BSA adventure riding Europe in 1956

Discussion in 'Photos' started by BritishRedneck, Jun 21, 2018.

  1. BritishRedneck

    BritishRedneck Adventurer

    Joined:
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    3AFD45E3-A3E0-40E2-BF92-13902EA301AD.jpeg 7411AF7C-714B-420D-A780-DB352C988C73.jpeg 96270EC5-F114-4A96-A522-8564019E272D.jpeg B5D48ADE-F640-493F-B4D7-777BA91259A9.jpeg My mum came to visit us in Indiana from the U.K. and she’s finally found some old photos of my grandpa’s motorcycle trip through Europe from 1956!
    I was so made up that I had to share them with you guys!

    So my grandpa was born in 1935 in Wath Upon Dearne, Yorkshire.
    His dad was a miner and they lived in pretty much poverty, his Mum died in his teens, he and his dad were then looked after by his Auntie until he left home at 21.

    He went to work in the mines after he left school fixing the machines with his dad. But he really had a knack for engineering, so the coal board paid for him to do his engineering degree ( think he did that part time while working full time down’t ‘pit’. )

    He also saved up and bought himself a BSA motorcycle sometime around 1954-55. ( Mum and I were trying to remember if it was a shooting star or not)
    He had a couple of good friends from the mine, one of them also had a motorcycle (maybe a BSA).

    There weren’t really such things as vacations in England in the 1950s, I think people used to take off a couple of weeks in the summer to go to the seaside if they could afford it!
    Only the really wealthy could afford to travel abroad, to Europe for example.

    However my grandpa (just turned 21) and 3 of his friends from the pit had hatched a plan. They wanted to ride their motorcycles, 2 on each bike, around Europe. 4000 miles.

    None of them had left England before, they would all have to ask permission from their employer to leave for a few weeks (without pay) and hope they would be employed when they returned.

    No one in Europe at this time spoke English as fluently as they do today of course, and my grandpa and his friends had very thick Yorkshire accents and no foreign language skills!

    Riding 2 BSA’s heavy laden, 2 up, 4,000 miles taking in beautiful cities, mountain passes and probably plenty of hijinks along the way! (See my grandpa’s handmade map of their route)

    They were adventure riding way before adventure riding was a thing!

    He told me about the topless beach they found, and the roadside repairs they had to do.

    Unfortunately my grandpa passed away in 2006, I was heartbroken when he died. He helped me so much with everything and shaped who I am. I ended up being just like him, hands on, a mechanical engineer and a motorcyclist.

    I loved listening to his numerous stories of motorcycle riding as a youth, and he still rode (BMWs) when he tuned 70.

    The first photos are the Map, and them loading the bikes onto a plane just after or before a Morris Minor and a Ford Zephyr.
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  2. BritishRedneck

    BritishRedneck Adventurer

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    6BC4F20A-CBE8-4F99-ACF2-D12EE1666637.jpeg 55153B92-AB49-40E7-A880-EF6AE1284761.jpeg 42419E2F-0C61-44A9-8921-F262C1A6A2BA.jpeg 76D17D7A-E762-4963-82CF-10AD63684CD8.jpeg So here’s the bikes.

    I might actually have some of these photos mixed up. As apparently 4 of them went in 1956 on 2 bikes. Then in 1957 he went again just 2 of them and the bikes were even more heavy laden.

    My grandpa is the guy in the color photo in front of the mountains and in the second photo.
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  3. BritishRedneck

    BritishRedneck Adventurer

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    Here’s all four of them taking turns to get group photos in front of Trevi fountain in Rome.
    Grandpa is the check shirt guy on the left in the first photo and in the 3rd and 4th photos below.

    5DB6A3D1-85E1-440F-96F4-FB5A95DE786E.jpeg C53EE3C8-7145-4FAB-A218-BD50A55F8652.jpeg 9EC98618-1966-4B3B-83D4-424C118E2E13.jpeg E3706648-BFD8-4D17-910C-707EFB783615.jpeg
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  4. BritishRedneck

    BritishRedneck Adventurer

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    I don’t know where these dancing ladies were but I think these 4 English chaps were a hit with some of the European women, haha. 6C153529-A24D-4D00-8F39-7806E29F6852.jpeg 70FD28AB-93C6-40ED-BB85-46F7B4A0B1AC.jpeg

    Here’s grandpa sometime in early 80’s riding on vacation in Spain I think.

    AA1C12D0-C67C-4D14-9E96-268191A7A1A1.jpeg

    Then in his 60s still riding abroad (here he’s in france I think) enjoying a few local beers.
    E71B7927-5081-447E-B329-9936C134E557.jpeg
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  5. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    Very cool! Thanks for posting.
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  6. Electra2

    Electra2 n00b

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    Really?? Just two of us posting??!?

    These photos are amazing and I really appreciate your sharing them and describing what's going on. My bf and I are in the beginning stages of planning our European moto vacation next summer and things seem a little complicated/overwhelming...plates, green card insurance (that may or may not arrive in time ), other things.... I'm old enough to remember simplicity in everyday life and looking at these pics made me happy...just a bunch of guys heading out for moto adventures.

    Thank you for sharing!
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  7. Beezer Josh

    Beezer Josh Moto-Amish

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    Wow, first that I've seen this thread. Thanks for taking the time to put it together! It can't tell if it's an A7 or an A10.
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  8. BritishRedneck

    BritishRedneck Adventurer

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    Thanks for the kind words!

    I have to update this thread a little since I posted these photos.

    I’d also shared these photos with some friends, who reminded me that I could look up the number plate on my grandpa’s BSA (OWX 200) in the UK DVLA database to see if it was taxed or otherwise which would say if it was still around.

    It showed up as SORN which is registered off the road, so it could be in someone’s possession, complete, rusting away in a shed, or just a pile of parts in boxes.
    Still very interesting.

    But you can’t find out who actually owns a vehicle through the database.

    Another friend of mine suggested I try some owners clubs to see if I get anywhere.
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  9. BritishRedneck

    BritishRedneck Adventurer

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    The BSA owners club website wasn’t much good, but the BSA owners Facebook page was more successful.

    Within a few hours someone got it touch to say he recognized the mountain pass as Susten pass in Switzerland. A google image search later I had found the same spot where my grandpa had stood, I could if I wanted to retake that same photo someday!

    Overnight a chap on the FB group sent me a photo, something very special indeed!

    8BD42B07-E14D-4496-A633-7A4D007C7E21.jpeg
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  10. BritishRedneck

    BritishRedneck Adventurer

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    Yep that’s my grandpa’s bike!
    The number plate and the year checks out.

    It’s had some restoration and modification to make it a six days trials replica.

    The strangest thing too was it was up for auction, to be held only 4 weeks later.

    The auction was at the National Motorcycle museum in Birmingham on July 26th, 200 motorcycles/lots and my grandpa’s BSA was lot 97.
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  11. RimBenty

    RimBenty Bender of Rims

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    Awesome story! Thanks for sharing.

    What would have been even better is if you were able to purchase his bike and then take the same trip he did on it.
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  12. Beezer Josh

    Beezer Josh Moto-Amish

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    It says sold. Did you buy it?

    I'd love to find my grandfather's '50s Triumph Thunderbird. Unfortunately, I don't even have a serial number. That's really pretty cool you found his specific bike.
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  13. BritishRedneck

    BritishRedneck Adventurer

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    I’ve not finished my story yet! LOL

    It was a long 4 weeks waiting for the auction to come.
    My dad and uncle went down to it and met up with the guy who found the bike for us!

    So yeah they won it, and it’s now sat in my parents’ garage!

    Strangely it’s been sat in a garage for the last 7 years just down the road from my grandpa’s childhood home.

    The next step is to find some original parts, the fuel tank and perhaps the rear fender/luggage rack and make it adventure ready.

    Then I’m planning to go over to the U.K. in 2020 and ride the same route he did in 1956 on his bike.
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  14. BritishRedneck

    BritishRedneck Adventurer

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  15. Beezer Josh

    Beezer Josh Moto-Amish

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    AWESOME!! :thumb
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  16. conchscooter

    conchscooter Long timer

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    Mind boggling story, locating the original bike and so forth. I'm waiting for 2020 now to see how it goes. The cars loading into the aeroplane reminds me of my childhood when I went to school across from Lympne Airport in Kent. We used to see aircraft loading cars and motorcycles in the same way and seeing these pictures makes me wonder why it isn't still done. Not that my father ever took advantage to fly me to Le Touquet for a hot French weekend when I was ten...
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  17. BritishRedneck

    BritishRedneck Adventurer

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    Wow that would have been quite a thing to watch as a child!
    I did see on one photo Silver City Airways on the loading ramp, a quick Wikipedia search later and I can find out the plane was a Bristol superfreighter. Like you say they operated out of Lympne.
    I don’t know which airport they flew from, it’s not clear from the map.

    I’ve got a couple of U.K. friends who said straight away that they were ready for the trip now! Never mind waiting 2 years!

    If anyone else fancies joining us in 2020 let me know!

    Most likely I’ll be taking a small tent and camping along the way, possibly a couple of BnBs.
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  18. TropicalDale

    TropicalDale The Adventures of Peter Pan

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    :clap
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  19. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    To have the story, to find the bike, to buy the bike & to retrace your grandfather's steps is nothing short of a miracle. You'll have a one-of-a-kind a story to pass on to your grand-kids. I'll be watching from my northern Indiana home when you go so make sure you post the trip up on ADV for the rest of us bike-bums to see.
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