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The winter of ‘38 is still talked about by the old timers of Giggleswick. The Spagforth factory, occupying much of the town, seemed to be perpetually shrouded in a thick grey fog; so thick that it was collected in a giant suction chamber mounted above the Town Hall and boiled down to recover vital trace elements such as lead, asbestos and nicotine. It was so cold hitch hikers could only hold up a photograph of their thumb, and smoke exiting chimneys froze and had to be chiselled off.
Inside the beastly old Spagforth factory, there was no respite for the ragged workforce, who had to drink their tea through straws so their lips would not weld themselves to the chipped metal mugs. Production of the new Spagforth Scaramouch was already months behind schedule, due to strikes by the Spagforth Workers Union and repeated failures of the anthracite piston. In an attempt to reduce the weight of this corpulent creation, the muffler had been dispensed with, and the siamesed steel exhaust pipes replaced with bamboo, which the engineers pointed out, had naturally occurring baffles. Upon this machine “rested the very existence of the company,” expounded Sir Carruthers Spagforth in one of his flowery and unconvincing orations, wrapped in an overcoat made from the pelts of more than 200 stoats (sourced from his weasel farm which also supplied the seat covers for the Scaramouch), his voice barely audible above the chattering of teeth. In order to maintain some faint hope of having the Scaramouch ready for the all-important Giggleswick International Motorcycle Expo, the guvnor decreed that shifts would work around the clock, but as the mercury plummeted further, anarchy set in. With icicles protruding from their nostrils, the night shift began burning anything remotely combustible, including the work benches. It was only the intervention of works tester Edgar Jessop, a man universally held in the utmost esteem by his peers, that the mob’s rancour was eventually quelled. Almost predictably, the Scaramouch drew scathing reviews from the press when the first models were made available. “Why fit a speedo?” one journalist wrote. “This pathetic creation is so utterly devoid of performance, a calendar would be more appropriate!” “The Scaramouch has all the acceleration of a limpet at low tide,” fumed another. “As even a light headwind would set this machine on a reverse course, I suggest fitting rear view mirrors in both directions.”
The bamboo exhaust system on the Spagforth Scaramouch, which was commendably quiet but tended to increase in length overnight, particularly in times of high humidity.
RIGHT With all work benches torched by the night shift, child labour was brought in to complete the pre-show versions of the Spagforth Scaramouch. Here Edgar Jessop puts the wretched machine though static tests in Giggleswick Gardens.