Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Kingswood Heritage Museum

Kingswood Heritage Museum

Being busy is one thing, but adding to it is just too much. I was in Chepstow a few days ago and visiting their local museum that had a special exhibition on antiquities from Assam. Also Gita was dancing at the cultural show that was organised along with the exhibition. Needless to say I was in the dance troop too! No motorcycles to see at that museum but not too far away from where I used to live is the Kingswood Heritage Museum. It is a small museum that traces the industrial development of that area of Bristol. Kingswood is where Douglas Motorcycles were made and the purpose of my visit there. The site of the Museum is an old brass foundry with remnants of the kilns and the slag heap that was turned into sculptured grottos. At the museum are 5 Douglas motorcycles and an interesting Vespa scooter with a big box sidecar on it. 

The Douglas Bantam is a lovely example of an everyman bike with panels to enclose the engine. In the course of production some were fitted with Villiers engines instead of Douglas’s own design two stroke. There was a very nice MK IV and a couple of Dragon Flys. 

I had never seen a Bartrun Fairee but there is a 1908 example of it and it was full of innovation with a clutch and coupled front and rear brakes. The brake lever is exceedingly long! Reading some of the information about Les Bailey who teamed up with, of all people, Granville Bradshaw  and in 1912 who helped build a 350cc racing Douglas.

Over the end of May Bank Holiday the Douglas Motorcycle Club along with the Vintage Motorcycle Club have an annual ride out that starts from the Museum so if you are around that weekend it would be worth paying a visit. The Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday each week from 2pm to 5pm. I found another book to buy, this time on Douglas motorcycles by Peter Carrick. I have read histories of the Mark from Jeff Clew, a view from when the people were still around to talk to and some of his personal recollections and that from Mick Walker a much less coloured transcript as it was written much later. I have yet to get started on the new book that contains a great number of interesting photos. I have an affinity with Douglas Motorcycles as my Father worked there in the machine shop for a few years and, because he had a driving license, would be pulled out to test the 80 pluses and 90 pluses when they were short of test riders. While at the Museum I had a good look at the Dragon Flys and made an observation of how long the induction tract was with that single carburetor. It was not surprising they were not very responsive. Velocette had a similar problem when they tried a single carb on the Valiant. Velocette had to use twin carbs, perhaps that is what was needed on the Dragon Fly?

Getting back to the London Motorcycle Museum on Monday the 1946 Triumph GP racer had returned from the Classic Race Bike meeting at Donnington as was in the Minter Cafe to get up close and personal with. I’m not sure how it got on but it didn’t look as thought it had been thrashed around a race track. No oil leaks!! I managed to take a few close ups before it gets back on its display position.