5 July 2013
It is entirely a coincidence that Jonathan Hill’s letter regarding my old friend Frank Pearce should appear in the same issue as the request for information about Godfreys of Great Portland Street W1, to Richard Rosenthal

Admittedly the link between them is a trifle tenuous but it so happens there is one!

In about 1963, I was working for Leslie Hartridge Ltd – a subsidiary of the Lucas group – whose London offices were at 151 Great Portland Street, London W1. A hundred yards up the road on the other side was Godfreys Ltd, leftovers when Great Portland Street played host to numerous companies in the motoring world. In a minor street parallel to Great Portland Street was a small shop, which served as a scrap metal collection depot for plumbing waste etc. and what should I see in the window one day but a brand new bronze Rudge cylinder head. When I enquired I was told that Godfreys was closing down and the chaps who ran the shop had been asked to clear the ‘scrap metal…’ So I hurried back to the office and rang Frank. ‘Get what you can, boy,’ he said, ‘Get what you can!’

As I had come up to the office on my Norton, getting anything was not feasible but the next day I drove up in my Austin van and asked again at the shop. ‘Sorry, mate’ I was told, ‘It’s all gone over to the main scrapyard at Islington now!’ So a trip to Islington followed – I don’t recall what specious reason I gave for my absence from the office – and on arrival I was confronted with a veritable mound of new Rudge parts – ranging from new radial and semi-radial heads, fork parts, stand parts, gearbox parts, barrels, sprockets, footchange components, hubs – you name it and it was there. For £10 I loaded the van till it was down on the springs – 10 cwt or so – and there was as much again, if not more, remaining. When knocking off time came, I made my way cautiously to Frank’s none-too-palatial premises in Brox Road, Ottershaw. Delighted, he gave me £15!

Sad to relate, when I phoned the scrap yard the following day about a possible return visit, it was too late: all the rest of the parts had been scooped up and now lay irretrievably mixed with everything else in the yard…

Over the years that followed, Frank sold the Rudge parts and when he finally retired in the late 1980s, I think I recall Rudge specialist Mervyn Stratford telling me he was pleased to buy what was left.

Simon Grigson, via email

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The Classic MotorCycle Issue 42-01 - Jan 2015

Where legends come to life

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