Owning a historic machine and being interested in its history are two sides of the same coin for many of us, so I particularly enjoyed the following story from a member who has recently acquired a Douglas with a remarkable history. To the new owner – thank you for sharing this story!
I recently acquired a 2 ¾ HP and, after a fair bit of research, I have been able to trace the name of the original owner – John Elias Dakin, born 1891 in Llanidloes, Wales. The bike was registered to him on the 8th January 1921 having been purchased from S P Davies Motorcycles in Llanidloes. They were mainly an ironmongers in 1920 but had ventured into motorcycles. It is an ex-WD model and although it has 1916 on the timing case, the engine and frame numbers suggest that it was manufactured in 1918. John joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in 1914 and served in the 1st World War at Gallipoli. His family think he may have been a dispatch rider, but if not he probably saw a good number of Douglas bikes, which may have sparked his interest. He was discharged in 1920 and purchased the bike soon after. For some reason he only used the bike up until September 1928 and for the next 34 years it was sadly left stored in a garage until he died in 1962. The bike was then sold to the second owner who was a friend of the family. He didn’t have a motorcycle licence and never made any attempt to get one, so the bike was never used on the road. He mentions in a letter to me that when he bought the bike he merely cleaned the plugs and put in some petrol and it started first time, so why it was not used after 1928 remains a mystery as clearly there was no mechanical damage. The petrol tank after all this time was apparently corroded and leaking, but as he was a teacher of sheet metal work he made a new tank in sheet brass. He regularly transported the bike to various shows around Hereford and Wales, which gave him the opportunity to ride the bike around the show arena. In 2002 the bike was sold to the third owner, but yet again it was never used on the road and again left stored until I bought it back in August 2020, so hopefully, apart from the tank, most of it is as it was after being refurbished by Douglas for civilian use, a century earlier.