Monday, 10 March 2008

#021 H.E. Buttlers

My dad had acquired a property – number 44 & 46 College Street, (formerly Alan Buttler Cycles) this had two houses and a garage. One house was empty, the other was let. We moved in the early part of 1946 into the empty house bringing the youngest boy with us.

The war was over (in Europe May 8th) and some of the lads came home and started racing again, they were to be a strong force to be reckoned with in 1946. The shop was getting busier, spares where gradually getting easier as firms changed from war to peacetime production. Most people had “bikes” so the workshops where very busy. We also had a delivery of our first post war new motorcycle a B.S.A. 250cc sidevalve model. The only difference from pre-war that it was fitted with the new telescopic front forks (the idea being obtained by the undercarriage from aircraft, if fact Dowty made the front tele forks that were to be fitted to the early Velocette motorcycles). It was difficult to obtain motorcycles and bikes at this time but we managed quite well. “Sun” Cycle Co were very good to us as was Elswick Hopper Cycles and especially Claud Butler in Clapham Manor Street in South London. Claud supplied us with cycles and plenty of rims and hubs, both standard and sprints. Unfortunately he ran foul of the Inland Revenue, failing to pay them Purchase Tax on goods supplied to his customers. Claud had an excellent frame builder, who built all Reg Harris Frames and forks. Claud also built me a Reg Harris replica frame and I also ordered a similar frame for Bill Thompson and Ron Minton.

Holdsworthy Factoring Co where also a good firm for lightweight spares as was Ron Kitching of Harrogate and Harry Moseley of Birmingham. Standard cycle parts where obtained from Lloyd & Co and Joseph Bourne and E Reece & Co all at Birmingham. By this time we had got our pre-war Morris 8 series “E” ready for the road, it had been used as a store for mudguards during the war. My dad would not use the car during the war has is idiom was that we should not fritter away petrol when the Merchant Navy were having tankers sunk by submarines every day. We had the car painted by Tom Oakley & Sons of Queen St - it looked like brand new. As parts were hard to obtain locally we started to go Birmingham, Coventry and London to collect same. Its seems incredible now that we could leave an order with the various firms in Birmingham at 9 a.m. and pick up the parts the same day around 5.30 p.m. Most factories were open until 6 p.m. So the route was first to Triumph at Meriden, on to Francis Barnett in Priory Street, Coventry where the stores manager packed the order whilst you waited, he had all the part numbers in his head, most of these dedicated men were walking computers. (When computers were eventually installed, service went out the window, we had to post our orders and then wait three days for us to collect). After leaving Francis Barnett we went through the lanes after Stonebridge X roads to Royal Enfield at Redditch. They had a different lunch break to the other firms i.e. they closed from 1 till 2 p.m., Enfield also completed your order whilst you waited.

On leaving Enfield next stop was Ariel Motors who also did a ‘while you wait’ service. We then stopped at James and Watsonian leaving our orders. On to B.S.A. in Montgomery St., our orders were left there. Then a mad dash down the A45 to Meriden to pick up our orders from Triumph. A smart return to Birmingham to go to Sun Cycle and Norton Motorcycles in Bracebridge Street, and Aston Brook St. Another mad dash across the city to pick the completed orders from Watsonian, James and B.S.A. We occasionally went to Velocette in Hall Green and every time to a Motor Cycle factor named John Milverton & Son. They always made us a cup of tea, they were first of all located with Watsonian Sidecars, and eventually they moved to premises in Coventry Road. They were excellent suppliers of Motor Cycle accessories. With the car loaded to the roof and the boot jammed solid we would head for home. On arrival at the shop about 7 p.m. there would be a queue waiting for the parts we had brought back, what a mad scramble that was, sorting each person’s specific needs. All this augured well for the future as word got round the whole Nottingham and Derby area that at last someone was prepared to give the customer good service. It is little realised now that no shop could sell any goods below or over price, there were government regulations called the “Retail Price Maintenance Board” so the competition those days was to give top class service, this was how our business prospered . (Retail Price maintenance was abolished in 1964 by one vote in Parliament)

1 comment:

Geoff S said...

What a wonderful account of all the motorcycle manufacturers there used to be. Most of my dealings with Buttler's was as a motorcyclist in the 60s and 70s.

I worked in Coventry for 3 years when Triumph, Francis Barnet etc were all up and running.