BSA Golden Flash 650cc
Way back in the 1950's, when I was maybe 6 or 7, we used to go visiting my maternal Grandmother's most Sundays. Dad had recently got motorised transport, in the form of a brand new 98cc James, but as there were four of us - Mum, Dad, Sister Janet and myself, we had to make this journey by bus. This entailed walking about a mile to the nearest bus-stop, passing along the way, an almost new 1953 Golden Flash in that wonderful subtle metallic gold colour. We always stopped for a while to admire it and frequently talked to the owner, who was invariably polishing it. My dad kept talking about this bike, and how he would love to own one, so that he could fit a sidecar to it and take us all on magical trips - maybe even abroad!
We always ate together just before he had to get ready for work on the night shift at Hodgsons in Beverley and I remember him being so excited one evening, because he had been to Jordan's motorcycles, in Witham, Hull to get something for the bike (by this time the James had been replaced by a 197cc Francis Barnett), when he had spotted the very same Golden Flash for sale, which we had all admired for so long. I have no idea how much it would have cost, but one way or another he managed to buy it.
This is an identical example of Dad's bike - seen here at the Harrogate show in March 2002
Some time later, the Canterbury Venom sidecar arrived too, and oh! boy did we have some fun on that outfit! Trips out at the weekend - no more buses to Grandma's. I usually got to travel in the front of the sidecar and occasionally on the pillion - it was every schoolboy's dream in those days. I think the sidecar was described as a child/adult, rather than a full double adult, and it was finished in the same colour as the bike - I don't know if that was a special order or a standard colour.
Dad worked with a chap who had relatives in Girvan, Scotland and he too had two children. They came up with a plan that if Dad took the other family up there, we could also go to stay for two weeks. This meant a total of 6 trips for Dad in two weeks - long before motorways. I don't quite know how we managed for space, but I accompanied him on the two return journeys to pick up the others. I think the total mileage for the Holiday was around 2300 miles and that would have been in about 1957 or '58
Eventually the outfit went, to make way for a Morris 8 series E van. Shortly after, that too went in exchange for a Bedford Dormobile - at last this really was to be our transport to the Continent. Sadly Dad was killed in an horrific head-on crash with a cement lorry in this Minibus, on his way to work, just before Christmas. Three of his work colleagues also died. I was 11 and Janet was 14, Mum was only about 40 - the best laid plans........
I have also been smitten with this interest in bikes and cars, and have always hankered after a Golden Flash, but only in solo trim. I recently bought one - a basket case, from an auto-jumble and have spent a great deal time collecting everything to build a replica of Dad's old bike - so watch this space!
14th October 2004
Just a bit of an update on the collecting of bits for the replica of my Dad's bike: I have sourced quite a few bits of the difficult tinware - front mudguard, rear main mudguard, but not the pivoting part as yet, number plate/rear light holder, nacelle type headlamp complete, centre stand, air filter and battery clamp, tool box. The only other parts needed now fall into the 'still obtainable as replica parts' category, so they will be bought as time and funds permit.
Another stroke of luck when my great friend Brian Barrow, obtained a 1957 Canterbury Sidecars brochure, so I have included a couple of pages. The picture on the front shows a then new 'Carmobile' with a typical 50's scene. The next shows the 'Venom' and eagle eyed readers might see the price - purchase tax was 25% then - so 17 1/2 % VAT maybe isn't so bad after all.
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