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Huddersfield is an important manufacturing town in West Yorkshire on the eastern slopes of the Pennines. In the 1950s it was in the West Riding of Yorkshire and the major interests in the town and to a certain extent now, are in chemicals and the woollen trade, with a big football following in both codes - Leeds Road for soccer and Fartown for Rugby League. The hilly nature of the area can hardly be considered as ideal cyclemotoring country. It had a large fleet of trolley buses for public transport services and these, like the nearby and very similar town of Bradford, climbed the hills almost effortlessly. Other places in the same county of Yorkshire, such as York itself with its flat terrain, certainly were far better for cyclemotoring and the older residents there tell of literally hundreds of little smelly machines buzzing slowly up the road when that City's railway works and two chocolate factories turned out. Cyclemotors were the first cheap and cheerful means of powered transport available to the population during the austerity days just after the Second World War and they certainly became a very attractive and low cost means of getting about.
Given the above parameters and the existence of the Huddersfield County Borough Council vehicle licensing records, a full survey of these records has been undertaken from the beginning of July 1949 to the end of June 1957, a period of eight years which spans that time which can be justifiably called 'The Cyclemotor Era'. The results of these investigations form the basis for this article.
Over the eight years concerned, some 347 cyclemotors were taxed in Huddersfield using the registration letter ranges ECX and EVH, FCX, FVH etc. through to LCX, LVH and MCX and although the town cannot perhaps be judged typical of other locations in so far as numbers are concerned, it is felt that the trends noted are indicative of the way in which other places also reacted to the rise and fall of the cyclemotor.
The first noted cyclemotor registration, in August 1949, interspersed with many autocycles such as the CycAuto, New Hudson, Raynal and ABJ, was a Mini-Motor and then what can only be described as an explosion occurred in the first six months of 1950 when no fewer than 52 Mini-Motors were sold and were presumed then to be found powering their way around the streets of the town. It was not until September 1950 that the virtual stranglehold of this make was broken by the first Cyclemasters and it was these two makes which predominated up to 1954. They were distributed by three firms in Huddersfield; Duncan Hoyle, Wakefield Road, Mold Green and Butlin Brothers, East Parade for Mini-Motors together with Hebble Auto for Cyclemasters. There were also the other odd individual makes such as a Corgi scooter in 1950, with a few others subsequently and Mosquito and Cymota in 1951 & 1952 and these continued to be interspersed with autocycles but the most consistent other cyclemotor at this time was surprisingly the GYS which subsequently became the Mocyc. It must be remembered that although the first of these was manufactured in Bournemouth, latterly they were made by Cairns of Todmorden, Yorks., only about 16 miles away - clearly a case of a local product finding favour with the local market. Oxford Street Motors were the distributors for these machines.
The first Power Pak came along in March 1952, credited to Smithy Garage. The first 32cc Cyclemaster was noted in July 1952, all those previously having being 25cc machines. The first Vincent Firefly was in September 1953 whilst one month later, the first BSA Winged Wheel appeared on the scene. With an initial influx of 71 machines in 1950, the yearly figures of cyclemotor registrations remained fairly constant until 1955 when the decline set in. Notwithstanding the falling figures, even at this late stage in the cyclemotor 'boom', there were still new types of machines taking to the road. The first Cyclaid appeared in December 1954, a solitary Cucciolo in February 1955 and then the first of two Norman Cyclemates, the underpowered Cyclemaster moped, was registered in June 1955. Other firms in 1951/2 to sell cyclemotors were Martins, Bradford Road (Cyclemaster) and Wiley Bros (Power Pak & Mosquito), whilst early in 1953, the Universal Radio & Cycle Shop in Brighouse and also Bradley Engineering were credited with 32cc Cyclemasters. Later in 1953, in the month of September, Wigfalls sold a Cyclemaster, adding several more in November of the same year. An unusual entry was a Vincent Firefly in the same month that was credited to Huddersfield Passenger Transport Department from Duncan Hoyle. One wonders whether it was for revenue protection purposes or some other more mundane task. Butlin Bros expanded into Winged Wheels and Fireflys whilst Martins also sold Winged Wheels as well. Unusually, the solitary Ducati Cucciolo was registered directly to the user, Mr. E.H. Raw of Fixby. Later, Duncan Hoyle's shop took on the Cyclaid and also the Cyclemate. During the decline, Mini-Motors (presumably by then the MkV gold coloured tank version) put up a late challenge and Vincent Fireflys (or should that be Fireflies?) were particularly popular right through the 1955/56 period.
For the last 18 months up to June 1957, only 9 machines were registered, these being 3 Cyclemasters, 5 Fireflys and the last machine of all, a Winged Wheel in February 1957. The firms involved with these last series of transactions were Butlin Bros (Vincents), Quarmby Garage, a new name, for one of the Cyclemasters, Duncan Hoyle (Cyclemaster and Vincents) and the final Winged Wheel by Butlin Bros, somewhat ironically, the firm which was first involved with the cyclemotor revolution when it started the eight years or so previously. As the registration of cyclemotors tailed off, mopeds such as the Mobylette and NSU Quickly, together with scooters like the Lambretta LD125 took over, and there were some minority makes like the Piatti (the Cyclemaster produced scooter), Kieft (from Holland), the German Heinkel Perle and Zündapp Combinette as well as the Mercury Dolphin (or was that Dolphin Mercury) as well. Butlin Bros continued to sell machines with obviously a different demand; they merely changed their product range and as well as Phillips Gadabouts and NSU Quicklys, also sold a disproportionately large number of Her-Cu-Motors in late 1957, for which there seemingly became a particularly high demand.
The total numbers of machines registered month by month were as follows:
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, March was the highest month for registrations. On the other hand, the winter months of December, January and February had relatively few, due no doubt to the weather not being very conducive to cyclemotor riding. Conversely, when one might have expected high figures, in the summer months, for example, the figures were consistently low, not only in the high summer but also throughout the autumn as well. It is quite possible that many potential customers were on holiday in August, when the factories and mills closed for their Wakes Weeks and that fact artificially reduced the demand - plus the necessity of having to pay for the holidays as well.
A spin off from this exercise has been a relatively large amount of information which has been handed over to Andrew Pattle for passing on to the Club's Registrations Officer, to add to his ability to date machines for members in the future, based on the knowledge of confirmed engine numbers/frame numbers with dates, for not only cyclemotors but also some of the rarer mopeds. This was more important in so far as the minority makes of cyclemotors were concerned as well, rather than Cyclemasters, Mini-Motors and Power Paks all of which have previously been very adequately number and date related. It was interesting also to see the many errors which had been made by the registrations clerks in entering the details of the machines in the registration books or on the accompanying cards. Engine and frame numbers were consistently transposed, incorrect capacities of the engines were also often quoted. Cases in point were Cyclemasters which were registered with engine sizes of 35, 45 & 49cc as well as the correct 25 & 32cc; MiniMotors came in 25, 31, 32 & 47cc (49cc correct) and Cyclaids in both 31 & 35cc sizes (31cc correct).
Having undertaken this not too difficult exercise which, admittedly took a little time - but what hobby doesn't - I believe it to be a first in the field of Cyclemotoring. I would therefore like to issue a challenge to other NACC members to do likewise and perhaps substantiate my findings or tell me my conclusions are totally wrong. In order to do this, first find out where your local City/County archive office is located which holds the registration documentation and then GET RESEARCHING. I wonder, can we look forward to other similar articles from the pens of other readers rather than mine in future issues of "Buzzing"? I certainly hope so.
The range of types featured go through rear wheel friction drive (MM & PP); rear wheel direct drive (CM & WW); rear wheel belt drive (Cyclaid); front wheel friction drive (GYS/Cairns Mocyc & Cymota) to bottom bracket mounted friction drive (VF, CUCC, Cyclemate & Mosquito). L'influence Française does not appear to have percolated as far as the Yorkshire Pennines since no VéloSoleX were recorded and, not surprisingly perhaps, neither were any Teagles, Lohmanns or Berinis. After all, a Cornish or Continental produced machine would have been a long way from home - but the Rolls Royce of cyclemotors, the Cucciolo, was - but no doubt its excellent reputation had preceded it. The remainder of the machines were, apart from the Mosquito, those which could be justifiably called Good British Products.
The makes by year were as follows:
GYS/CAIRNS: Early/Late version of the Mocyc.
PP: Power Pak.
VF: Vincent Firefly.
WW: BSA Winged Wheel.
CUCC: Ducati Cucciolo.
C'MATE: Norman Cyclemate.
First published - February 1993
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When Colin Packman saw the article by Derek Rayner in the February edition of Buzzing he decided that anything the Yorkshire can do, Kent can do at least as well. Therefore, he looked around the members of the Kent, E Sussex & S London section and decided that, because I have retired, then I must have plenty of spare time. Thus, I was lumbered with visiting the Kent County Record Office at Springfield in Maidstone to see if the Kent records of licensing vehicles had survived and, if so, whether the public was allowed access. They have, and they are, as long as you telephone beforehand to make an appointment. This I did, and I must say that I found Mrs Smith and her colleagues in the Archives Section to be extremely helpful.
I started searching from the beginning of 1949 as I knew that Trojan Mini-Motors, the first of that generation of cyclemotors, had appeared by the middle of that year. The first that I found was engine number A165, registered LKL 933 on 1st March 1949, and the second A184, LKL 989 on the same day. This was earlier than I expected as I have a letter to my father from Trojan Limited dated 9th May 1949 which says We regret that we are not able to accept orders for these cycle motors, due to the fact that the final arrangements for distribution are not yet settled. Both these first two Mini-Motors were registered to private individuals. The first had, most unusually, nothing entered in the Agent or Remarks column and the second had Makers. Almost immediately Deens Garage of Beckenham registered the third on 7th March, LKM 80, and this small garage featured very strongly among the early suppliers. During the year the registration letters proceeded through LKO, LKP, LKR, LKT, MKE, MKJ and MKK which are all very familiar to residents of Kent.
As I proceeded through a huge pile of books, I realised rapidly that to emulate Derek Rayner was going to take some time as I was extracting, as he did, the details of each cyclemotor registration so that I could pass this on to the Registration Officer. In fact, so far, I have only completed 1949 and have got well on the way to catching his nine-year total of 347 with 252 for Kent for 1949 alone. One thing, however, was easy, as 251 of these are Mini-Motors with the oddball being a VéloSoleX. Month by month the registrations were:
with the VéloSoleX being registered in May as one of the five.
Deens Garage was mentioned as one of the pioneers, and they actually registered 34 during 1949. I was very pleased to find that my father's machine had been registered by them as it was my memories of his that got me interested in our weird machines. The agent that registered the most was The Motor Mart of Folkestone who scored 69. George Grose Ltd supplied 21 and Redhill Motors, who used to be adjacent to the river bridge in Maidstone, supplied 11. Other well known dealers involved were James Grose Ltd, Pride & Clarke and Angus Motorcycles of Sevenoaks. Surprisingly, to me anyway, was the appearance of Selfridges Ltd with three and Bentalls Ltd with one. Quite a large number of small cycle and motor dealers supplied one or two.
In contrast to Derek Rayner's experience with Yorkshire, Kent does not have records of either the cubic capacity or the frame number. Confusingly, the column in the record books does specify Chassis No. Indeed, as far as real motor cycles go, they do seem to have recorded the frame no. However, for cyclemotors they actually show the engine number so future generations examining the record books may be surprised to find that Mini-Motors would appear to have had sequential frame numbers on their host cycles. This just shows how records could distort history.
As the owner of a couple of Mini-Motors, I was proud to note that we have one registered to a member of a foreign Royal Family. I can't somehow imagine the Princess Royal bombing around on one, however.
Altogether, I found this a most interesting exercise. Ones eyes get distracted constantly by the various exotic vehicles, including everything from Trojan cars to Rolls Royces, from invalid carriages to road rollers and from motor mowers to huge tractors. Thanks Derek, for starting this. I will endeavour to carry on through the years but this is going to cost Colin Packman a lot of beer at the Kent Arms.
First published - June 1993
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