A life in the trade

Old Bike Australasia - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

While read­ing OBA 72 there was a story on Brian Collins, and also men­tioned were Harry Bartrop and Stan Buck­ing­ham. I started work in the ware­house at Ben­nett & Wood in the early ‘six­ties at Joyn­ton Av­enue Zet­land (Sydney). They had a great range of spare parts for Holden and Ford and were also the NSW agents BSA and Honda, and they also made Speed­well push­bikes in a fac­tory in Red­fern. I worked my way up and af­ter a run on the mo­tor­cy­cle and push­bike counter Harry Bartrop was my boss and a good man to work for. I bought my first bike in 1964, a Honda C200 90cc. I rode that bike ev­ery­where and in 1965 made my first trip to the Bathurst races. I spoke to Harry and told him I was head­ing up there on the Wed­nes­day and he told me to come and see him and he would give me an en­try pass and a pit pass. When I ar­rived I lo­cated him and he said I had to earn these passes. He was the head man at Bathurst and rode an A65 BSA side­car and he said to jump in and he would take me around the track so we could give the lo­cals who lived around the cir­cuit a pro­gram so they could see the times when they were able to come and go, as Bathurst is a pub­lic road. Harry al­ways wore a suit and hat and that hat never flew off. The num­ber plate on the BSA was NSW 1. Af­ter I had done my chore with Harry, I jumped on my trusty Honda and went up to the moun­tain where I could camp un­til the rest of the Ben­nett crew ar­rived later in the week. I only had a cheap sleep­ing bag but a chap who came into the shop to buy parts told me I would freeze and of­fered me his large tent to bunk in un­til his fam­ily ar­rived. His name was Shaw Crym­ble and he raced a 125cc Honda. Af­ter the races we de­cided to go to town to have a look, with my mate on the back of the bike. Go­ing down Con­rod Straight a po­lice car pulled me over for do­ing 45mph in a 35mph zone and that was ten pounds thank you. I was only earn­ing nine pounds a week and this was the first book­ing I had ever had. I worked for Ben­nett & Wood un­til they started Ben­nett Honda in Gard­ners Road, Mas­cot. Stan Buck­ing­ham was the man­ager and he asked me to work as a sales­man. Harry was not very happy with me for do­ing that and it was a big mis­take on my part. I was a good spare parts sales­man but not a good sales­man so I left af­ter a cou­ple of years and went to Tom Byrne in Went­worth Av­enue, then Amal­ga­mated Scoot­ers, sell­ing Bridge­stones. Chatsworth Mo­tor­cy­cle Ac­ces­sories which I started up was an­other mis­take as I had no idea how to run a busi­ness on my own but one day a fel­low named Mike Steele walked in and said he was tak­ing over, so I left and ended up with Hazell & Moore sell­ing Tri­umphs and Suzukis, un­til they closed in 1976. I have many tales of my years in the trade and many leg­ends and char­ac­ters that I met and rode with. I am now 74 and still ride a 1969 Ko Honda, and a 2003 900 Triple Thun­der­bird. Peter Wishart Cul­cairn, NSW

ABOVE Harry Ba­t­rop with the ‘of­fi­cial’ out­fit at Bathurst, circa 1980. ‘His hat never flew off’. BE­LOW LEFT Peter Wishart with his 900 Tri­umph at a Tri­umph Rally at Trunkey Creek, NSW.

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