For some time now when ever my wife and I are out, if we see an antique shop/antique emporium we are total suckers for a browse around. With us both being ‘children of the 1950s’ there’s something slightly odd and slightly amusing about seeing so many household things things that were a normal everyday part of our childhood now being traded in these emporiums – certainly makes you realize that you have racked up a few years on the planet.
When we are in these places we always try to seek out old motorcycle books and/or magazines and over the last few years I have picked up a few interesting bits and pieces. I wrote about a couple of my favorite ones back in 2018, which you can see by clicking this link.
A couple of weeks ago we called to the Manchester Book Fair that was being held in the fabulous Gorton Monastery just a few miles outside city centre Manchester. It was the first time that the Monastery had hosted the Manchester Book Fair and it was an easy decision to decide to call in and have a browse.
The book fair was decent enough – and we managed to find a couple of items to buy – a copy of the July 1954 edition of The Motor Cycle magazine and a copy of the 40th Anniversary souvenir edition of the Journal of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club (published in 1986).
It’s the former magazine that is the pick of the two and at almost 65 years old it makes for fascinating reading. There is so much in it that makes for wonderful reading – some of the articles seem almost as relevant today as they would have been at the time of publication, I particularly enjoyed the two page spread called ‘Journey Into Scotland’, which sets out a tale of a couple traveling two up on a C10 BSA motorcycle – there were more than a few of the place names mentioned in the article that resonated with me and my many trips to Scotland over the years.
The actual format of the magazine if not worlds away from the magazines of today ie: Editorial, adverts, road test features, letters and news of events etc.
The adverts themselves make for an hour or two of superb reading/study – one of them (a full page spread) features the Royal Enfield Meteor 700 which is billed as ‘the outstanding motorcycle of today!’ The text of the advertisement is worth noting as well:
A machine which will thrill the enthusiast who wnats a fast and powerful mount for solo or sidecar work, ample power, right through the range, braking which matches the performance , superb suspension. Strikingly finished in NEW polychromatic Copper Beech, the Meteor 700 will give its owner wonderful all round performance with traditional Royal Enfield dependability, then just above the address of the Head Office and Works the strap line ‘MADE LIKE A GUN‘
Other adverts are incredibly revealing of the costs of motorcycling in the 1950s – road tax of just 17s and 6d a year (less than a £1:00); a brand new Jawa CZ 148 for a purchase price of just over £134 (including the purchase tax); two piece ‘racing leathers’ for £22 or £28 if you wanted them made from horsehide.
Other items that are advertised are not too disimialr to those you would see in many of the current motorcycle magazines: goggles, helmets, gloves, pannier bags, batteries, tools and so on and even in the 1950 after market parts included better seats, improved windscreens and so on.
The classified adverts for used bikes are fascinating: a 1952 Triumph Thunderbird for sale at £169 and any number of various BSA models at prices from £120’s or so.
All in all an excellent find and hours of reading enjoyment!