Trac­ing an Abing­don King Dick

If my re­search is cor­rect, I think I am the 6th known owner of the circa 1909/1910 3 1/2hp Ga­ha­gan & Bed­dome (G & B) King Dick mo­tor­cy­cle with pos­si­bly a 7th and per­haps first owner, yet to be dis­cov­ered.

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT - Story Dick Pris­grove

This par­tic­u­lar mo­tor­cy­cle, as far as I can as­cer­tain, was first writ­ten about by Mr David Dum­ble when it fea­tured on Pg.15 of his 1974 book, Vet­eran Mo­tor­cy­cles in Aus­tralia. The ear­li­est known photo of the G & B King Dick is from 1914, when it was is­sued with num­ber 2707, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion given to me by Mr Ken Young. The first ques­tion this an­swers is that the gent astride the bike is, in all like­li­hood, a Mr Al­fred A. Camp­bell of Bourke Street, Launce­s­ton. But what ev­i­dence do I have that the King Dick mo­tor­cy­cle I have now the priv­i­lege of own­ing, is in fact the same ma­chine? The photo has been handed down from pre­vi­ous own­ers, but it is also in the hands of the present VMCC Abing­don mar­que spe­cial­ist in the UK, Mr Wil­liam (Bill) White­ley, who was able to con­nect the photo to a pre­vi­ous owner Mr John Hill. It has been thought that the G & B Abing­don King Dick may have been an Aus­tralian built mo­tor­cy­cle, how­ever, Robert Saward in his 1996 book, A-Z of Aus­tralian

Made Mo­tor­cy­cles 1893-1942, rightly de­bunks this. Though there where Abing­don en­gines fit­ted to frames made lo­cally up from prob­a­bly im­ported lugs, ad­ver­tise­ments from 1909 to 1914 in­di­cates the vast ma­jor­ity in King Dicks at this time were fully as­sem­bled and im­ported mo­tor-cy­cles. Wal­ter Ga­ha­gan and Charles Bed­dome pur­chased a cy­cle busi­ness from a Mr Sim King, trad­ing as Ga­ha­gan & Bed­dome, 133 El­iz­a­beth Street, Ho­bart in Oc­to­ber 1908, sell­ing Rover bi­cy­cles and shortly af­ter man­u­fac­tur­ing cy­cles un­der the G & B brand. Mr Bed­dome left the busi­ness in Oc­to­ber 1909 and Mr Ga­ha­gan con­tin­ued trad­ing as Wally Ga­ha­gan, con­tin­u­ing with G & B trade name. In Sept. 1911 Wally Ga­ha­gan in­di­cates his busi­ness is mov­ing from bi­cy­cles into mo­tor-cy­cles, and on the 9th Sept 1912 places his first ad­ver­tise­ment as an Abing­don Agent (sic). Two years later he places his last ad­ver­tise­ment for Abing­don, but stat­ing within this ad he has “many sec­ond hand FN’s, Tri­umphs, Rovers, Abing­dons, G & B’s (prob­a­bly bi­cy­cles), and Match­less, any rea­son­able of­fer to clear” (sic). In Jan­uary 1917 Wally Ga­ha­gan lodges for Bank­ruptcy.

As far as I can as­cer­tain, N.L. Frost of the Devon Cy­cle and Mo­tor Works, Ulve­stone, was the first agent to sell the Abing­don King Dick mo­tor­cy­cle mar­que in Tas­ma­nia from March 1911. I think it rea­son­able to as­sume the Mr Frost was get­ting the Kings Dick’s through Mr Sim King. He is cer­tainly cited as do­ing so a year or so later. The very first ad­ver­tise­ment I have found of the Abing­don King Dick mo­tor­cy­cle in Aus­tralia is from The Age, 25th De­cem­ber 1909 placed by E.W. Brown, 207-213 Swanston Street, Mel­bourne. The bike I now have was of­ten seen at ral­lies up to (I think) the late 1970s mid 1980s when it was owned by Guy Leopold. It is thought the bike was in the pos­ses­sion of John Hill of Moonah West, Ho­bart and later of Mel­bourne, at the time David Dum­ble’s ac­count was printed. In all prob­a­bil­ity, the bike I now have is the same bike cited by Mr Dum­ble and Mr Saward.

The mar­que spe­cial­ist, Bill White­ley is happy to date the bike to ei­ther the first or sec­ond quar­ter 1910, or even 1909 from its phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics, but as im­port doc­u­men­ta­tion does not ex­ist, I am happy to cite it as circa 1909/10. How­ever if Mr Al­fred Camp­bell was its first reg­is­tered owner in Fe­bru­ary 1914, where was the mo­tor­cy­cle and who owned it from 1910? An ed­u­cated op­tion came courtesy of the gen­tle­man who has been of great as­sis­tance to me in get­ting the bike run­ning again, Mr Neville Babb, who ob­served that front wheel is from a bi­cy­cle, and he is right. Per­haps Wally Ga­ha­gan re­freshed a sec­ond hand ma­chine as he cer­tainly had plenty of Abing­don bi­cy­cle parts to use. I must also make a spe­cial men­tions to Mr Bill Veitch, owner of New Zealand’s old­est Abing­don King Dick (1909), for help­ing me lo­cate that elu­sive frame num­ber, Mr Brian Ben­nett for the many triv­ial ques­tions I have in­un­dated him with and Mr Ron Weste for the pho­tog­ra­phy. If all goes to plan, I will be tak­ing the G & B to the An­tique Mo­tor­cy­cle Rally in Ulve­stone, Tas­ma­nia in March/April 2019. I wel­come any ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion that may add to the story of this G & B King Dick mo­tor­cy­cle.

FOOT­NOTE: The au­thor wishes to ac­knowl­edge var­i­ous news­pa­pers and jour­nals as the source for in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing Tas­ma­nian Po­lice Gazette, The North West­ern Ad­vo­cate & Emu Bay Times, The Age, The Mer­cury, Ho­bart, Daily Post, Ho­bart, The Quest for King Dick by Wil­liam White­ley, A-Z of Aus­tralian-Made Mo­tor­cy­cles 1893-1942, Vet­eran Mo­tor­cy­cles in Aus­tralia by David Dum­ble, 100 clicks; The His­tory of the Tas­ma­nian Mo­tor­cy­cle Club by Ken Young.

This photo came with the bike and is thought to be Al­fred Camp­bell of Launce­s­ton. The G&B in Jan­uary 2018. Pho­tographed by Ron Weste.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.