Friday, 21 March 2008

#078 - 1967 - H E Buttler Motorcycles

The business expanded its franchise  and signed   up to sell Yamaha and Suzuki motor cycles, we still stocked all the English models i.e. BSA, Triumph, Ariel, Norton, James Francis Barnett, Royal Enfield and Excelsior motor cycles, but Honda was still our best seller. The English manufacturers had their head in the sand not to realise that these Japanese would put them all out of business by 1971. Two shops  opened in Long Eaton in opposition to us, but we seemed to go from strength to strength. One firm advertised in all the local and national press, and customers came from far and wide to their premises for parts which they could not supply, consequently most of these new customers came to our shop. Queues to get in our shop on a Saturday were amazing and this went on most of the day. We had to set on part time staff to cope with helmet and clothing sales and of course spare parts.

We had a peculiar incident happen one year regarding Norton parts. Annually, in early October, the Goose Fair is held in  Nottingham and is famous in the Midland area or even further a field. Rides and sideshows there were astonishing (this is before theme parks like Alton Towers were popular). A black leather dressed young man came in the shop who was going to the Fair  and he asked to speak to me, he said he could obtain any Norton parts right up to a complete engine at much cheaper prices. I dismissed any thought of buying any as they were obviously stolen. Two days later a detective constable mate of mine Mick Rose, who was with Stolen Vehicles, came in the shop for a chat and in conversation he happened to say he was going down to Norton factory in Andover to investigate theft of complete engines. I told Mick about my conversation with this chap the weekend before, whereupon Mick asked if I would go down with him to Andover and visit the works. It was rumoured that a possible suspect worked on the “track”, perhaps I could recognise the man? Of course I agreed to go with him and we had a pleasant drive down.

We were introduced to the works manager who I had met before when he worked at Triumph, we started to walk round the works and I soon spotted the man in question but of course did not make any comment until we were out of sight. I then pointed the man out to Mick who  affronted him – and a confession followed. From there Mick had to report to the Stolen Vehicle Centre  at Hendon. It appeared some men were stealing the same mainly luxury class cars three times. They would steal a car, put on false number plates, spray it etc then sell it on. The same car would then be stolen again and the whole procedure repeated. The Insurance Companies lost thousdands of pounds. The Police at Hendon had evolved a plan which they revealed to  Mick for him to implement in Nottingham. All top secret cloak and dagger stuff.

The gymnasium was progressing favourably with a good, hard working turnout every week. An ‘over 40’ class was started in the grammar school basketball hall and that was also well attended, it was taken by a schoolmaster pal of mine Duncan Syson. My number one football team, Derby County FC with manager Brian Clough, had won promotion to the 1st Division and on Wednesdays my friend Gordon Woodward, Duncan  and I would travel all over the country to the away games - i.e. Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Newcastle, Sunderland, Sheffield and Leeds. We would pick Duncan up after school at Breaston which meant we did not leave until after 4 p.m. to go to these places, but with the  M1 to hand we seldom missed ‘kick-off’.

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