Men who mattered

The electrical trade wasn’t really to his liking, so young Kershaw sought employment in the motorcycle industry.

Herbert Sydney Kershaw was born on August 7, 1892, in Sydney, Australia, the only son of a shipping clerk and his young wife. When his father died in 1895, young Bert and his bereaved mother moved to England, settling near Manchester, where she had family.

At 14, Bert – employed by a firm of electrical contractors – held a motorcycle driving licence (which could at that time be acquired at 13) and had wide experience of different machines, owing to lots of like-minded friends, his pals including Billy and Arthur Butterfield, makers of Levis.

On one of their two-strokes, Bert won his first competition (a hill climb) in 1911. By 17, he’d bought his own first motorcycle, a well-used Triumph, to which he fitted a cane-built sidecar.

The electrical trade wasn’t really to his liking, so young Kershaw sought employment in the motorcycle industry.

When Percy Evans, winner of the 1911 Junior TT for Humber, opened a new motorcycle shop in Birmingham, Kershaw gained employment as ‘salesman-demonstrator’ and also became the owner of a 3½hp single-speed Rover.

In 1915, Bert joined the Army as a DR, and was posted to France on active service, eventually finding himself running repair workshops, his skills as an organiser and mechanic shining through, with his ‘specialist subject’ becoming Sturmey-Archer gearboxes, as used (and abused) on the Model H Triumphs deployed.

Read more in the July 2019 issue of TCM – on sale now!

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