Author Topic: 60s Motorcycle dealers  (Read 26683 times)

DBD34

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60s Motorcycle dealers
« on: March 31, 2013, 09:20:36 PM »
Having worked for B,Coles & Sons, Digbeth in the 1960s l would be profoundly grateful if anyone has photos of Birmingham dealerships of this era and would be willing to share them. Thanks in anticipation, Pete.

Akatarawa

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Re: 60s Motorcycle dealers
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2013, 11:11:19 PM »
Was B Coles & Sons run by two brothers ?  My memory is not so good now,  but if it is the m/c dealers I'm thinking of they used to have a vast collection of rusty old pre-war bikes from the 20s and 30s at the end of the yard.

Sometime around 1958 when I was at Lucas Great King St,  a motorcycling friend of mine said that the whole lot of the old bikes had been sent to the rubbish dump.

They would have been worth a fortune as collectors bikes these days. :)

Edit: I seem to remember the two brothers wore long overcoats down to their ankles, they seemed a bit odd.

Phil

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Re: 60s Motorcycle dealers
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2013, 12:58:00 PM »
Hi Pete
 
Welcome to the forum, were these the sort of things you were looking for, Coles Corner of course, Guests Quinton, Shovelbottoms Balsall Heath & Vale Onslo Sparkbrook,
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tony armstrong

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Re: 60s Motorcycle dealers
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2013, 01:07:27 PM »
im not sure about the two brothers in digbeth but i do remember vale onslow on the stratford rd which i think remains open vale onslow was the name of the orginal owners one them was still working there around 2005 and was over 100years old and appeared on this his your life with eamon andrews it was just after the queen mother reached her 100th birthday, his claim to fame was a motor bike called the vale onslow special his two nephews ran the shop for him and what they had in stock and what they didnt know wasnt worth knowing the old man used to sit in the shop and would talk to customers all about his knowledge of motor bikes he still managed to ride his bke on occasions wonderfull man O0

Phil

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Re: 60s Motorcycle dealers
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2013, 01:37:36 PM »
Although Len Vale-Onslow had six brothers I don't think any of them worked for him. It was just he and his wife to start, then his children and later his grandchildren. Len's wife died in the 80's and Len himself died age 104 sometime in the mid 2000's. I think the shop is now closed. This photo is another of his shops on Soho Rd Handsworth.
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DBD34

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Re: 60s Motorcycle dealers
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2013, 02:26:20 PM »
Akatarawa, Phil & Tony, Thanks for your interest, really appreciate it. I loved the whole biking scene in this era and working for Bob Coles was an amazing  time.
The shop was owned by brothers Bob & Ben Coles, Bob ran the showroom/sales side and Ben was involved with spares, new & used. A few names l remember are_ Stan & Brian on the spares counter upstairs, Mike Potter who managed the showroom, bad tempered Barry in the workshop & young Charlie up in the attic room relining brakeshoes in a fog of dust. I was officially showroom assistant but in reality l was the the gofer who drove the the old Norton sidevalve with box sidecar collecting/delivering bikes and spares plus being at everyones beck & call for mucky jobs no one else wanted to do.


Akatarawa -- Bob & Ben did wear overcoats & Bob was a very snazzy  dresser who drove an Armstrong Siddely Sapphire, both very nice men though who l never received a cross word from. There was a huge shed at the top of the road which was packed with really old bikes considered unsellable at the time, they were still there when l left & what happened to them l don't know, wish l had them now though.


Phil _ great photos, especially the one of Coles, being a spares gofer l used to know all the dealerships in B'ham and all/any photos and memories would be gratefully rec'd to jog my own aging memory, thanks again.


Tony _ Vale onslow of course was & is legendary, spent many, many hours there on the Stratford Rd, all these dealers were an intricate part of an era when Motorcycles were basic transport to many people and it will all be lost as us oldies pass on or go gaga.


Does anyone have memories of Alex's coffee and pie hut in Hurst St, another place where bikers gathered in their dozens every night of the week, loved the whole atmosphere of the place, chatting & checking out the bikes.

DBD34

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Re: 60s Motorcycle dealers
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2013, 02:34:21 PM »
Phil -- amazing, l lived in Handsworth so remember well Vale Onslows little shop on Soho Rd, in fact l used them to have my Ariel Red Hunter barrel rebored & new piston supplied after l had stripped & rebuilt it in my back yard, --as you did in those days, thanks again, Pete.

Phil

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Re: 60s Motorcycle dealers
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2013, 03:30:20 PM »
Pete
 
A good idea when looking for something is to type the name or place in the search box at the top right of the page and you will find that some places you ask about have been posted before.
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cocacolakid

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Re: 60s Motorcycle dealers
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2013, 04:33:28 PM »
I worked for Copes Motorcycles in the early 60s, as a salesman, but got bored with the paper work involved. I asked to be moved to the workshops as a mechanic. Sadly there were no vacancies at the time. However, I was asked to prepare Frank copes 250cc Manx Norton , ready for him to take it out to South Africa. eventualy I got a move to their sister shop as a Mechanic, in central B, ham, just down from the central fire station. Many of you will remember it as Motor Sales. Due to my membership of the Midland Motorcycl Racing Club, (we used to meet up at the Red Lion So Ho Rd Handsworth) I got to know the late Len Vale Onslow and his younger son Peter. To cut a long story short, I moved from Motor Sales to work at lens shop on the Stratford Rd, as a mechanic, Peter was my boss. I had a workshop within the corner shop shown in the previous picture, the window of which is out of site to the right of the main shop window.  There was another workshop there run by a guy named Bill. I became friends with Peter, and I used to prepare his scrambles bike for him, and went with him and his girl friend, Judy to the scrmbles at the weekends, to mechanic for him. Often after work, I would stay on doing unpaid work on the competition bikes, many times not leaving till gone one o'clock in the morning, building or modifying frames along with his dad, Len senior. I got to meet a lot of the top scrambles riders of the day, some of them calling in at the workshop. John Harris, who was one of the BSA works riders some times shared my workshop to work on his bikes. John was married to the daghter of Len.  Sadly, since Lens death, Vale Onslows has been allowed to get in a sorry state, judging by what I saw 3or4 yrs ago when I looked in there.  I still own and ride motorcycles.   Are there any pictures of Cope's motorcycles on the Hagley Rd,  Nr Bearwood Rd ?   also Wal Handley Motocycles of Holloway Head , where I bought my first motor bike, A 250cc Ariel Arrow with dolphin sports fairing. and C&D autos of Acocks Green, where I part exed the Arrow for a BSA C15. Or of Motor Sales, near the central fire station, B,ham.
 
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cocacolakid

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Re: 60s Motorcycle dealers
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2013, 05:27:14 PM »
I forgot to mention Colmore Depot Motorcycles, opposite the Alex Theatre in central B,ham. Aged 15/16 I used to go into the showroom and sit astride the Manx Norton Racer  they often had in the window, and dream. The Norton was owned and raced by the manager of Colmore Depot,  Albert Moule.  Albert raced bikes way back in the 40s and maybe even earlier, including the T.T. If anyone has photo's of Colmore Depot (especially any with the Norton in the window)  would be appreciated.
 
I am not sure, but have an idea that Colmore Depot took over Cole's Motorcycles in the 60s. or that Albert Moule had something to do with them ??
                                                                                                                          Malc.
 
 
 
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Spud

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Re: 60s Motorcycle dealers
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2013, 05:54:15 PM »
When Coles moved from Stratford Rd to Coventry Rd I seem to remember in  the early 70s they took on one of the first Toyata Car Dealerships. I remember buying a brand new Toyota 1000 from them I could hardly forget it they put the wrong Number Plates on it. I was tootling around Sparkhill one afternoon with the wife when I saw another car coming towards me with the same plates.Thinking I was imaging it I thought no it can't be. But low and behold when I checked the Log Book I had be driving around for almost 12 months with the wrong plates. Coles were quite amused when I took the Car back. :-\ 
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