There were some fine machines on display at the VMCC’s Founder’s Day at Stanford Hall this year – but none finer, of course, than those on the Douglas stand. We had a prominent – if noisy! – position beside the main ring which ensured a steady stream of interested visitors throughout the day. Club members had brought a variety of machines from the inter-war years, showing the development from flat tank models of the 1920s to the more modern saddle tank designs of the 1930s, plus a ‘hand-crafted’ replica of a competition machine which drew some admiring glances! I particularly liked the 1929 L29 model in ‘touring trim’, ie: with leather suitcase strapped to the pillion.
Period pictures always fascinate me, and this one was sent by a visitor to the site who found it in a book about JAP engines, purchased in a charity shop. It is captioned ‘Biddy 1930’ and he wondered if anyone could tell him more about it. MP 7279 – a Middlesex registration mark – does not show up on the DVLA site and does not appear in the Douglas Club’s records, so it seems unlikely that Biddy’s machine has survived. Perhaps the state of that front tyre had something to do with it …
Sharper eyes than mine can probably identify the model but I think it’s an EW from the late 1920s. If you can identify the machine, the location, or even the rider – do leave a comment below.
A visitor to the site has kindly sent me two old photographs to forward to the Club’s archive – but they are too good not to feature here first! The photo above looks like a ‘works’ shot – but it’s the captions which intrigued me. It appears to have been displayed in an exhibition, and is captioned ‘Cyril Pullin’s 100 MPH Douglas‘. On the reverse, in pencil, someone has added ‘23rd March 1922 Brooklands 100.06 mph. 3.1/2 HP 494cc OHV Model S1, 68mm x 68mm. Les Bailey / Cyril Pullin. Cyril Pullin became chief designer.’
The S1 was, according to Mick Walker’s ‘Douglas – The Complete Story’, the star performer of the 1921 range. It was the first series production OHV model from Douglas and featured all-chain drive, a three-speed box, ‘efficient’ brakes and a ‘special heated induction system’ – possibly the sleeve and vertical pipe visible in the photograph, behind the carburettor? At £130, it was an expensive machine for the early 1920s.
But was this really the Brooklands racer? The mudguards, rear wheel with belt rim, rear stand and front number plate do not suggest a racing machine, yet the dropped bars and that impressive oil tank under the seat definitely do. More intriguingly, the front wheel is fitted with Douglas’ early disc brake with cable-operated aluminium caliper. But – the disc brake (more accurately, an inverted vee lined with friction material) did not appear until 1924, when it was fitted on the RW and RA models at the front and rear. At the rear, this machine is fitted with what looks like Douglas’ 8-inch servo-operated brake, which appeared on production machines in the middle of the decade.
So, I’m slightly puzzled by this ‘record breaker’! If you can shed any light on the story, please use the ‘Comment’ box below to let us know.
I was recently sent this lovely period photograph of a Douglas motorcycle combination with a Lodge Plugs ‘promotional’ sidecar. The machine looks like a 4HP model from the 1920s and appears to be on ‘trade plates’. The sidecar is rather harder to define, although it has clearly thrilled its ten riders and passengers! Novel vehicles like this were – and still are – used to promote brands, and Lodge Plugs created a memorable sight with this distinctive outfit. I wonder what became of it?
As a footnote to this story, Lodge Plugs were made in Olney, Buckinghamshire, and the building still exists today, although I believe it is now apartments. The Lodge name remains clearly visible on the wall. It’s curious to think that, when the photograph of the sidecar outfit was taken, this building was perhaps still less than twenty years old!
The London Douglas MCC will have a stand at the VMCC’s annual Founder’s Day rally. The event takes place this year on the 24th of July, at the usual venue of Stanford Hall in Leicestershire. This year’s theme is Flat Tankers / Veterans and Specials, so expect to see some fine examples of Douglas models from the 1920s and earlier! Full details of the Club’s stand and how to get involved will be published in the Club’s magazine, The New Conrod. Details of the Founder’s Day rally itself can be found on the VMCC’s Taverner’s Section’s website here.