With Great Britain controlling sales of the huge motorcycle market in the sixties with a wide range of home manufactured machines, many shows across the country and Europe displayed the new models soon to be released into the busy show rooms at the dealerships. The London based shows ruled the roost but there were many other shows scattered around the UK which also proved very popular. I can vaguely remember this Blackpool show we are looking at here, as at fourteen years old this seaside town was more of a holiday destination than a venue for a motorcycle show. As we lived only two hours away we had dipped our toes into the cold waters of the Irish seas on many other occasions.
Alifelong motorcycle enthusiast, my late father Ron, had taken me anywhere to watch anything to do with his two-wheeled obsession. As we took the motorway to Blackpool he was reminiscing as a young man how he had visited the Blackpool show and look out for the crowds who would be lined along Victoria Street aiming to gain entrance through the Olympia entrance of the Winter Gardens venue. The show had run from 1963 but his last visit to the show had been in 1965 where, upon doing some research, I had found that the recorded crowd attendance had been around the 13,000 mark for the first three days. As it was Good Friday, and an official Bank holiday, we had left home early to avoid the traffic and the queues!
When we arrived, my father was now thinking we had the wrong day as there were no queues visible; I was thinking about that extra time we could have had in bed and the fact that we were literally two minutes from the beach. In truth, the show was going to turn into a disaster for the organising CMCA officials. Billed as the ‘Outdoor Leisure Show’ the organisers had had the vision of getting more of the general public involved in making the connection with the outdoor world on their motorcycles. In truth, the stall holders had been told it would be 65% motorcycles on show but they were very disappointed with what they found. They blamed a distinct lack of publicity on the poor attendance. When the doors opened we also found that the entrance fee was 44 pence for adults and 22 pence for children under fourteen years old. This was more than my father had ever paid to enter a show before, and when his words “How much?” echoed out I knew he was not happy.
A Grand Entrance
The highlight of the day was the grand entrance of the Ex-Yorkshire and England cricket player Freddie Truemen. A legend in the cricket world, I struggled to make the connection with the show, but the sound of his arrival on the back of a White Helmets display four-stroke Triumph to perform the opening ceremony was quite exciting. When I say highlight of the show, that’s exactly what it was. There were no crowds to witness the event despite its town centre location and no one in the show — it was very boring. You could see that so much work had been put into the show but I struggled to find any off-road machinery, which was what we had come to see. If you wanted a cycle or a tent and some walking boots it was fine. As I was very poor at school at Maths, (I got 13% in my CSE exams – yes that bad!) I had to check the claimed 65% motorcycles on view was correct — hmmm!
More Sand than Grand
To say it took an hour to look around the show was an understatement. Yes, we were interested in the other aspects of motorcycling and, as in two years I would be 16, the new four-stroke Honda SS50S caught my eye, but in truth I wanted a Yamaha FS1E two-stroke. It was quite obvious that the organisers were panicking when they announced later in the day that the admission prices would be dropped and they extended the show’s opening times, which would run until Thursday.
At the close of the show the attendance figures told their own story. On day one the organisers expected around the 15,000 mark but in truth only 2,000 visitors had attended the show.
I have tried to find out if the show ran again but I have noted that there was a 2017 Blackpool Motorcycle Show, once again held at the Winter Gardens venue.
England Cricketer Freddie Trueman opened the show.
Watched by Blackpool’s Lord Mayor Edmund Wynnne, Freddie Trueman takes a look at the tank.
On the inside, the Winter Gardens venue looked very industrial.
It’s a happy White Helmets display rider who receives his Triumph back in one piece from Trueman.
Check out all the guys trying not to look at the press girls!
Electric motorcycles or scooters are not new. John Schuck was the official UK importer of the battery powered Solo Electra moped. It used a 24 volt electric motor with a simple on/off switch to control the power delivery. With a governed top speed of sixteen miles per hour it had a claimed range of thirty-two miles on one charge and cost £170.
On the opening day the attendance was very poor.
Honda used the front number plates to display each individual model in its range.
Agrati Sales UK Ltd displayed the 1973 Kawasaki range of models from Japan.
Bill Head’s stand had the long awaited Honda SS50S super-moped on display. The small, compact, four-speed gearbox model had the law abiding compulsory pedals fitted which could be locked forward with a simple lever release system to activate them. The proposed recommended retail price was £144.
Freddie Truemen inspects the new Bell full face helmet imported from America, which had a RRP of £29.99.
Anything associated with a performance increase on a motorcycle always arouses interest. Claimed to be the only rolling road in the UK, the Souriau stand had this diagnostic test rig on display, which can cope with power outputs of 120bhp and a top speed of 150mph.