Behind the Scenes in the Vintage Years by Richard Bourne
Arthur Bourne was at the centre of British motorcycling from 1923-1951.ï¿½ This is his fascinating story. Back in the 1920s, there were more motor cyclists than car drivers, records were being broken every month at the Brooklands race track in Surrey, roads were empty and motorbikes constantly broke down. Arthur Bourne, who used the pseudonym `Torrens' for readers of the best-selling weekly The Motor Cycle, was in the thick of the game.
He had the good luck to be Engineer to The Auto-Cycle Union and the-then, not yet 26, editor of a famous motorcycling journal. This is his story of what it was like to ride hundreds of miles round Britain on reliability trials - essential for manufacturers to claim that their bikes were worth buying - and how he provided weekly guidance for thousands of youngsters on two wheels. He writes of Brooklands, and of TT races on the lsle of Man; of his encouragement to young engineers like Edward Turner and Phil Vincent; and of how, in the Second World War, he enabled the airborne forces at Arnhem to be equipped with lightweight motorcycles that could be dropped by parachute or flown in by glider.
For anyone interested in motorbikes and the people who rode them, when British manufacturing was at its apogee, this is a unique testimony. Motor cycles were fashionable. The Duke of York, later to be George V1 and his wife Elizabeth, later known as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, were among the enthusiasts.
lt was an exciting era, recalled by `Torrens' near the end of his life, in a good journalist's prose. Behind the Scenes in the Vintage Years is a unique and fascinating record of an unrepeatable era in British motorcycling and engineering history. It contains many black and white pictures which bring this area of the past to life.