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A Shout From The Attic: My First Motor Cycle

...I spun the motor bike round the field, bouncing over the hummocks, having great and reckless fun. And that’s when it stopped. It stopped dead! I hit the kick-start pedal time and time again, but it would not roar into life...

Ronnie Bray was able to ride his first motor cycle for less than a day.

For lots more episodes of Ronnie's engaging life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on his page.

Nanny and Mother answered an advertisement in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner for a second hand motor bike selling for £12 10s 0d. It was a black BSA with petrol tank mounted gear change, and it looked like a gift from heaven when I first saw it. I got my license and drove my bike up to Salendine Nook to show to my friend Peter West.

There was an anti-aircraft gun emplacement at Salendine Nook, where the High School now stands. After the war, the accommodation huts at this camp were used as corporation housing. Peter West and his family lived there for some time. It was in the fields around Pete’s house that I took my first motor cycle for a rough ride. This shook the ignition timing all over the place and the bike never went again under my ownership.

There is something grand about a motor cycle with the gearshift lever on the petrol tank and I enjoyed flying up Trinity Street, through New Hey Road and onto the old gun emplacement to find Pete West. We went into the field where the thin round grass grew and I spun the motor bike round the field, bouncing over the hummocks, having great and reckless fun. And that’s when it stopped. It stopped dead! I hit the kick-start pedal time and time again, but it would not roar into life.

My leg got sore, my disappointment rose, and the sun began to dip toward the horizon. It was time to go home. Fortunately, it was all downhill to home except for the little rise from the Junction pub to the reservoir at the top of Trinity Street, so I got the bike home by coasting down with less speed and panache than I had when I had ridden up to Pete’s.

The bike stood against the back wall in our yard and refused to go. We knew no one who could fix it, and at that time none of us knew anything about ignition timing, so it was advertised in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner for about a fiver, and a man came, inspected it, paid the five pounds, twiddled about with a screwdriver, and then rode the bike away. We stood in the cloud of oily exhaust gases and wondered. I am still wondering.

I did buy another bike. This was an army yellow AJS ‘V’ twin from a house at Lowerhouses for four pounds. There was nothing wrong with the ignition timing, I made sure of that, but the pistons had seized and the engine would not turn over. Why I wanted this ex-army heap I cannot begin to imagine except that it was good to have things. I sat the bike at the bottom of the steps into the back yard next to the dustbin – a prophetic placement – and sat on it from time to time. Eventually, I sold it or gave it away for scrap.

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