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Summer, 1911 and a motorbike ride across England


I had intended all through the summer to go down to Torquay, but since my Douglas had had several accidents, eventually having its front fork smashed, I could not go till this week. On Monday 18th September, I went up to town to buy another motor-bike to go down to Torquay on, as my Douglas was hors de combat. I got a 1910 3¾ Premier, on which I tried to run down to Eastbourne. I got as far as Croydon and finished the journey in the train. I did not get the bike into proper order till Wednesday and then decided I would ride down to Torquay next day.

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 21st 1911

I was woken up by May at about five and proceeded to dress, with overalls etc. and before long had started off. I had no silencer on, as I had broken the thread of one exhaust pipe, so there was a pretty fair noise. I got as far as Brighton without anything happening, but then one compression tap blew out. I went as far as New Shoreham and there got a garage to plug up the hole. I then proceeded to Worthing. Just outside that town, my back tyre punctured. I mended it and started off again when it burst. I wheeled the bike through the town to some garage and then went off to get an inner tube, which I got after some trouble. While this was being fitted, I had breakfast.

I then started off for Arundel. I went one mile and the new tube burst with a loud report. I was rather bored. I took it out and put back the old one with an enormous patch on it. I never thought it would last as far as Arundel but it stood up for 700 miles, till the time I sold the bike. Moral: “Buy a Patchquick”.

Arriving at Arundel in due course I proceeded towards Chichester. About two miles outside, my compression plug blew out. I made the best of my way to Chichester, where I consulted a garage. They suggested my screwing a sparking plug into the gap, hoping I would buy one of theirs. I disappointed them by producing a spare one of my own, a Lodge. I might remark that in my opinion that is all Lodge plugs are good for. I then proceeded to Fareham where I had luncheon, whilst a garage changed my back tyre to the front, having previously taken off the front one to put it on the back wheel.

Belt drive - not the best

Belt drive...

After leaving Fareham it began to rain, and my belt broke. However I eventually arrived at Southampton, crossing over on the steam ferry. As it was now well on in the afternoon I thought it would not be advisable to try and do the remaining two hundred and fifty odd miles to Torquay. So inquiring my way to Lyndhurst, in a fairly short time I arrived at the Grand Hotel, where we had stayed the summer before. I might remark that by this time both my brakes were disorganised and I was obliged to tie my stand up with string, as it kept falling down. Upon working it out, I found I had accomplished the journey from Eastbourne at an average of eight miles an hour. This is a splendid tribute to the excellence of the Premier motorcycle.

Walking into the Grand I asked if I could have a room for the night, and in spite of my appearance they let me have one. After some time spent in my room, with the intention of restoring my general appearance to its usual standard, I went down and had dinner. Curiously enough my bedroom was the one which Enid (sister) had had the year before.

After dinner I walked up into the village and got some books from the library, after spending an hour in consulting the girl there as to what books would be most suitable for me. As I was rather tired, I went to bed early, after looking up the trains from Salisbury to Exeter, and writing to Stuart to let him know I was on my way.

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