The beginning through my eyes
‘Honda’ Pete Goodger
Well it all started in the spring of 1961. I exchanged my Heinkel 197cc bubble car at ‘H and A Motorcycles Ltd’ in Thornton Heath/Croydon. These new Honda motorcycles – C100, CB92, C92 and C72 – had just arrived from Japan and were being shot to pieces in the motorcycle press at the time for having winkers and many other ‘extras’. Anyhow they only had one C72 which was sold so I had to wait another week for the next one. This was collected that next week and riding it away with a wave from the salesman, now the quite famous Chas Bates of Gilberts of Catford now Gilberts of Mottingham (Honda cars).
I was simply amazed at the quietness and comfort of the C72, a week or two later I wrote to Harry Louis, the editor of the Blue ‘Un ‘The Motor Cycle’, thinking that it would be rather nice if we could get together to form a club to look after the interests of those of us who would be riding these Hondas. Harry Louis said he had just heard of a young bank clerk around Birmingham who was thinking of starting a club for Hondas. He passed me an address which I wrote to, it was of course young Mike Evans he already had half a dozen people interested up there, so I advertised in the London area and in the Horsham area where I was at the time living. Members soon came rolling in from around London and of course the Horsham area. I think the first Club night was held in a private house in South London with around eight of us. Our first London Branch secretary was, I believe, Richard (Dick) Pryor a London taxi driver who also raced, I believe it was in Dick’s house we were having a meeting at the time when the phone rang it was for Derek ‘King of Brands’ Minter, yes he was there too, the phone call was from Honda in Japan offering him a works 4 cylinder Honda and a good wage into the bargain. I think he was offered a back up to Jim Redman and other works riders of the day. He turned it down, so we heard later, on the grounds that he didn’t like riding to team orders and he liked British bikes! I think he would have gone on to be a world champion in one of the Honda classes. Anyhow time marches on and in those days our early magazine “Gold Wing” was about four sheets of paper coming out every now and then, though we did print or type our own newssheet, my wife Joan doing all the typing in the evenings, a one finger job.
In those very early days we had a northern branch and a southern branch. The southern branch was located by a line drawn across England from Norwich to Gloucester down, so, as one can see we were rather scattered but very enthusiastic about our Hondas. Also in those early days I, along with Joan, used to go all over Southern England to re-assure their mums and dads that we were all nice people in our Club, as quite a lot didn’t want their sons on motorcycles, I don’t think we let any of them down. By and large over the years we have had rather a nice bunch of boys and girls pass through our Club and yes we still retain many of them, though their hair has changed colour.
We eventually started to use spare rooms (upstairs) in dealers shops around London for our Club rooms. I believe Eddie Grimsteads in Burdett Road was our first one, Eddie was well known in those days for sorting out the local police who wanted to move his customers on when they parked their machines on the road outside his shop, although I’ll not tell you what he used to get up to!
By the way in those days our AGM was always held in April, warm weather was always on the way and 99% were on bikes, I don’t think anyone could afford cars. Also in the early days we could get almost anything from dear old Honda. Joan and I used to do all the early motorcycle shows at Earls Court for Honda, we would even take the Honda mechanics out for an evening meal afterwards to Knightsbridge – the early egg and spoon restaurants, not the ones they are now. Honda paid for everything in those good old days. I had access to all the stores/workshops in the days when Honda were at Manor Gate in Kingston, just think of it, sitting on and wheeling around all those works Honda fours, twins and singles. I should like to say all those early Honda mechanics/technicians are now all directors in Honda Japan and other parts of the world, how times have changed.
In those early days we used to get the name of Honda spread around by giving riding displays around London and the Home Counties, plus some venues further afield. Donkey derbys, civic functions that had displays going on and a whole host of other functions that we could display our Hondas. I do remember Ron Pape (London) was with us, we were riding around an arena giving a display, we were criss-crossing at the time. The organiser asked if we could all ride around standing on our saddles, he got a short answer.
I must say that no club is run by one member, many have put thousands of hours of hard work and a lot of their own money into keeping this club going trying to drum up new members, running show stands, getting the magazine together, (some do nothing and moan at the same time) so before I forget may I give a real heartfelt thanks to all of you who have done so much for all of us over the years, yes we do remember you.
One thing some of us have been around for some time have noticed and that is ‘Club runs’ once upon a time most of us used to ride together to meetings and various events, but these days with machines as much as 150mph faster than others, we have got rather fragmented, the only solution most of us see is – we’ll see you there. And I know some of you have got some rather nice valuable old Hondas.
From those early days some of us notice a lot of Honda staff now do not ride motorcycles. We used to go to the old Honda seminars all over the country, but the sales staff drive cars! Perhaps we’re into the 21st century folks.
In some of those early years I used to service and overhaul machines in my garage on a ramp (this was a Club night) so everyone had a rough idea of how their Hondas worked while my gear wife Jean made coffee and tea and biscuits or cake. 15/- (75p) a service.
I well remember one day Honda UK asking me to help out on the Honda stand at the Blackpool Motorcycle Show in the early sixties. I left Lymington at 4am on a Saturday to be on the stand by 9am (I was), I worked right round till I think it was 6pm, had a quick bite to eat (on Honda) then rode all the way home non-stop except for fuel on my CB72 Honda. Those were the days.
Well all you super guys and gals and all my old and new friends in the illustrious Honda Owners Club (GB) this is how we started it all rolling. May I once more say my very sincere thanks for all the thousands of free hours you have put in to make this Club the super club that it is today. The original Honda Owners Club of Great Britain 1961 to 2017, some 56 years of Hondering.