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Motorbikes galore at the Tour of Birmingham — but what was the year?

By gavin jones  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

Anyone recognise this pairing?

Anyone recognise this pairing?

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THE BLACK COUNTRY and the wider Midlands have long been associated with the motorcycle. In the days before the Japanese marques virtually took over the market for themselves, there was a wide range of top quality two-wheelers made in our neck of the woods.

Wolverhampton alone could boast AJS, Clyno, Star, Sunbeam and Villiers engines; to name just a few of the best known.

Birmingham had BSA and Ariel, and Coventry had Excelsior and Triumph; now based in Leicestershire.

Virtually all the motorcycles available were made within a radius of a few miles.

So it’s no surprise that Birmingham hosted its own ‘motorcycle tour’, and we must thank reader and regular contributor Olive Bedworth for supplying these photographs from a tour which took place, we believe, in the nineteenfifties.

Olive’s late husband George was a fireman by trade but both a keen photographer and a motorcycle enthusiast in his spare time, and here are some of the fine photos he took during one of the Birmingham tours.

Amongst them are a Sunbeam, registered BD 4127, being lovingly buffed up by its flat capped owner; a couple of Nortons and an AJS. One quite robust-looking cycle, attached to a large, canvas- roofed sidecar, has no name visible, but will surely be recognised by some of our readers. The only bike pictured on the move, meanwhile, is also a mystery, at least to us. The name on the tank appears to end in’lti’, which would rule out the Italian Malaguti or Maserati. Any ideas, anyone? Most of those machines were getting on in years even at the time they were pictured, but if any of them are still around today, they’d be true museum pieces.

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