A fag stuck to his bottom lip

Published: 04:23PM Feb 11th, 2016
By: Nigel Devereux

In regard to the reminiscences in Pete’s Prattle (OBM December) I thought readers might be interested in the attached photo. 

A fag stuck to his bottom lip

A rider on a Norman B3 Sports leaves the premises of Brook Motor Cycles, Chatham, around 1959.

It shows Brook Motorcycles in The Brook, Chatham, Kent, and was taken around 1959.

The bike is a Norman B3 Roadster with the 250cc Villiers two-stroke twin engine. The shop specialised in Villiers-engined bikes, particularly the Normans that were made further down at Ashford, and was exactly as you mention, with a small showroom at the front and counter at the rear, with the obligatory counter man/mechanic in a light brown coat-type overall who always seemed to have “a fag stuck to his bottom lip”.

The owner, Mr Paice, was a large, portly man but he always wore a suit and was really the salesman. The picture was forwarded to the Norman club by the daughter of the proprietor.

I tried to buy a new Norman B4 Sports as a 16-year-old in December 1961, but was told the bikes were built in batches and that at that time, “it wasn’t the B4’s turn”.

In reality TI Raleigh, which then owned Norman, had closed down the factory the previous autumn and transferred all the left-over spare parts to the Midlands to assemble a final batch in the spring/summer of 1962, and then Normans were no more.

Brook Motorcycles would get any bike rather than lose a sale, and I ended up buying an Ambassador Sports Super S from them.

When demand for bikes dropped in the mid-1960s, the shop finished with the motorcycle trade and became a car accessory emporium, closing down completely some time later when Mr Paice retired.

Tony Gutteridge,
Membership secretary, Norman Motorcycle and Cycle Club

Read more letters in February’s edition of OBM
 

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