1 November 2013
Reference Roy Poynting’s the Good Old Days, September issue – what memories it brought back for me. I was not old enough to drive before the war. I started on a 350cc ex-army Ariel in 1947

My story is about one empty road (one of many at the time). Petrol had recently been de-rationed, but not food etc. I lived in south Manchester but almost all my relatives lived in and around Herefordshire and were farmers and/or licensees. We were offered extra rations by them if we were prepared to go there and get them. My father was unable to go due to work commitments, so it fell to me to do it.

I made a special pannier frame for the Ariel to accommodate a suitcase across the top and old gallon oil cans each side with extra petrol. There was only one petrol stop on the whole of the journey, and I usually left home on a Friday night after ‘work’ meaning that everything was shut and after dark. Leaving in the morning was usually done early before places opened for business, so the petrol I carried had to last the whole journey there and back.

My journey was from south Manchester to just outside Presteigne in Radnorshire and back. As I said earlier, the journey going was very often in the dark and nearly midnight and on a machine that had a headlight whose glimmer was little better than a candle. As I remember it, the roads themselves were never a problem, there was never any traffic on them. The odd army lorry perhaps, but you could go round a bend and find a row of ducks asleep in the middle of the road, and if it wasn’t ducks, with that useless glimmer for a light, it was rabbits doing what rabbits seem to be good at.

The return journey was in daylight but then in addition to ducks and rabbits, there would be cattle being taken for milking leaving their marks for you to skid all over. Oh, happy days, eh!

A few years later, things were to get better. By the time I was doing my National Service (still in the 1950s), I had swapped the Ariel for a Vincent and with its Millar lighting I never found many ducks or rabbits a problem!

J H Rowlands, Cheadle, Cheshire

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The Classic MotorCycle Issue 42-01 - Jan 2015

Where legends come to life

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