Memories of Motorbikes and other Vehicles

My family 1928 - 2005

My dad on his motorbike in Laindon approximately 1928.
Mystery photo taken in the early fifties in Powell Road. Any ideas as to who they were would be very welcome.
They started young in my family. My brother Alan on his Mobo in the garden of Spion Kop 1953.
Our old jalope 'Ada' in the garden of Spion Kop 1962. My dad, George Burton, me and my brother Alan.
My brother Alan's first motorbike although it would be another four years before he could ride it on the roads. My dad on the left. Big brother Dennis sitting on the bike, Alan between them, Dennis's son Paul on the right. Neighbour, Norman Whitehead on extreme right.
Our go-cart, made by my brother Dennis. From bottom. Martin Burton, Paul Burton, Alan Burton and friends Ray Thomas from Bourne Close and David Whitelock from the Kathleen Ferrier estate.
Waiting patiently - Alan aged 15 with friend Ray Thomas. One more year to go - it will be worth it. That's Alan's budgerigar avery behind them.
Transport of a different kind 1973. My mum and dad, George and Jessica Burton. Me with my son Mark in the garden of Spion Kop with Ian and Patsy Mott's son's house in Bourne Avenue just visible in the background.
My nephew Paul Burton on his Triumph with a small pillion passenger 2005.
One very happy biker - Paul Burton 2005.

Motorbikes have featured in our family since as long ago as around 1928 when my father George Burton came down from London at weekends to stay at ‘Spion Kop’, the family’s plotland bungalow in Alexandra Road, the unmade part of King Edward Road. They had owned the plot since 1915. I have a treasured photograph of my ‘young’ dad on his first motorbike in the front garden, with his mother, Amy Burton and some other female relatives. I am not sure what they were doing, but it looks like a lot of fun. He also got his first car and driving licence while he was very young without having to pass the driving test, which I believe, didn’t came in until around 1937. He once told me that he couldn’t get his car up Crown Hill as the petrol would run out of the tank, so he had to turn the car round and reverse it to the top.

My older brother Dennis had a bright blue Douglas when he was in his late teens – his pride and joy. He started his National Service in 1948 and became a motorbike despatch rider in Germany, which suited him perfectly. On his return, he often went scrambling and dirt track racing with many of his friends, Bobby Richardson and Ronny Graves to name just two. I was only about 4 years old at that time and when I asked him where he was going, his answer confused me:  “Dirt track at Grays”. I didn’t know what he was talking about but it sounded like a murky uninviting place to me. He gave me a pillion ride once but I didn’t like it much. He could reel off a list of names of the famous bikers of the day, (Barry Briggs comes to mind), their machines and achievements because he was a terrific fan. His garage was an old air raid shelter in our garden known as the engine shed. He kept his bike in there, also a wind up record player with a stack of 78” records and a couple of deckchairs – a proper young man’s den. On one occasion, I ran in to see him, jumped into one of the deckchairs and heard a CRACK.  He shouted “Now look what you’ve done”. I had landed on one of his 78s and broken it in half. On another occasion when he has home on leave during the National Service, I woke him one morning by playing my music box close to his ear when he was having a lie in. His response was to shout to our mum “Get her out of here, I was trying to sleep”. Poor Den, I seem to have caused him plenty of annoyance when I was 4 years old. On reflection, in a deckchair was rather an unwise place to put a 78″ record. In the summer of 1951, he brought his future wife home to meet us, transported of course, on the back of his motorbike. After they married, their first family vehicle was a motorbike and sidecar combination. They progressed to a Bedford Dormobile, a Landrover and eventually a conventional four door saloon.

We didn’t have a car during my childhood, we rode pushbikes.  I travelled around on a little seat fitted to the back of my dad’s bike until I was old enough to ride one myself. My dad’s biking ‘uniform’ was cloth cap, gabardine mac and bicycle clips to stop his trouser legs flapping about. He rode in all weathers, often arriving home soaking wet and I can still remember the damp smell of his wet clothes as they hung drying in the kitchen. When my little brother Alan started school in 1956, he rode his bike along side my mum on hers, to and from Markhams Chase. One afternoon we were walking up King Edward Road on the way home from school, his PE kit was hanging from the front handlebar. He was riding very slowly in front of mum and myself, keeping pace, when the bag caught in the wheel and jammed causing the back wheel to tip up and throw him sharply over the handlebars onto the pavement in front with a crash, showing you don’t have to be going very fast to have an accident. It was quite a shock but although winded, thankfully he wasn’t badly hurt.

Mud was a big problem for Laindon bike riders in wintertime. With so many unmade roads, even mudguards became clogged up.  I remember having to dig mud out with a stick from under the mudguards of my little pushbike and woe betide anyone standing behind a motorbike that had got stuck in the mud because revving the engine could send the back wheel spinning, sending a spray of muddy slush high in the air, covering anyone in the vicinity.

Around 1960 my mum decided to learn to drive. She was enthusiastic and her son-in-law gave her a few lessons before she booked up with BSM. She bought a second-hand Morris, which she kept alongside our bungalow ready for when she passed her test.  She passed on her second attempt and loved driving around the village, although she needed to ‘double de clutch’ in the old style Morris. My dad didn’t drive again, he left that to my mum as she enjoyed it so much. Except on just one occasion when I was about 15. It was pouring heavily with rain when I came out from school at lunchtime, and was surprised to see him waiting at the school gates for me in the Morris. He drove me and our neighbour Norman Whitehead home to Alexandra Road. He was a bit rusty and graunched the gears once or twice, but we were very grateful as it saved us both from a thorough soaking. Mum later changed the Morris for a Ford Anglia which she drove for many years.

My sister and her husband were speedway fans. They took me to a few meets at Rayleigh Stadium to watch Rayleigh Rockets compete against Poole Pirates. Those events were extremely popular and very well attended. Rayleigh Rockets won most races, but Poole Pirates kept coming in second and third, thereby scoring more points and became the overall winners. In 1960, they took me to the Speedway World Championships at Wembley. It took ages to get there, as prior to the M25 being built, we had to travel via the North Circular. It was a very exciting evening. We watched as Sweden’s Ove Fundin received the cup. Amazingly, he had won the championship with a broken ankle strapped up tightly throughout the evening! Our own Peter Craven finished in third place.

My younger brother Alan got his first proper motorbike in 1968 when he was 16 and travelled to school on it during his last year at Laindon High Road School. That wasn’t unusual, as throughout my time at the school 1957–1962 there had always been a few motorcycles parked in the bike sheds belonging to boys in the 5th year. At age 16, a bike and an ‘L’ plate was all you needed and off you went.  When he was 17 he took and passed his motorcycle driving test – from then on he was able to have a pillion passenger.  The following year he passed his car driving test without having lessons with a driving school.   He applied for the driving test, put an L plate on our mother’s Ford Anglia and drove around with her accompanying him while he waited to be given a test date. It didn’t take long and he took the test in mum’s car and passed first time.

Alan and his friends often worked on old bikes in our garden, motorbikes, scooters, mopeds etc, got them going and drove them around the fields just for fun. (I did too sometimes, although never on the roads). He and his friends often tinkered about, helping each other with their machines, doing maintenance and repairs. Sometimes when I asked them what they were doing, they teased me and made me laugh by saying things like “We’re taking Geoff’s head off” or “We’re greasing Paul’s nipples”. Alan also acted as ‘mechanic’ to a friend of his who sometimes practised at Rayleigh Speedway Stadium. He and his friends used their motorbikes for several years to travel to and from work and I don’t blame them, as it was far more economical than running a car. The last machine he owned was in the early eighties, an old British make, BSA I believe.

I heard a story recently about a friend of my younger brother, known as ‘Chalky’ White (can’t remember his first name) who lived in Devonshire Road and made bespoke specials with very tall handlebars. Sadly, he died just a few years ago while still only in his fifties and at his funeral, all the guys on their specials turned up and parked in a line as a mark of respect.

I was never part of a motorbike crowd myself, but I have a great affection for them as they featured in my early life and there always seemed to be several in our garden in Laindon. I’m one of a dying breed who never learned to drive. I’ve never minded walking or taking a bus and better still, I’m more than happy to be chauffeured around by my husband. I’ve no regrets at all, especially when I see some of the things he has to contend with on today’s busy roads.

Dennis’ oldest son Paul was also a biker and had a bright red Triumph Sprint ST9551, which he rode from Dunton to Harwich in September 2005, an annual event to raise money for the Essex Air Ambulance. He had recently passed his advanced proficiency motorcycle driving test. Sadly, he was very ill at that time and passed away a couple of months later aged 53, so was unable to repeat his participation in the event which still takes place each year. His father (my older brother Dennis), sadly passed away in May 2010.  My fondest memories of them both with always include motorbikes.


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  • I lived in Billericay but used to go to Raleigh Rockets on my brand new Honda C50, which I got for passing my 7 ‘O’levels.
    I already had a NSU Quickly which I used to trial around the garden from the age of seven.
    Len Silver managed the Rockets and got a booing when he got the order wrong leaving only one bike in the last heat.
    The statium closed for redevelopment and I went once more to the new stadium built in Queen Elizebeth Park in Hackney.
    The opening event was an invitation international and I managed to slip in without paying through the delivery gates.
    Famously Simmo ran across on the warm down lap and punched Tomas Golob who had kicked his handlebar on lap 2.
    My grandad lived in Bowers Gifford and once buried an Indian V-twin as hard core under the driveway for his many vehicles, buses and Dormobiles.
    We dug it up when Idians became valuable but found nothing!.
    My uncle Ted lived in Bowers Gifford too and ran a Manx M50 sleaved down to 350 and a dominator frame with a Shorrock blower on a 1000 cc Imp engine and a
    Rayleigh three wheel bread van with motorbike handlebars.
    He added rear seats for his kids (6) and swapped the 750 motor for an A series that made it fast and powerful, It towed my dad’s Zephyr 6 home one day!

    By Crudgie (20/02/2024)
  • Note to Ken Elliott – Derek Jeakins had the furniture shop next to the Laindon Hotel. He also had a removals firm with several lorries plus a large number of general haulage trucks, self drive hire vans and taxis. He was at one time the largest removal contractor in the area. Chris and Michael Jeakins also operated a taxi company, C & M Taxis, they may still be running, but not living locally for a number of years, can’t say.

    Clive Jeakins, same age as myself 68, we went to LHR together, ran a company of self drive hire vans and trucks that may still be in business, again I can’t say. So to your question ” are there any Jeakins still about” the answer is yes, loads of them! Don.

    By Donald Joy (14/10/2015)
  • With regard to the picture in Powell Road, I have the original photograph, the gentleman is my father David Hornett

    By Denise Hamilton (née Hornett) (11/06/2014)
  • Well Brian, your note certainly struck some chords! We used to go to Rayleigh Speedway Stadium, our hero was Jack Unstead, cannot remember much else about it. I am sure Denny would have some tales if you jog his memory. I mentioned Chrissie Jeakins over on My Pages. His dad was George, he had a Bedford lorry with a tubular framework on the back, covered with a canvas tilt. He used to do Removals with it. Chris’ Grandpa was Pop Jeakins, he lived out next to the Arterial, with a piece of land on the other side of the road, filled with old lorries & other junk. Wasn’t there another Jeakins had a furniture shop in Laindon High Road? I believe he had a proper removals van, panelled sides and a Luton over the cab. The name Michael springs to mind, but I could be wrong. I believe Pop may have run a Taxi service? Are there any Jeakins still about? Regards Ken

    By Ken Elliott (14/03/2013)
  • I was interested to read the comments about the Douglas motorcycle on this page. I am sure that Alan Hutchins, who lived down Latimer drive, off Kings Rd, and his cousin Barry Dale had an old Duggie flat twin, that they used to thrash round the fields in that area. Ken Elliott

    By Ken Elliott (14/03/2013)
  • I recently found a website which may interest those Laindon bikers who remember Rayleigh Rockets at Rayleigh Speedway Stadium. There’s so much interesting stuff on there, I could almost smell the Castrol R.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (14/03/2013)
  • I was wondering if any one knew that we had a top speedway rider living amongst up until 2010. Vic Goodan was a rider for the Rayleigh Rockets, also manager of Wimbledon Speedway Club to name a few of his achievements. He was also one of four riders contracted to stand in for the actors in a film called The Jolly Swagman. Vic lived at Carvers farm Dunton Road but sadly he past away in 2010. Although Vic lived on the edge of Laindon I think his story should be looked into and put on the site. If you Google Vic Gooden you can read all about him. Perhaps he could be a noteworthy person.

    By Barry Ellerby (14/03/2013)
  • I would just like to add to my last comment on Vic Goodan some of you may remember him driving around in his dark red Rolls Royce with the number plate VG15

    By Barry Ellerby (14/03/2013)
  • Hi Ken. I like your story of push bike days all the lads were speedway way fans then it being bigger than (football) like the monster broad side bit we used to do same thing down Winston Club hill, I did end up with a second hand Phillips track bike given to me by a Chris Jeakins who lived in Kings Road happy days as you say.  Brian.

    By Brian Cordell (13/03/2013)
  • What about a mention of all the lads in the 1950s and their track bikes? Before we aspired to motorcycles, most of us had push bikes. To these we fitted special speedway type handle bars, some even made extra wide ones from lengths of water or gas pipe. On the back wheel we fitted a special nobbly tyre, or a Tandem tyre. These were bigger than the norm, and we had to fit an ordinary tyre underneath as well. We used to get on the Arterial Road cycle track, up towards James Garage, and tear down at full speed into Enefers Cafe carpark, doing a monster broadside at the end. Was it Stan Parrish who tried it on his Mums bike? (no crossbar!) and the frame bent in the middle! Happy Days, Ken Elliott

    By Ken Elliott (12/03/2013)
  • It’s been great to learn so much about dad’s motorbike after all this time. I believe the photo was taken either 1928 or 1929. I am curious as to why he was dressed up at that time. One theory is that it may have been for Laindon Carnival. His best friend Jimmy Richards from Richards’ Farm, entered his motorbike combination in the 1929 Carnival, decorated as ‘Drink More Milk’ and won the first prize. (See photo in the article: The Richards Family, Richards’ Dairy). Maybe my dad had also ridden his bike in the same carnival, however we will never know now, unless more photos are discovered in the future. That’s what so exciting about this site, you never know what is going to turn up next. By the way, the fourth photo down was taken in exactly the same place in our front garden and I noticed how tall the poplar trees at the top right of the photo had grown over 34 years. They were a big feature of the area and swayed beautifully in the wind. The bungalow ‘Artillery View’, where the Short Family lived, was situation just behind them. These days Bourne Close stands where our hedge had been and all the original trees have gone making my photos and memories even more precious.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (24/12/2011)
  • Thank you Ian, I can now see quite clearly that the bike had a single vertical cylinder and the name BSA. As Nina is obviiously a m/c enthusiast, a small part of her letter to which she referred to suspension and Laindon Roads reminded me of the father of a person whose name has appeared several times in the archives, Vanessa Crew. I recall that ‘Ginger Crew’ fitted a DIY rear suspension to his bike, long beforethis was ever featured by manufacturers. It was exposed spring, not in a telescopic tube. While it worked very well he had not taken into the consideration of a pillion passenger and on accepting a ride, I found that when it hit a bump the weight of the passenger forced the mudguard to contact the tyre, a most unusual feeling. I wonder if the manufacturers had become aware of Ginger’s modification and seen the value of it and perfected it for future.

    By W.H.Diment (24/12/2011)
  • Hallo Nina, Thank you for correcting me in respect of youy dad’s m/cycle, I misled myself due to the underslung tank and rim brakes which were a feature of the Douglas and looking through my magnifying glass I can now see your dad’s bike had a single vertical pot. I note you say that you would have liked to see your dad start up and drive away, however, the Douglas had no kick starter and no clutch which presumably featured on the BSA together with a conventional gearbox. I must look at photos in the future more carefully but in mitigation blame my diminishing sight.

    Editor: I have set the up the first photograph such that if you click on it you will get a larger copy. The only way back is to use the back arrow on your browser.

    By W.H.Diment (23/12/2011)
  • I was interested in the photo of Nina’s dad in 1928 as the m/cycle was similar to one Bill Parkinson had. It was a Douglas horizontally opposed twin with the underslung tank although I cannot see from the photo whether it was one of the belt driven models. One thing is I feel sure it would not have been ridden with the pillion passngers, as they were not equipped with a clutch. Instead they had an exhaust valve lifter which broke the compression and had to be put into gear before starting and were then pushed and the exhaust lift released when the bike took off somewhat rapidly. Changing gear you de-accelerated slightly at the same time operating the exhaust lift and crashing the gear in. Experts could do this without too much bother. Also there was no automatic oil system, but a small hand pump on top of the tank which had to be operated every so often. The brakes were simply a wedge of ferrodo which was forced into a rim affixed to the spokes and in wet weather was open to the rain. Riding one of these machines was not for the novice as they were quite powerful and had to be handled with respect especially when stopping.

    By W.H.Diment (22/12/2011)
  • Mr Diment. After some research, Colin and I feel that without a doubt my dad’s motorbike was a BSA S25 Colonial. I wish I had asked more questions when I had the chance when dad was around, a sentiment unfortunately expressed with regret by a few others on this site concerning lost opportunities. However, I am glad I still have a copy of the photo which when ‘blown up’ on screen shows the BSA logo. Should you be interested in seeing a better quality copy of the photo, I could e-mail it to Ian for forwarding on to you or alternatively, if you care to give me your e-mail address via Ian, I would be pleased to send it to you direct. I enjoyed your description of that type of bike’s performance and would love to have seen my dad start it up and drive away, I just hope it didn’t jerk forward to violently leaving him standing and goodness knows what happened when he attempted to stop. I seem to remember he did have a slight scar on one knee! As the family only spent the weekends at ‘Spion Kop’ at that time, I assume he rode the motorbike to Laindon from Leytonstone. Considering most of Laindon’s roads were unmade during the twenties, I can imagine it was quite a test for the bike’s suspension! Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (22/12/2011)

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