An aged AJS, with its white-clad rider, was the combination to beat on the beach at Southport.
Image: MORTONS ARCHIVE
The start of the 10-lap 350cc solo race sees the man referred to above, Ron Parkinson, lined up with five other riders, the starter’s flag aloft, ready for the fun to begin.
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As was often the case at the time – the event report was published on May 1, 1930, and refers to the event ‘last Saturday’ – Parkinson eventually showed them a clean pair of wheels, his old, flat-tank Bigport AJS recovering from a poor start.
Noted The Motor Cycle’s report: “The principle feature of the 350cc 10-mile race was the brilliant cornering of R F Parkinson, (348cc AJS) who started at the rear of the procession and picked up places by means of some really good riding, In spite of his hot cornering, however, it took him a lap or two to get ahead of R Parker and S Anderton, who were in the lead and scrapping mightily for position. Their duel was one of the best things of the meeting.”
Despite their duelling – and more modern machinery – they couldn’t keep Parkinson, who rode with an almost speedway-esque foot forward technique, at bay, while he likewise won the 350cc one-mile race too, in this one beating Sunbeam works rider Gilbert Emery aboard a 347cc Model 80.
In our photo, there isn’t any evidence of Emery’s Sunbeam, with, from left, Parkinson’s AJS number eight, the number 47 another Bigport-type, flat-tank Ajay (so 1928 at newest) with next along an unusual machine, in the form of a 350cc overhead valve Norton; the firm wasn’t really known for its involvement in that capacity class (unlike AJS, which made its name with 350s) and this one looks to be the 1929-introduced 348cc JE, J seemingly for ‘junior,’ the JE being a smaller version of the 500cc ES2.
A similar arrangement was made with the overhead camshaft CJ, which was a 350cc version of the ohc 500cc CS1, which itself had much in common with the ES2. The CJ/JE shared a lighter and smaller frame than that used on the CS1/ES2, though looked similar, so well worthy of its junior designation. Never made in big numbers, it was, however, as Norton’s first 350cc overhead valve model and so seemingly set the template for the Model 50, ultimately the JE’s replacement and which ran well into the 1960s.
Fourth along in our photograph is difficult to identify; engine looks to be a twin port 350cc JAP which the shape and colours of the petrol tank suggest, perhaps, a Coventry-Eagle, while next along is another 350cc AJS – this one is a bit newer than the other two though, being as it features the overhead camshaft engine (introduced for sale in 1928 although used by the factory works team in 1927; interestingly, the works swapped back to pushrod engines in 1928) in a saddle tank frame, which indicates a 1929 or 1930 manufacturing date. The 1929 350cc overhead cam models were designated ‘M7’ (the first production 350cc cammy had been the K7, the 500cc version used the number 10) and featured a magenta-coloured petrol tank panel, while the letter R was adopted for 1930. The last Wolverhampton AJS cammies were the S7/S10 though when the overhead cam AJS reappeared under AMC/Matchless ownership, it reverted to being the R, which in turn led to the 7R.
Final machine of our pictured sextet is unidentifiable; the engine looks to be partially covered perhaps, while the tank is plated. What it certainly isn’t is Parker’s Velocette, while Emery’s Sunbeam doesn’t look to be there either.
Though Emery was out of luck in this event, or maybe didn’t start, he won the 500, 750 and 1000cc concurrently run 10-mile event, on his 493cc Sunbeam, with runner-up Denis de Ferranti, the man who was runner-up in the 1927 Senior Amateur TT (Scott), and the 1929 Junior Manx GP (New Henley). Emery also enjoyed success in the Isle of Man; third in the 1928 Senior Amateur race on a Bullnose Model 90 Sunbeam, his best result at the TT proper was in 1933, sixth in the Junior on a 350cc Velocette.
At least three Emery machines still exist (two KTT Velocettes and that 1928 Sunbeam) while the Parkinson AJS is still about, too.