Well Street Garage Buckingham.

 

 

Well Street Garage Buckingham UK.

 

Well where do I start, do I add it onto the seventy years of me? Or just tell the story of the history when I knew the garage...

 

From the beginning Year 1961.

Bert Shorey, Dan’s Dad, had decided to enlarge his motorcycle garage empire, and to safeguard his future by buying Well Street Garage on his own, where as North Bar Garage in Banbury was jointly owned by himself and Bill Russell a long standing friend of Bert’s, and a shrewd businessman. But Bert and the family were left to run it without much interruption from Bill, although he did keep a tight check of the books.

So with much haggling with the previous owner of Well Street Garage. Bert took it over along with the fuel contract for the petrol pumps. Cleveland I think.

Dan was by this time in the summer months a semi professional motorcycle racer, doing the “Continental Circus “ of Grand Prix racing.

By this time too, I had forsaken my agricultural engineering apprenticeship to go and work at North Bar garage... I had been enticed by the fact that I now every winter month spent most weekends as passenger in Dan’s Ariel trials sidecar outfit. And was one hundred percent, into the motorcycle off-road sporting scene, and it was my intention to become a road racer as well, like Dan in the summer months.

But I digress. Bert now had the two garages to run, and as I say Dan was away most of the time.

So my brother had just left school, and was into the trials bikes like I was, and had got to know Dan when he picked me up from the farm every weekend to compete in one National sidecar trial or another.

Brother had got fed up of milking the few cows, which my aunt had, and was looking for employment.

Dan suggested there was a job for a lad to help out in the New garage that father Bert had bought, but he would need to get into Banbury early, as the garage was at Buckingham, and Bert would leave in enough time to open up at nine every day.

 

So little brother had to hitch a lift into Banbury every day with father, too early for me.

I left the farm at a leisurely pace either on my Greeves trials bike, or the Ariel Leader I had, that we purchased from a farm just up the road from the bridge used in the “Great Train Robbery”.

This was while I was still at Young’s Garage doing my apprenticeship,

and don’t forget, that it was these guy’s at Young’s agricultural department that had got me big time into competition bikes.

Anyway within a short while the daily routine for bruv was to be dropped off at Well St Garage by Bert and left to run the place while Bert popped back to do his chores at the Banbury garage, and then later in the afternoon he would drive back over to Buckingham in his Austin A55 pickup in green, to pick up the now what he had become, one of the youngest garage managers in the country.

Bruv spent his days filling cars and bikes with petrol, and chatting to all and sundry, and called this work...

 

 

Franco Gazenza (think that's right) who later worked at  "Well Street Garage" with Bruv.

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And this could have been the rolled Reliant?

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It was amazing how many characters became friends with that Garage, for the simple reason it was somewhat of a meeting place for not only the youth of the area, that used to pop in to have their push bike fixed, as the garage was a cycle shop before Bert bought it.

But also now being a Reliant garage, the eccentric drivers of these little vehicles had to be characters just to drive them, and most just bought the three wheelers because they could not get, or did not want to get a car license.

Or they had swopped in their sidecar combination for a dry seat in one of these very unstable little three wheelers.

Just adding to this while I think about it, there was one chap, can’t remember his name until I ask bruv or Colin, but I think it was "Mr Bayliss"....

 He lived somewhere towards Bletchley and had to drive along the Stow straight as it was called, every day, I think he worked at Smiths Industries.

Anyway there is a sharp bend at the end of the straight, and "Mr Bayliss" used to roll his red Reliant 325, into the ditch there on a regular basis.

Bert would drag it out with his pickup and load it onto the two-wheeled “Ambulance” that he had devised to drop the front wheel of the Reliant into, and tow it as a trailer.

The Glass fibre shattered remains of the Reliant was then dragged off back to the factory at Tamworth for repair.

Until getting back to the owner for another go in the following week's.

Can’t remember how many times he rolled that car, but when it got too bad, and just not worth repairing again, he tried the same trick with a new one. And kept coming back for more. He never did get a car license.

Another case was the couple that had an immaculate Triumph Tiger 110 sidecar outfit from Worcester road Chipping Norton. Colin will know their name. (He his thinking about it)...

But they were both knocking on a bit and they had decided to go the Reliant route, so swapped the outfit in for a nice little 325 saloon. They used to bring it back to Banbury or later to Buckingham to have it serviced on a Thursday at Banbury, Wednesday at Buckingham.

But the major problem was that Mr"B"(we will call him for now), Could just not reverse the Reliant, he was shakey with the driving, but could not park it unless he could drive straight out. So him and the wife both got out of the Reliant and pushed it like the sidecar backwards into a parking place if it was in a tight spot.

See what I mean about characters.

Back to the plot, but first to another of these eccentric people that just seemed to accumulate at Well Street.

This chap had an old Austin A 40 van, and used to call in for a gallon of petrol a day and used to count the money out for it usually in shilling peices, and coppers, out of an old purse...

One day by accident brother or one of his mates that he always had hanging around lent on the back of the van, and one of the rubber mounted rear windows popped out of the seal and fell into the back of the van floor.

Owen Turney the driver of said vehicle was not amused, and fitted it back in while they watched, so this fault became too good a thing to miss, sothe pranksters would wait until he had fueled up every day, and then get back into the van and rev it up as he did for the off. Then one of them would nip around the back and push in the back window, Owen would shoot off down the road towards the chip shop, then screech to a stop, throw open the drivers door go around the back of the van, open the door, and then slam it shut again, then gesture with his arms back up the street, and  drive off again at speed.

And this happened on numerous occasions and he just did not learn.

I might add that Owen Turney, and he was a total eccentric, became very good friends of both my brother and me, and we had numerous deals with him over the years. But this needs a page of its own.

Owen was one of the first people I know that had a new fangled radio tape player in his van, and always had the 1812 overture playing at full blast, so you knew he was coming before he even turned the corner into Well Street, or anywhere else come to that.

The poor chap got disillusioned with the goverment and tax system in the country in the eighties, and just sat in a chair for a month, and died, leaving a collection of cycles, motorcycles, and automobile books, worth    a fortune, and I bet there is still a barn out there full of his stuff as he had this sort of storage all over the place...

 

 

Enjoy this version and the right time.

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Back to the garage.

 

RD56 Yamaha 1963-65.

 

1963 and the little garage was ticking over nicely, and a slow trade as Bert used to say was continuing to grow, and the work sometime's got to much for the bunch of tearaways, and I used to be drafted in to help out.

Anyway May 1963, saw the biggest attraction to the garage for some time...

The Japanese motorcycle industry had decided to have an all out assault on the Isle Of Man TT, and the works Yamaha team had decided to spend a week practising at Silverstone just up the road to get the bikes acclimatized and sorted...

Problem was that they needed a workshop to work on the machines.

I take it Dan had arranged the use of Well Street Garage for them,

so this was used for their base.

We had just not seen this sort of dedication to a motorcycle racing cause before, and could not believe how many mechanics it needed to work on the bikes, each mecanic had their own job to do, and got on with it with much chatter between them, but we could not understand what they said could we it was Japanese.

Rider Fumio Ito, was the only one that could put a few words of english together.

Each of them were decked out in clinically clean white overalls, and white cotton gloves, and to our amazment, they were changing red hot spark plugs with their cotton gloved hands, and changing tyres at a speed I had not seen before.

The garage was like a magnet to the town’s people for that week the circus had moved into town, and the chip shop down the street did a roaring trade.

 

 

Fumio Ito in the middle, the other rider on the left is our own Phil Read.

 

Fumio  went on to finish second in the 1963 Isle of Man TT lightweight 250 race.

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The garage had seen top class racing machinery before, in the fact that Dan kept his best racing Manx Nortons there, and one or two exotic machines at one time, but these were stored upstairs out of prying eyes.

 

 

Dan with the works Kriedler 50 at the IOM TT.

 

 

Two of Dan's Manx Nortons upstairs at Well Street Garage.

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Another well known and local characters around at the garage, especially when Dan was over there, was the one and only Frank (Fearless) Robinson...  A local legend from Brackley, and a motorcycle racer and trader to boot.

"Fearless" spent a couple of seasons, and some time on the continental circus escapades as Dan's mecanic, and wore the in fashion Italian style blue paddock overalls, with the diaganal slanting zipp at the front.

"Fearless"  was a mate of Frank Sheen, Barry's dad, and some how had purchased a couple of ex works 125 Montesa Sprint race bikes both with a true vintage look, 1956 I think, and Frank being the engineer that he was had converted one to swinging arm suspension...I remember one was six speed one four...

I said that Frank was a racer, he was also a great story teller, well he had to be, as most of his racing days were spent either pushing the Montesa's up and down the paddock trying to get them to fire up, and if one did start he would be Tail-End-Charlie in the race...

But getting back to the paddock the stories would start to flow, "First off the line and then the side wind from other riders as they blasted past threw him off balance, and so-an-so had cut him up on the entrance to the first bend... You know, the lot, and I have heard most in my life time, but Fearless's were the best.

I was amazed one day that Frank finished third in a race at Rissington I think, but I think there had been several off's in the race due to the marble like surface on most bends...One thing I did not say was that Frank was no spring chicken, and must have been sixty odd when he was racing in this the sixties... Unfortuanatly I think he had a dodgey ticker and this done for him in the end, but he had the last laugh, because the bikes that we all ridiculed sold for a fortune when he had gone...

And "Fearless's" antics still live in peoples minds today that raced then...

"I was the one that spotted young Barry Sheen's talents"...

Yes Okay Frank...

 

 

Photo Courtesy Wikipedia..

This is one of the Montesa Sprint 125cc race bikes of 1956... 

Dustbin fairings were banned from use on solos in 1957 I think, so Frank beat a later type dolphin fairing out of aluminium.. And as I say converted one of the bikes to swinging arm rear suspension...

 

More later...

 

Today the Garage has been restored after standing for thirty plus years empty into a New swanky restaurant and wine bar.

 

 

Here it is and now sporting new Cleveland type globes on top of the petrol pumps...

 

 

That was a long time shut.

Glad it is now back attracting people like it did in the past. 

 

 

Work on conversion to keep it Grade two listed. 

 

 

Time for lunch and check the old place out me thinks.

19/10/2021...

Unfortunatly the restaurant-wine bar did not last too long after being resurrected from its thirty year slumber, and after two years trading and knocking up huge debts, before and during this Covid period, the company The Wonder Rooms Ltd trading as The Garage...was voluntarily liquidated in April 2020...

What a great shame as the pension fund company that owned the property had ploughed so much money into the conversion as a restaurant...

As far as I can tell the property may still be for sale as it was listed in a top end estate agents web site...  and would be considered as an ideal property although grade two listed, to be converted into a considerable dwelling...

We wait for the next Chapter...

Well in April 2020 Bite Me Ltd  was incorperated and at 3 Well street Buckingham. But that company only lasted just over twelve months and was voluntarily liquidated in September 2021... Oh dear...

 

The pumps later became Jet as you will find out. 

 

More later...

Updat2021...