Tuesday, 11 March 2008

#039 Back to Work

On our return from Ireland (May 1953) the shop was very busy, We were appointed Main Agents for N.S.U . Motorcycles and the famous “Quickly” Mopeds, these were delivered in containers of 24, they were so popular, most were sold before the crates were open. After filling in licence forms etc it was off to Derby for the road fund license. We also had the Greeves and Lambretta Scooter Agency and had built up quite a good business for spares especially for the “goodies” for scooters, these were chrome leg guards/spot lights/ fairings/ carriers and other enhancements that took the youngsters fancy to personalise their machine.

We had to have a day when we collected parts from London. And we would leave Long Eaton about 9am, a ‘short cut’ had been sussed out through London - over the Vauxhall Bridge to Camberwell, on thro’ Dulwich, a toll road up to Crystal Palace, on to the A23 and so to Lambretta at Croydon in one of the old Airport buildings. Orders were left there for us to pick up before 5.30 p.m. the same day. Next stop was NSU at Hammersmith. Arriving there via Putney, past W.F. Holdsworth Cycle Shop and so over Hammersmith Bridge and to NSU, here we had to leave our spares order for collection later. Occasionally we had to go down to Southend to collect parts from Greeves Motorcycles at Thundersly just off the A3.

We had now acquired a new Ford Transit Van and this was a vast improvement on the Bedford van and the series E Morris 8. (We actually carried Lambretta frames in the Morris 8, all we had to do was remove the passenger front seat. With all the parts collected we came back in like Christmas trees, just enough room for the driver, luckily we had no mechanical trouble).

I remember one day with the new Ford “Thames” van loaded up to the roof when the bottom hose blew, although this hose is in a very awkward spot I did manage to get it off, I walked to the nearest emergency phone box, rang the A.A. and along came a breakdown truck, he had every bottom hose but the one we wanted! it was too late to do anything about it so there was no option but to stay the night until the local Ford stockist opened at 8am. I was away 10am and back at the shop by 12 noon where I was confronted with a queue of customers waiting for these parts and special Lambretta accessories. We did not have much trouble with transport, the only occasion apart from the blown hose was in 1960 when we bought a new Morris 1800 cc “Land Crab” .

I was driving towards Putney bridge when on changing down to negotiate the left hand turn to take me along side the south of the Thames, there was aloud bang a piece of metal came through the top of the bonnet. I got out of the car, crawled underneath and found that the clutch thrust plate bearing had crashed through its housing, also from underneath the car, I could see the long queue of traffic which I was holding up. As the car was still on the descent I let it roll down the hill towards Putney Bridge. I engaged top gear and it fired, I was then able to drive from there to Staples Corner at Hendon just prior to the M1, but the traffic lights stopped me and the car was on an up gradient. I rang the AA and out came an Irish lad with a Land Rover. After a technical discussion we suggested he drive the 1800, while I and his girlfriend who had accompanied him on the call-out, push started the car, then he drove the 1800 on to the M1 with me following in his Land Rover.

He negotiated on to the M1 stopping at a down gradient where we changed drivers and he and his girlfriend gave me a push. All he wanted was £5 tip. It was then more by luck than judgement that I was able to drive the 1800 to Long Eaton much to the amazement of the Morris dealer there. We had many trips of this sort down to London especially when we had a spray room built, this enabled our Lambretta specialist to buy earlier Lambretta scooters and do them up almost as new and being cheaper we could not get enough, this was the time of the “mods and rockers” We were one of the few shops who catered for both. Digressing again I have jumped forward a year or two.

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