museum 25-26 April Coventry to Brighton Run from Coventry Transport Museum 25-26 April Stafford Classic Motorcycle Show 14 June Bikers Day at the Sammy Miller Museum 19-21 June Donington Park Classic Revival Meeting

More details at

Edited and published by Matchless Management Services, Holly Cottage, Bishampton, Pershore, WR10 2NH

BMCT News Spring 2009  

Newsletter of the British Motorcycle Charitable Trust

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