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Issue 26

March 2014


In This Issue:

A Cotton Comes Home Museum Appoints Director Festival of 1,000 Bikes Update Floods Hit Brooklands Coventry Redevelopment Bristol Classic Show Triumph Experimental Sunbeamland Update

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hat is thought to be the oldest surviving Cotton Telstar 250 cc racer (and certainly the only one remaining in Mark1 specification) has come back to its home city after fifty years, thanks to the efforts of The British Motorcycle Charitable Trust. The machine, bearing frame no. 5, surfaced in the USA some years ago and was restored by Bultaco West of Kentucky before being

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the clincher being the willingness of the Gloucester Folk Museum to accept the machine on long term loan (the museum is across the road from the site of the old Cotton works on Quay Street, Gloucester). Cotton announced the Telstar at the 1962 Motorcycle Show, and a works team was later set up to run the bike in UK and International races. Their big name rider was Derek Minter, and they also made

Lightweight TT, but unfortunately John crashed on fuel leaking from the tank breather on Minter’s bike as the pair approached Braddan Bridge in close company on the opening lap of the race. Minter went on to take 9th place at an average of 84.32 mph. The Telstar had a short life and was taken out of production at the end of 1966, overtaken by the influx of multi-cylinder Japanese customer racers. This Mk1 example still retains its wide fin barrel, twin Amal Monobloc carburettor set-up and six inch single leading shoe front brake. It would have cost £295 when new. Gloucester Folk Museum is situated at 99-103 Westgate Street, Gloucester GL1 2PG and entry is free. The BMCT will also show the bike at the Cotton 100th Anniversary celebrations at Brooklands on 20th July 2014, along with the museum’s own 1922 Cotton-Blackburne.

The collection of eight Cottons in Las Vegas. The Telstar is fourth from the left.

sold as one of a batch of Cottons to Lee Perry, a noted Californian Ferrari collector. For reasons unknown, eight of these bikes were offered for sale at a 2012 Las Vegas motorcycle auction. Telstar no. 5 was purchased at the sale by John Lawless from Philadelphia. John is a British bike enthusiast and huge Derek Minter fan who saw himself running the Telstar in vintage racing events stateside, but the mounting expense of running his Manx Norton as well put the mockers on that plan. John let the Cotton Owners Club know he might be willing to sell the Telstar, and in view of its significance both parties were keen to see the bike returned to the UK. The club put John and the BMCT in touch and a deal was rapidly concluded, with

a production racing version, the Cotton Conquest. The BMCT’s own trustee, John Kidson, was Minter’s team mate for the 1965

The Telstar ready to be presented to the museum, and (above) leaving the USA

Front page: Pictured at the handover of the Cotton to the Gloucester Folk Museum are (l to r) Sarah Orton (Curator), Ian Walden, John Kidson, David Rice (Curator), Steve Bagley, Paul Barnes, Councillor Colin Organ, Andy Bufton and Mike Jackson. (Photo by Noeline Smith).

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he following is a press release from The National Motorcycle Museum: James Hewing has been appointed

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Ltd). His key responsibilities were managing the organisation, with over 17,000 members, and developing and implementing key strategies including; building a

The new Museum Director of the National Motorcycle Museum aboard a Norton International

as Museum Director at the National Motorcycle Museum, based in Solihull. Following a successful 2013, particularly for the conference centre, directors of the museum are keen to continue to develop the museum during 2014, its 30th year of operation. James is a true motorcycle enthusiast, and has spent the last ten years as CEO of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club Ltd (VMCC


press release from the VMCC states: “It is with great reluctance that the Management of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club Limited announce that the Festival of 1,000 Bikes will not be taking place in 2014. Motorsport fans will be aware of the uncertainty that surrounded the future of Mallory Park in the latter parts of 2013, which placed the circuit operators (Mallory Park Motorsport Ltd) into administration in the autumn. The new operators, Real Motor Sport Ltd,

thorough online presence, developing new income streams, creating strategic partnerships, alliances and sponsorships, and retaining and recruiting members. During the decade he spent at the club, turnover grew by 86% and membership grew by 25%. Using the skills and experience he gained at the VMCC, James will be primarily responsible for day to day management of the museum were recently announced and we have full confidence in them, indeed our racing arm (BHR) already have a date in their calendar at Mallory Park this year. However because crucial months of planning and preparation have been lost we are not equally confident of delivering this prestigious event with the amount of time remaining. We sincerely apologise to all those members of the Club and to the many other enthusiasts who look forward every year to this event. The Festival of 1,000 Bikes, being widely acknowledged as one of the premier events in the motorcycling calendar, we did not feel we could proceed without full confidence of being able to offer an event of the high quality which is now expected from this

and increasing income opportunities by improving the digital offering, creating a “friends” programme and developing relationships with potential partners and sponsors. Nick Hartland, director of the National Motorcycle Museum, said: “Last year was a great year for us, and we are confident that, with James on board, 2014 will be even better. Having worked closely with him during his time at the Vintage Motor Cycle Club, I know he has some brilliant ideas for the Museum and I look forward to working with him to create an allround fantastic experience for our visitors.” James Hewing said: “After nearly a decade running the largest membership organisation in the world dedicated to old motor cycles, I am delighted to be able to bring my experience to this new role at the National Motorcycle Museum. I have worked closely with the Museum in the past and have always had a fantastic relationship with all the directors, including the late Roy Richards. I am both thrilled and privileged to be joining the organisation at such an exciting time.”

wonderful weekend. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors including Michelin, Footman James, Bonhams and Eriks for all their support in the past. Also to all the VMCC members and enthusiasts who have embraced the Festival and made it the unique event it has become. We hope to see many of you at our other events and shows throughout the year and look forward to making an early announcement regarding the Festival for 2015.” As we went to press Mallory Park announced their own Classic Bike Fest for 12th-13th July 2014 - the date originally planned for the Festival of 1,000 Bikes.


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teams of staff, volunteers and specialist contractors set to work to enable the Museum to reopen just a couple of days later than planned after the Christmas break.

five days after flood waters J ust invaded some of its buildings during the Christmas break, Brooklands Museum re-opened for business at 10am on Monday 30th December. With the River Wey, which forms the western border of the Museum site, rising fast on Christmas Day, staff and volunteers left their family

celebrations to move exhibits, vehicles and archives out of harm’s way, so that the damage caused by the inevitable flood waters that rose overnight was minimised. Boxing Day saw up to 18 inches (45cm) of water in the Edwardian Clubhouse and lower levels in the Motoring Sheds, but by the weekend most of the water had drained away and

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“Doug Hele and his development team 19621975” tells for the first time the full story of chief development engineer Doug Hele and his men at Triumph’s Meriden motorcycle factory (and later at the NortonTriumph research centre). Hele was Britain’s brightest and most progressive motorcycle engineer of the 1960s and 1970s. He transformed the

Museum Director Allan Winn said: “The damage could have been far worse than has turned out, thanks to the Museum team’s comprehensive disaster recovery planning, the selfless efforts of staff and volunteers who came in on Christmas Day, and to the massive flood compensation scheme which was installed in 2006 as part of the Mercedes-Benz World development next door to us. And we’ve been hugely impressed by the speed with which our insurers and their specialist contractors have responded to ensure that our site and buildings are cleaned and dried out.”

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handling of the 650cc Bonneville twin and developed the threecylinder 750cc engine used by both Triumph and BSA to launch 125mph roadsters, ushering in the original superbike era. Hele and his close-knit team turned Meriden’s Experimental Department into a world-class race shop. Successes included Daytona 200-winning 500cc twins, Production TT-winning Bonnevilles and the howling triple racers that won the Daytona 200, the Formula 750 TT, the Ontario Champion Classic, the Bol d’Or and the MCN Superbike series, all in 1971. Some innovative later projects, including a V5 engine, had to be

dropped when Meriden closed in 1973. As well as charting Hele’s achievements, the book describes the man, a brilliant mathematician and deep thinker with an open mind and warm heart who inspired respect and loyalty from those who worked with him. Duckworth gathered firsthand recollections from former colleagues in Hele’s Experimental Department: Development engineers Norman Hyde and John Barton, charge hand and race team manager Les Williams and the skilled fitters who translated Hele’s ideas into metal, rubber and glass fibre. Not merely technical, the text includes anecdotes evoking a happy

atmosphere at Meriden before things fell apart through no fault of Hele and his crew. Produced for Biker Miles by Oracle Publishing Ltd, this 208-page hardback contains 165 illustrations, some of them explanatory line drawings specially commissioned from artist John Hancox. It’s a must-read for anyone fascinated by development engineering or curious about the old British industry, as well as classic Triumph bike fans. Available from Norman Hyde at £30 + p&p on 01926 832345.

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M u s e u m back into public use as an exhibition, education and events space. When this work is complete, the Museum and Grammar School will be world-class visitor attractions that will bring people from far and wide to find out more about Coventry's fabulous heritage, as well as offering opportunities for local people to get involved in a wide range of activities. The Museum will also be able to run in a more efficient and sustainable way, thus helping to safeguard the future of Coventry's important heritage.


hanges are coming to Coventry Transport Museum. Following an administrative reorganisation which sees the Museum merging with the Herbert Gallery, the displays themselves are to be re-vamped, as the following announcement from the museum explains: From March 2014 until April 2015, Coventry Transport Museum will be undergoing a major £8.5m redevelopment project, which will transform and re-energise the museum, enabling us to tell the story of our City's proud motoring heritage in a world-class, innovative new way. We intend for the museum to remain open throughout the majority of this period, although

understandably, some areas of the building will be closed to the public whilst they are being worked on. Please keep an eye on our website to find out the latest information about which areas of the museum will be open when you plan to visit us. Our ambitious project, which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, will include significantly upgrading five current exhibition galleries, the relocation of the shop, the creation of a new entrance/ orientation space and new community engagement spaces. It will also include the redevelopment of our neighbouring Grade 1 listed, 12th Century Old Grammar School, which will be brought

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n our Stafford Show report in the last BMCT News we ran a photo of a 2¾ hp PV and promised more information on its maker. The company was founded as Elliston and Fell in 1911 with premises in Perry Vale, Forest Hill, London. Their initial offering was a sprung frame machine with JAP

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power, either single cylinder or v-twin. Changing their name to PV, they concentrated on v-twins for a while, before introducing in 1915 a lightweight powered by the then ubiquitous 269cc Villiers engine. An interesting Stanger v-twin two-stroke option was added to the range post-war, as well as other proprietary


During the majority of this time, the Museum will remain open to visitors, and there will, as always, be plenty to see and do whenever you choose to visit. However, as with any major redevelopment project, certain areas of the Museum will be completely closed to visitors whilst they are being transformed - with different areas being closed at different times throughout the project. There will also be a small number of occasions when we have to close the Museum completely for around two weeks at a time, although it is our top priority to keep these closures to an absolute minimum. If you are planning a visit, please be sure to check the website or phone on 024 7623 4270 for the most up-to-date information.

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engines from Barr & Stroud, JAP, and the air/oil cooled Bradshaw, like the one fitted to the show bike (right). The company’s last offering in 1924 had a Barr & Stroud sleeve-valve 998cc v-twin power unit, but by then the marque was in failing health and closed soon afterwards.


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Taking the prize for Machine of Most Technical Interest was this Vincent-HRD, used by Crosss Maufacturing of Bath to test their prototype 500cc rotary valve engine between 1935 and 1942. The Bristol branch of the Norton Owners’ Club took best club stand with this imaginative shop window, inspired by the date they were formed.

This beautifully finished Triton was one of many at the show.

61 years separate these two Kerry Capitanos (left) from their forebear above.

The “Nash Racer” New Imperial 123cc ridden by Harry Nash to seven World speed records in 1934. Later, with 150cc, it was clocked at 93 mph for the flying ½ mile at Brooklands. This was its first time on show for 34 years.

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e are extremely grateful to the Harper family of Evesham for their kind donation. Mrs Tracy Harper writes: “We would like to make a bequest to the BMCT in memory of my late fatherin-law Aubrey Harper. This year my husband and I celebrated our 25th

wedding anniversary and in lieu of gifts we requested a monetary donation to distribute to charities that are relevant to those dear to us who are no longer here to share the occasion. My father-in-law took part in the Manx Grand Prix in 1959 and 1960 on a BSA Gold Star. He passed his

Y o u love of bikes on to his three sons who have an eclectic collection of bikes between them. In the year before he died they found a 1956 Gold Star and gave it to him, he was able to ride it up until three weeks before he died suddenly at 67 years of age in 2002. My husband still rides it a couple of times a year with

great pride”. Records show that Aubrey Harper finished a creditable 52nd out of the 105 starters in the 1959 Senior Manx Grand Prix, in a race won by Eddie Crooks on one of Reg Dearden’s Nortons. However, Aubrey wasn’t among the finishers in the 1960 event.

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Have you restored a British bike, or brought a wreck back from the brink? Or had one done by a friend or professional? We’d love to hear your stories, see your photos, and share them with our members on these pages. Anything is of interest, from a humble Dandy to a thundering SS100. Please send your pictures and tales to Andy at the address on page 8. All material will be returned after use.

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In newsletter no. 22 we wondered what the future held for Sunbeamland, the now disused Wolverhampton factory building where Sunbeam cars bicycles and motorcycles were manufactured up until 1937. Well, it would appear that a local company has purchased

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March 30

South of England RealClassic Show, Ardingly, West Sussex

April 21

Red Marley Hill Climb, Great Witley, Worcestershire

April 23

H&H Classic Motorcycle Auction, Imperial War Museum, Duxford

April 26-27

34th Carole Nash Classic MotorCycle Show, Stafford Showground

April 27

Bonhams Stafford Sale of Collectors Motorcycles and Memorabilia

May 10-11

British Historic Racing, Three Sisters, Ashton-in-Makerfield

June 8

VMCC Banbury Run, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwick

June 14-15

British Historic Racing, Mallory Park, Leicestershire

July 20

VMCC Founders Day, Stanford Hall, Lutterworth, Leicestershire

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the property from the previous owners, Urban Splash Ltd, and on 19th December 2013 they tabled a new planning application for the site’s “conversion and part new build for residential use”. If the application succeeds this would see the survival of the fabric of the main building, which is welcome news from a heritage point of view and for Wolverhampton itself.

Flat-tank enthusiasts look away now! This amusing “retro classic” (left) is the Sterling Autocycle, made by Black Douglas in Italy and powered by a Zongshen electric start 230cc motor. It weighs in at just 220 lbs. and allegedly will do 70 mph (if you’re brave enough). Prices start at a somewhat salty €9,500 inc VAT

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New Members We welcome the following new members to the BMCT: John Lagerway, Coalville Catherine Blachford, New Milton Samuel Blachford, New Milton Miss E Crouch, New Milton Mrs D Crouch, New Milton Tony Evans, Saltash Anthony Sharman, Torquay Robert Penfold, Bournemouth Christian Weir, Stroud Michael Slater, Tipton John Cooper, New Milton Mike Fordham, Evesham Rodney Hann, Sherborne Daniel Hayward, Wrexham Paul Griffiths, Eastleigh Ian Brazier, Gosport David Leggett, Yately Louis Loizos, Harrow David Kington, Stratford on Avon Justin Roberts, Tipperary Adrian De Rose, Warwick Geoffrey Sutton, Warwick Colin Backhouse, Totton Steve Dorning, Leamington Spa Dennis Fagg, Newport Ann Byles, Newport Roger Chapman, Bath Richard Hodgson, Stafford Thomas Hall, Wilton Alan Throssell, Chelmsford Steve Partridge, Lichfield Tony Barnes, Weymouth David Chamberlain, New Milton Alan Meredith, Rayleigh William Barton, Deeside Michael Barton, Mold Edmund Moore, Preston Richard Alton, Bromsgrove Paul Holland., Bromsgrove Daniel Towers, Henley on Thames Gavin Fagg, Newport Phillip Purkiss, Bromsgrove



Registered in England No. 01445196 Registered Charity No. 509420

Registerered Office: Holly Cottage Main Street Bishampton Pershore United Kingdom WR10 2NH

Phone: 01386 462524 Mobile: 07754 880116 E-mail: info@bmct.org


Preserving the past...for the future

The Trust was originally formed to facilitate the building of the National Motorcycle Museum at Bickenhill, near Solihull in the West Midlands, but since 1995 the BMCT has been an entirely separate organisation, a grant - making Charity dedicated to the promotion of British motorcycle engineering heritage through a network of affiliated transport museums throughout the country. Membership is open to all, and allows free entry to all the museums in the scheme. Our funding comes from membership fees, bequests, donations and income from investments. Please direct any enquiries to the secretary, Andy Bufton, at the address on the left.

Trustees: I N Walden OBE (Chairman) P J Wellings, S Bagley, T P V Barnes, J F R Handley, M Jackson, J N Jeffery, J Kidson,

FoTTofinders Focussing on the similar machine of Derek Minter just ahead, John Kidson accelerates the works Cotton Telstar out of Quarter Bridge, the only corner he took before coming to grief at Braddan in the 1965 Lightweight TT. Thanks to BMCT member Bill Snelling of FoTTofinders for turning up this photograph.

Profile for Andy Bufton

BMCT News Spring 2014  

A Cotton Comes Home and other stories...

BMCT News Spring 2014  

A Cotton Comes Home and other stories...

Profile for bmct.org